God, The Devil, and Hollywood

The religious controversy swirling around Mel Gibson’s Christian opus, The Passion, is remniescent of the furor that enveloped another famous film, writes Geoff Pevere. “Thirty years ago, William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s 1971 bestseller not only touched off a fire-storm over the film’s depiction of a 12-year-old girl’s horrific possession by an ancient demon, it contained possibly the most graphic juxtaposition of sacred and profane ever seen by a mass audience — the image of a crucifix being violently shoved into the possessed girl’s vagina.” The Exorcist may have had far different aims than Gibson’s devotional flick, but the pious outrage that greeted its release was awfully similar.