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Delivered From Evil

Alexander Riley on The Exorcist, 50 Years Later

The American film director Bill Friedkin died in August of last year. In one of those coincidences that make it difficult not to believe that things are being purposefully organized, the film for which he is most known, The Exorcist, an adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in December.

There was another recent death among the central players in the making of that important and often misunderstood film. Max von Sydow, one of the outstanding screen actors of his generation, passed away on March 8, 2020, at the age of 90. The towering, gaunt, intensely emotive Swede is perhaps best known to world cinema fans as the crusader knight Antonius Block in The Seventh Seal. But he also portrayed one of the greatest religious characters to appear in a Hollywood film, Father Lankester Merrin, the character referred to in the title of The Exorcist.

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Alexander Riley is a senior fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.

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