- The real Father Gabriele Amorth loved the 1973 movie The Exorcist, calling it a reflection of a true story with overblown special effects. He also praised the Catholic horror movie The Rite.
- Movies like The Exorcist changed the conversation around exorcisms, which was previously regarded as witchcraft. This shift in perception made Father Amorth’s career as an exorcist possible.
- The Exorcist’s cultural impact led to a steep increase in exorcism requests, prompting the Catholic Church to appoint more trained exorcists. Father Amorth started his work as an exorcist ten years after the release of the film.
As the inspiration for the 2023 film The Pope’s Exorcist, the real Father Gabriele Amorth unsurprisingly had a strong opinion about the classic horror movie The Exorcist. With the movie finally hitting Netflix, The Pope’s Exorcist has gained another wave of attention after its successful theatrical run this year. The movie tells the story of Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist who performed over 100,000 exorcisms throughout his career. Though he recognizes that some believed possessions are actually mental illnesses, the exorcist encounters many true demonic possessions, not entirely dissimilar to that portrayed in 1973’s The Exorcist.
Although The Pope’s Exorcist makes a number of changes from the true story, Russell Crowe’s same-named character is based on the real-life Catholic exorcist named Father Gabriele Amorth, who started his work in 1986. Given the fact that he was alive when The Exorcist was released and his personal connection to the topic, it’s natural that Father Gabriele Amorth would have an opinion on the classic horror movie that doubtlessly had a cultural impact on his work. Not only did the real Father Gabriele Amorth have an opinion on William Friedkin’s movie, but it turns out that The Pope’s Exorcist figure had strong feelings about its quality and story.
Father Gabriele Amorth Loved The 1973 Movie The Exorcist
In his autobiography An Exorcist Tells His Story, Father Gabriel Amorth identified The Exorcist as his all-time favorite movie. He dubbed the film a reflection of a true story with overblown special effects. Though The Exorcist is his favorite, he also praised the Catholic horror movie The Rite when it premiered at a film festival (via Fortune). This movie also focuses on seminary students and priests trying to exorcise a demon from a young girl. Given the humor that Russell Crowe’s Father Amorth displays in The Pope’s Exorcist, the real Italian priest’s love for exorcism-based horror films is unsurprising.
It seems he enjoyed movies that he regarded as positive representations of his career path. After all, throughout the 1900s, the Catholic Church regarded exorcisms as an embarrassment, performing only a small number every year and rarely discussing the practice. Though the 1917 Code of Canon Law required each parish to have an official exorcist, Bishops rarely followed this rule (via The Conversation). The Exorcist and movies like it changed the conversation on a practice widely regarded as witchcraft. Given his love for the 1973 film, it’d be interesting to know what he’d think of The Pope’s Exorcist if he were still alive to see the movie about his own career.
The Exorcist Made Father Gabriele Amorth’s Job Possible
According to Fortune, The Exorcist is credited with a steep increase in the number of exorcism requests given to the Catholic Church. These requests provided a need for more trained exorcists that the Church backed. Because of their trepidations about exorcisms, Catholic parishes were unprepared for this surge. However, Catholic leadership eventually came around to the practice, appointing more exorcists. Ten years after the film, Father Gabriele Amorth started working as an exorcist. He would go on to form the International Association of Exorcists in the 1990s, a group dedicated to advocating for and training Catholic exorcists. All things considered, without The Exorcist, The Pope’s Exorcist wouldn’t exist.