Legendary movie director William Friedkin, best known for directing The French Connection and The Exorcist, appeared on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle Wednesday night to talk about his latest effort, The Devil and Father Amorth, a documentary about Father Gabriele Amorth, the head exorcist for the Diocese of Rome for over 30 years. Father Amorth died in September of 2016 at age 91.
The movie was filmed by Friedkin alone, and centers around an exorcism ceremony of a horribly afflicted woman named Cristina, who had already been through eight exorcisms without success.
In an interview with longtime EWTN News host and Ingraham sidekick Raymond Arroyo, Friedkin said that he arranged to meet Fr. Amorth when he was in Italy and asked him if he could witness an exorcism.
“I pushed my luck and asked him if he would let me film it,” Friedkin said. “The head of the order wrote back and said, ‘you can film it, but alone — with no lights and no crew.'”
Arroyo asked the director what he saw.
“Her entire personality changed,” Friedkin replied. “She had incredible strength that was way beyond what she really had as a rather slight woman, 46 years old.”
He added: “Her entire voice and her nature and tone changed completely during the course of the exorcism.”
Arroyo asked the director if he thinks he witnessed a “battle between good and evil.”
Yes,” Friedkin replied. “But — is the evil coming from her or directed at her? In my opinion it was directed at her and I’m not sure why.”
“You took that footage to neurosurgeons and psychiatrists. What did they tell you?” Arroyo asked.
“Neurosurgeons said they had no idea what this was. And these were guys who had done over 5,000 brain surgeries each. And they said while everything originates in the brain, this is not a problem of her brain,” Friedkin answered.
He told Arroyo that the leading psychiatrists in the country now recognize exorcism, as well. “They call it dissociative identity disorder/ demonic possession,” he explained.
“How did it change your understanding of that mystery of evil?” the host wondered.
“There was no other explanation for what was going on!” Friedkin replied. “I always thought … there’s probably some medical or psychiatric term for this — there isn’t.”
He added: “There’s a psychiatric term for it that involves possession. So if someone comes to a psychiatrist and says they’re possessed, they don’t say ‘no, you’re not possessed; here’s some medication and a little therapy, you’ll be fine.’ No, they bring in an exorcist now.”
Friedkin said he only watches six to seven movies a year because he’s lost interest in the current zeitgeist, which he says involves “guys in spandex flying around, saving the world.”
The Devil and Father Amorth will be released in theaters on April 20, 2018. So far, critics have given it a “fresh rating” of 62 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.