Saturday, October 08, 2005
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
On the recommendation of World Magazine and a few of my friends, Marie and I went to see The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I have to say that I was surprised that it wasn't more over the top in the foul language category or obscenity (of course, we had checked out those things beforehand). But overall, I was completely unaffected by this movie.
I've seen movies that were much more frightening and intense, so the scare factor wasn't all that high. I've seen courtroom movies with much better acting and high-impact scenes, so the drama wasn't all that strong. And I've seen movies that made a much deeper spiritual statement about the existence of God, so the message of the movie wasn't all that profound.
Emily writes, "People say God is dead. How can they continue to believe that if I show them the devil."
This is the entire message of the movie summed up in one line. Emily Rose is possessed by a demon (spoiler warning, if that's possible) so that she can prove to the world that God and the spiritual realm are real, at least that's what the the virgin Mary told her in a vision. I have not read or seen any other material about this incident, nor do I have a vast knowledge of Roman Catholic teachings on exorcism and demon possession. Yet, I do know that once Jesus Christ comes into a life and sets up His reign in that person's heart, there is no power in heaven or earth that can unseat Him from that throne. So I do not believe that a believer can be possessed by a demon. I believe that there might be at times some sort of demonic oppression and I suppose if demons wanting to knock things off of shelves and make chairs move across floors or make strange noises in the night, that would be completely possible. I've often said that ghost stories might have some validity to them simply because people who believe in a ghost realm, do not believe God when He says that it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment. Anything that takes men away from the truth is fair game to be one of Satan's tactics.
Anyway, big rabbit trail. The movie depicts devils and the spiritual realm to be something that is much more powerful than any human being. I would hate for a true believer to go see this movie and come away with the mistaken impression that even though they are bought with the blood of Christ, that Satan or some demon can come into their body and do what they please. If the movie is a fair representation of the actual people being portrayed (and it probably isn't), then I don't think there was one actual Christian involved with these events. Could this have been a true exorcism. Yeah, it's entirely possible. But what Emily needed was not a priest but the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The priest in the movie says at Emily's grave that "Once you've seen [the darkness], it is always with you." His meaning was once you have been opened to the spiritual realm of demons, you will always have their activity around you. This was illustrated by another so-called Christian who was involved with the Exorcism as a doctor. After the incident, he is seen in broad daylight running from unseen tormentors. I turned to Marie in the movie theatre after the priest made this statement and said, "On the contrary, once you have seen the light it dispels the darkness." I believe that it dispels it once and for all.
This movie was pretty cool in some aspects. The possession scenes were freaky to be sure and the court room prosecutor was an interesting character. Even the end of the movie had a neat little twist. But, it did not really affect me at all. I came away with the same confidence in Christ that I have known all my Christian life. I do not believe that I can cast out demons, but I do have the power of the gospel. And if I ever encounter someone with demonic possession, you can bet that I will be using it instead of some crucifix.
The story of Emily Rose is loosely based on the actual exorcism, death, and ensuing trial of Anneliese Michel, a german college student whose parents and priest thought that she had been overcome by demonic forces. She was diagnosed with Epilepsy and died of malnutrition in 1976. Her ordeal first began in 1968 when she began to have uncontrollable seizures and started to hear voices and see visions during her prayers.
The following is an excerpt from The Real Emily Rose.
"The last day of the Exorcism Rite was on June 30th, 1976, and Anneliese was suffering at this point from Pneumonia. She was also totally emaciated, and running a high fever. Exhausted and unable to physically perform the genuflections herself, her parents stood in and helped carry her through the motions. "Beg for Absolution" is the last statement Anneliese made to the exorcists. To her mother, she said, "Mother, I'm afraid." Anna Michel recorded the death of her daughter on the following day, July 1st, 1976, and at noon, Pastor Ernst Alt informed the authorities in Aschaffenburg. The senior prosecutor began investigating immediately. "