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Before you non-scary-movie-people get too turned off by my discussion of yet another so-called horror movie, keep reading.
This one’s not really “scary”… it’s more like “a supernatural thriller.” AND, it’s based on fact!
It’s about a case in the 1970’s where the Catholic church agreed to allow exorcisms, and in the end, the girl died. At which point, the Church discontinued exorcisms, only to begin offering them again later!
When I first heard about the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose a couple months ago, I rolled my eyes because I figured this movie about exorcisms was probably just some sorry attempt to take a few factual accounts and try to make another Exorcist sequel or something.
Then, weeks later, I saw the previews on TV. While it looked mildly scary, I was more intrigued than anything else.
Finally, I took the time to research this movie AND the person that the movie is based on (Analiese Michel, also spelled “Annelise”, “Anneliese”) and one thing’s for sure: I HAVE to see this movie!
About The Movie: Emily Rose = Analiese Michel
The movie is based on the book called “The Exorcism of Analiese Michel”, which details an exorcism performed by Roman Catholic priests on a young girl in 1976.
From what I’ve heard, scary movie fans will be sorely disappointed by this one for its lack of gore and frightful moments.
However, fans of movies in general will appreciate this one mostly for its “story-behind-the-story” perspective.
Here’s the official website for the movie.
The Story Behind The Story: Anneliese Michel
In the movie, you get a rare look at a young girl’s personal delusions — from her perspective.
Plus, you get to see what took place during the exorcism. You also get a good feel for how the courtroom debate was carried out in this very controversial case.
The controversy stems from the fact that this exorcism was sanctioned by the Church, and that her parents (Anna and Josef Michel) allowed everything to happen as it did.
How The Exorcisms Got Out Of Control
One of the “rituals” Anneliese performed during her delusions was to kneel repeatedly — up and down, up and down — until she lost her strength to continue.
Shortly before she died, her parents said she performed nearly 500 deep knee bends in one day. They believed the devil was the source of her power.
After a 10-month series of bi-weekly exorcisms (67 to be exact), Anneliese Michel eventually shattered her kneecaps and starved to death. At the time of her death, she was 23 years old and weighed less than 70 pounds.
Some of the sessions took up to four hours. Forty-two sessions were recorded on tape. Source
This ultimately led to criminal charges being filed against the two priests involved — for negligent homicide.
Furthermore, many believe that Anneliese was, in effect, murdered by her parents.
In the end, the parents and the two priests were all sentenced to 6 months in prison (suspended with three years’ probation).
Still debated to this day is the degree to which things went wrong with this exorcism.
Here’s the best summary I could find detailing the story behind the story.
More About Anneliese Michel Growing Up
Besides the usual actions typically associated with possession — screaming, self-mutilation, speaking in tongues, destroying religious symbols — Michel also began sleeping on a stone floor, eating bugs and drinking her own urine. During this time, she also refused to eat, claiming the demons would not let her. Source
- An interesting twist: Analiese Michel is buried in Germany, only 100 feet from the house she lived in. Her mother oversees her grave. Today, it is considered more or less a religious site, visited primarily by Catholics. It is said that many even honor Annelise Michel as an unofficial saint.
The Roman Catholic Church’s Stance On Exorcisms Today
The Catholic church has wavered back and forth as to whether or not to perform exorcisms.
Following the death of Anneliese the church recanted their permission, stating that she was merely afflicted by mental disorders. In 1996 the Pope removed Rituale Romanum from the approved list of rites and replaced it with his own, called “The Exorcism for the Upcoming Millennium.” Source
The current pope (Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger) certainly appears to be in full support of them.
A quote from the New York Times:
“Pope Benedict XVI, who often greets religious groups visiting Rome, made a surprising welcome in his general audience: He offered best wishes to a convention of exorcists, whom he encouraged to “carry on their important work in the service of the church.” Details of the convention were not released publicly, but exorcism has gained a more prominent role in the Catholic church in recent years. Pope John Paul II, who died in April, oversaw the rewriting of the ritual for exorcisms and reportedly took part in at least one himself, in 2000. Regina Apostolorum, a top Vatican university, is planning this year to offer another course in exorcism to priests; a course last year proved popular with students.”
In early 2005, about 100 Catholic priests signed up for a Vatican-sanctioned course on exorcism, and today the ChurchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ranks of official exorcists has swollen to more than 400. Source
Here’s more about how the Roman Catholic Church performs exorcisms today.
Reviews Of The Movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”
Catholic News Services — see what the Catholic viewpoint is.
Paranormal Movie Review — they call it a “mild horror flick” that’s a a cross between “The X-Files” and “Law & Order”.
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