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Friday, 22 September, 2000, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
The Exorcist is restored
Excorcist star Linda Blair
Exorcist star Linda Blair last year promotes the lifting of a 15-year ban on the Exorcist on video
Classic horror movie The Exorcist has been re-released with 11 minutes of "truly terrifying" previously unseen footage and enhanced sound.

The new version of the Warner Bros film - dubbed by many as the "scariest movie ever made" - goes on show in more than 600 cinemas across the US from Friday.

The extra footage adds to the movie's central exorcism scene involving two priests and the possessed 12-year-old Regan MacNeil.


This is the version that Bill Blatty always believed in and it's taken me 26 years to see why and finally agree with him

William Friedkin, Exorcist director

It was originally cut by director William Friedkin in a row with William Blatty - the movie's producer and author of the book on which it was based - over the religious message of the film.

Blatty, a devout Roman Catholic, wanted to give a clear message of good prevailing over evil with theological overtones.

Friedkin wanted viewers to reach their own conclusions, according to people who were also closely involved with the film.

Now, however, Friedkin seems to have changed his mind.

In a statement accompanying the film's re-release, Friedkin said: "This is the version that Bill Blatty always believed in and it's taken me 26 years to see why and finally agree with him.

"The restored footage not only deepens the spiritual foundation of the film but adds some truly terrifying moments as well."

The Exorcist was considered ground-breaking at the time of its release in 1973.

It earned 10 Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars.

Pivotal scene

Audiences braved long queues for a chance to be scared witless by the story of the demonic possession of the young Regan - played by Linda Blair.

The movie is full of blasphemy and gruesome moments, including Regan vomiting a sea of green gunge and masturbating with a crucifix.

The Exorcist
Blatty wanted a greater religious context to the exorcism scenes

The most powerful scenes were those of the exorcism carried out by the two priests.

Blatty considered one of the newly added scenes pivotal to both the central action and the meaning of the movie as a whole.

He fought in vain to keep it in the final cut but Friedkin and his lawyers had the final say.

It shows the younger priest- played by Jason Miller - asking the older priest - played by Max von Sydow - why Satan would harm an innocent little girl.

The older priest replies that Satan has only one purpose: "The point is to see ourselves as animal and ugly, to reject the possibility that God could love us."

Blatty felt the scene would go some way to explain the Christian message of the movie.

But Friedkin objected to the scene, saying: "I am directing a film, not making publicity for the Catholic Church."

The newly released version of The Exorcist also features Blatty's preferred, more positive ending, which sees an atheist character brought closer to God.

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See also:

15 Jun 98 | Entertainment
The Exorcist returns
30 Oct 98 | Entertainment
Ferman: 'The power of religion is there'
10 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Exorcist finally possesses videos
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