Iconic Images: The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist boasts many moments that stick in the memory but few images from the film are as iconic as seeing Father Merrin arriving to be faced with this…

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The above image is a slightly stylised version of the shot that appears in the film but whether you see it in colour or black and white this magnificent image never fails to unsettle. Inspired by the Rene Magritte painting named The Empire of Light, this high contrast frame shows a beam of light shining from the possessed girl’s home. The light, through the darkness and the haze, picks out the exorcist Father Merrin – the man who is both the teenage girl’s saviour and the demon’s nemesis.

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The Exorcist is Mark Kermode’s favourite film of all time – find out what his top 10 films are here.

More Iconic Images

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – Trying to escape the authorities, Elliott takes flight thanks to E.T.’s magical powers. With E.T. sat in the bicycle’s front-mounted basket, the pair fly in front of a beautiful blue moon.


Jaws, Steven Spielberg, Daniel Stephens, Top 10 FilmsJaws – Shark expert Matt Hooper gets a big surprise when investigating the wreck of a local fisherman’s small boat. One of Jaws’ most memorable moments.


jurassic-park-cup-water-t-rexJurassic Park – Even without the low rumble of an approaching dinosaur, and the resulting ripple of the water in the cup, this simple image sends shivers through audiences who have witnessed Jurassic Park.

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Mark Reply

    Great choice, but I would argue there is a continuity glitch in this. The window from which Fr Damian is thrown at the end of the exorcism is within proximity of a steep concrete stairwell. The above key light, however, is shining directly down into a car bay at the front of the house. Having seen the film (and the Boreman sequel) a few times, I don’t recall her bedroom having windows on two walls.

    In other words, I don’t think that’s her bedroom window.

  2. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Mark: Very good point. And, thinking about it, you’re right as there is only one window in her room as far as I remember and it opens to the side of the house. I’ve amended the above to reflect that.

    …on a side note, it does freak me out that WordPress says “Howdy” every time I log in (for those that don’t know: Captain Howdy is what Regan calls her “invisible” friend in the film…the one that possesses her) – especially when I’m writing about The Exorcist! 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Fogs' Movie Reviews Reply

    Deinitely a classic image. Made the poster! No way anyone can see that image and not immediately identify the movie!

  4. Avatar
    Colin Biggs Reply

    Brave man, I wouldn’t be able to walk into that house.

  5. Avatar
    Movie Review World Reply

    The Exorcist stands as not only one of my favourite Horror films but one of my favourite films of all time and of course the poster is as iconic as they come.

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