I remember when Exorcist: The Beginning came out and everybody was trashing it or at least it seemed that way. When I finally got around to seeing it I loved it and enjoyed it ever since. It wasn’t until recently I became interested in the demonic possession films and I decided to re-watch Exorcist: The Beginning because my feelings for it may have changed. They didn’t. I still enjoyed it but there was always something about it that I felt sort of tackled the issue of religion. It doesn’t necessarily bash Christianity but rather… challenges it in the sense of comparing it to other religions. Every religion out there is the same as the next and as shown in the movie, all the major wars in the world have been fought over religion when most religion is the same. That’s what stuck out to me in this film.
First of all, I find it funny that the setting of the film takes place in Kenya and we all know that most of the tribes down there aren’t Christian. From what I remember studying, Christianity derived from the Middle East and not Kenya so right off the bat it’s going to be a film that clashes with different religions beliefs. Throughout the film Merrin talks about the demons of Christianity and how they may have possessed a young local boy. However, at the same time the Turkana believe an evil spirit may have possessed the boy. Before Merrin or Father Francis have a chance to exorcise the boy, the Turkana send a group of high priests to do a ritual chant over the boy so that they can purge him of evil.
To me, I find it rather fascinating that both the Turkana and the British believe that there is an evil in that land and that the evil has manifested itself into some form. However, both parties have a different name for the evil and they both believe the evil came from different places. As I stated before, all religions is essentially the same; there is a good and there is a bad even though the origins of these forces are different. This film provides two different perspectives of religion and these perspectives can be seen as two polar opposites: the British believing in Christianity (The good) and the Turkana believing in their primitive gods (The bad). It really challenges the aspects and formulas of religion and I think that is one of the strong points in this film.