The Exorcist - The Version You've Never Seen (1973)
By: Trist Jones on June 6, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Warner (Australia). Region 2 & 4 PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0, Italian DD 5.1. English, Italian, Icelandic, Finnish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Arabic, English, (FHI) Italian (FHI) Subtitles. 126 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: William Friedkin
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Jason Miller
Screenplay: William Peter Blatty
Alright… I'll spare you the unnecessaries of the review, as essentially this is exactly the same film as it always has been, just with a couple of newly tweaked shots reinserted or altered slightly. If you want to read the review of the film check this out (The Exorcist: 25th Anniversary Special Edition). So, for those who haven't yet seen this version, you may likely be wondering "How is this different?"

The Exorcist – The Version You've Never Seen is primarily the same film as the one you probably have seen before. The story progresses exactly the same way the original theatrical cut did in its release, the new scenes don't really change the story structure at all. The new scenes seem to spell things out a little more, especially reinserted talking head sequences.

In spite of being superbly written scenes and pieces of dialogue, they don't really change anything. They simply add further insight into who the characters are by nature and why particular things happen in the film. The whole film is summed up rather beautifully in a brief conversation between Max Von Sydow's Father Merrin and Jason Miller's Father Karras during the final moments of the climactic exorcism. There is also an extended ending, involving Lt. Kinderman and Karras's best friend Father Dyer. This ending was initially intended for cinematic release, as Blatty felt the film shouldn't end on such a down note, which links rather nicely into the film's (and book's) official sequel The Exorcist III (aka Legion).

Other noticeable changes in the film include the split-second insertions of the demonic face into other sequences and the morphing of Reagan's face during the hypnotist sequence. The most obvious change however is the much talked about "Spider Walk Sequence".

The sequence is referred to extensively in the 25th Anniversary Edition, and brief, unedited or mastered clips are shown. The sequence takes place immediately after Chris (Ellen Burstyn) is told that Burt Dennings (a family friend and film director) has died, Chris turns to see Reagan at the top of the stairs. Bent over backwards, Reagan scuttles on her hands and feet across the landing and down the stairs before stopping halfway and streaming blood from her mouth. When I first saw the sequence I was genuinely surprised and shocked, even in spite of my anticipation for it. It's such a frighteningly bizarre scene that it truly is discomforting to watch. Again, it's not a massive change to the overall structure of the film, but it is certainly enough to appease today's more bloodthirsty and impatient audiences. Had it been completed back in the day, I'm sure it would be one of the defining moments of the film ala the crucifix masturbation.
Video
Essentially the same as the 25th Anniversary Edition, although the transfer is far nicer. The colours are richer, the image is a tiny bit crisper (though it is noticeable), and the film doesn't have that Seventies look the previous release did. The grain that was present on the Anniversary disc is here again, but with the image remastered once again, it is far less noticeable. As with the last release, this version is presented in 1.85:1 and is 16x9 widescreen.
Audio
Again, a noticeable improvement over the prior release. Not huge, but definitely cleaner. The only trouble with this is that it makes it easier to pick out the re-looped lines and the Devil's impersonations don't blend quite as well as they did last time around. The audible noise floors in the first release are pretty much gone from this one. The soundtrack is, once again, available in 5.1 Dolby Surround, but now also comes with an Italian 5.1 track and an English 2.0 mono compatible track.
Extra Features
Outside of the new footage, you really only get a new commentary by William Friedkin, along with radio and television spots. Not a standout set of extras, but at least Friedkin has been generous enough to offer up a brand new commentary. It's a much more intellectual commentary on the make up of the story itself than a technical dissection of the film, looking more at the development of characters, symbolism and meaning behind certain events or subtleties that crop up throughout the film. I'm actually rather surprised that he makes no mention of the reinsertions made for this release.
The Verdict
It's a bit of a surprise to see how lacking this disc is in regards to extras, especially when the last release was as fantastic as it was. The film itself is as fantastic as it ever was, the new extras are not really enough to alter one's opinion of the overall impact this film has, though the "Spider Walk" is a very memorable moment. At the current price tag, it really isn't worth forking out the money for unfortunately, as the film is available in the multitude of competitively priced boxed sets available these days. The other thing with these sets is that you're getting all three films, which is (debatably) a bonus as neither sequel is available in Australia outside of the collections. Fantastic film, but a flimsy DVD. (NOTE: this rating is based purely on the value for money factor of this release)
Movie Score
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