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Autism from the inside

Exorcist II: The Heretic – Looking back at the first Sequel

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The Exorcist is one movie that has gained a reputation as one of finest displays of horror with a gritty realism and stellar performances and special effects. It garnered much attention during its release and has succumbed to the annuals of movie history as one of the greatest movies of all time.

When John Boorman’s Exorcist II came along it was a box office failure and was not a hit with the audience they wanted. In his words the audience wanted “the same” and it wasn’t what they got for better or worse on reflection and will be revisiting Exorcist II: The Heretic and reevaluating it overall.

Characterisation

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You have priest Father Lamont who was a follower of the teaching of Father Merrin the priest in the first movie who died trying to save the young girl Regan from possession, a passionate man of faith he wants to clear the name of Merrin who was believed to have committed heresy during his last moments. The struggle of faith is apparent throughout the movie with redemption at the end.

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Regan’s characterisation is in many ways the centre of the movies bringing elements from the past, present and supposed future she a seer into the future and healer of souls the mix of old school faith and modern miracles one could see her as a modern day saint who has “powers” which cannot be explained by faith nor science but just are.

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Father Merrin is present in the ESP scenes and also the flashback sequences throughout the movie revealing that his heart attack was brought on by the demon pazuzu. It is revealed that 4o years prior that he had battle the demon in Africa an young man named Kokumo who like Regan possessed powers of healing and that evil and the locust swarm in the movie symbolised the eternal battle between good and evil, light and dark.

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Kokumo comes in three forms a young boy who was possessed then with Father Lamont’s travels to Africa he confronts him bearing the garb of the Locust setting a test of faith and belief by walking across a floor of spikes. Then he becomes a man of science who shows a great deal knowledge about locust swarms a scientist, accomplished and respected in his field. The bridging between faith and science, technology and mythology is seen in the character.

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Dr. Tuskin is a person of logical reasoning and scepticism she deals with therapy and psychology of young children with mental health conditions and developmental disabilities. The bridging between western philosophy and modern medicine is quite contradictory to the ESP machine that she has created and uses on Regan, Father Lamont and herself showing the past, present and potential future. The question of faith vs. science and many different variables in between are represented in her characterisation.

Plot

The plot is a hefty mixture with many different messages flowing in around the characters and situations. This is why Exorcist II didn’t perform as well as the first movie because Boorman’s presentation of the plot was dream-like, surreal and at times a form of hyper-reality to convey the message of science and religion, reality vs. hyper-reality, ESP vs. powers of healing, the complete opposite of The Exorcist. The movies style and direction has European feel to with giddy camera work, experimental special effects and sound design, heavy stylised lighting and a brilliant and rather moving score by Ennio Morricone the whole tone was different from onset and even thought the opening titles shared the same red font it is a very different movie.

Conclusion

Looking back Exorcist II is not as bad as initially thought it was going to be an ambitious feat for any person to try and content with the first movie but in many ways this sequel has a reality all of its own and its intriguing how it polarised audiences but on reflection it is well worth a viewing.

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Author: Paul Isaacs

Paul was branded as a “naughty & difficult child” at school. He was classically autistic and non-verbal due to speech articulation difficulties. He had complex sensory issues and appeared both deaf and blind. He gained functional speech around the age of 7 or 8 years old. He went through the mainstream school system with no additional help or recognition of his autism. Consequently, he did not achieve his academic or his social potential and had very low self-esteem. At age 11, Paul was referred to the children’s mental health service with childhood depression where he was regarded as “developmentally underage” and having speech problems. As an adult, Paul had a string of unsuccessful jobs, and his mental health suffered. He developed both Borderline and Schizotypal Personality Disorders in early 2007. He was referred to mental health services and misdiagnosed with “Asperger traits with a complex personality”, which did not satisfy Paul or his family. A local autism organisation put Paul in touch with an experienced psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with Autism at 24 years old. In 2012 Paul was also diagnosed with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome by an Irlen Consultant who confirmed that he also had face, object and meaning blindness – conditions which Paul describes eloquently in his speeches and training sessions. He also has dyslexia, dyscalculia and also a dissociative disorder. Having started working as an local autism organisation as a public speaker in 2010, Paul joined their mission to promote autism awareness. His hope is that others will not have to suffer as he did. Now also a core member of our Training Team, Paul continues to enhance true understanding of autism at every opportunity. Paul has released and published 5 books on the subject of autism published by Chipmunka publishing and has contributed to other books too. Having overcome many challenges to achieve the success that he now enjoys, Paul’s message is that Autism is a complex mix of ability and disability. He firmly believes that every Autistic person should have the opportunity to reach their potential and be regarded as a valued member of society. Apart from autism related blogs Paul also write about movies, fashion, art and anything that is of interest. As of August 2015 Paul now works as a freelance speaker, training and consultant in and around the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire area. If you are interested please contact him via email at staypuft12@yahoo.co.uk

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