The Rite - The Book or the Movie?

I recently read Matt Baglio’s The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist.  Okay, I admit to being a little weird, but that’s besides the point.  
My fascination with evil started when I read “The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty years ago.  That book was based on the book “Possessed:  The True Story of an Exorcism,” by Thomas B. Allen.  I used to work for “Ma Bell” and  one of my co-workers would pick up a book and before you knew it, all of us would be reading it.  Back then we didn’t call it a book club.
When it was announced that The Exorcist was going to be a movie the first reaction of my co-workers and I was, “How are they going to get a little girl to do that?'”  We couldn’t imagine the graphic nature of the book on a large screen in living color.  Boy, were we in for a surprise!  I saw the movie in the theater, but to this day I cannot watch it when it airs on television.
I still like to read about exorcism and when I came across Matt Baglio’s book I couldn’t resist.  The book follows Fr. Gary Thomas when he is selected to be the exorcist for the diocese in San Jose, California.  He dutifully goes to Rome not knowing what to expect.  At first, things are pretty mundane.  Trying to find a translator so he can actually understand what’s going on in the classroom was one of the first hurdles he had to overcome, much less getting around a city in Italy he was unfamiliar with.
But his biggest obstacle is trying to find an exorcist that will actually let him sit in on an exorcism.  When that’s accomplished, well things are still pretty mundane for quite awhile and his first lesson is in patience.
When I heard that there was a movie coming out based on this book (with Fr. Thomas as the consultant to the film), I knew once again that The Rite would be sensationalized.  That’s kind of unfortunate.  This would have been a perfect opportunity to get inside a priest’s head (which the book does) and follow him through this process.  Fr. Gary’s own struggles in faith and realizations about his calling during this journey is a rare insight into a priest’s mind.
I would recommend you read the book and perhaps wait for the dvd or televised version of the movie.  Thomas B. Allen’s book can still be found in print and it is a well-written and fascinating account of an exorcism.  The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty is also still available and I would highly recommend both books.
Just make sure you’re not alone while reading either one of them!

Leave a comment