Lessons from Movies: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Wow, it’s been like years I haven’t posted anything in this blog. If you are one of my so-called loyal readers (if there is any), I’m so sorry. Well, my life’s a bit hard for these past few days and there’re many things I have to be involved with (and for some reason my internet connection was unimaginably lame), so... yeah, that’s why. I’m not sure if the things I mentioned previously were the actual reasons or just excuses (LOL), but the thing is, I still watch some movies these days. It’s just I didn’t have good time to write about ‘em.

So, where were we? Oh, yes. What is this “Lessons from Movies” you added in the title, Akbar? I always said that I wanted to make some kind of running feature in this blog so Me On The Movie won’t be just about reviews, reviews, and reviews. I am gonna start it with this post. “Lessons from Movies” is hopefully gonna be my running feature, in which I’m trying to write some lessons—about life, love, whatever—from specific movies I had spotted on. You know, I’m a little bit stubborn to be inspired by movies, but I’m an easy watcher: I could learn anything from movies, even the most unidentified one. So, this feature will talk more about the meaning of the movie instead of the stuffs seen from my cinematic perspective, although I’m still gonna give it a star-rating and list it in my Review Index page.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, if you are my real loyal readers, is one of the movies I listed in My Favorite Movies page. I called it my favorite not because it’s perfect or what; it’s because “The Exorcism of Emily Rose" describes a good interrelation of two unrelated topics: spirituality and reasons. When a young girl called Emily Rose (played by Jennifer Carpenter) dies, people start to think that the exorcism Father Moore (played by Tom Wilkinson) did to her, due to her possessed by devil, is the big reason of her death. Father Moore is then arrested, and Erin Bruner (played by Laura Linney), an agnostic lawyer, is called to represent him on court, trying to make clear that Emily dies because of her spiritual passion, not because of the exorcism.

A very unique premise; moreover, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is based on real event. Just figure out what Erin Bruner had in her mind: she has to make a reasonable thought in front of the jury in the court that such an illogical thing like a possession by devil is a true fact, and an exorcism is one good solution of it. And as she tries to push the reasonable/unreasonable boundaries of the murder, Ethan Thomas (played by Campbell Scott)—the prosecutor—does an easier job by giving facts, one by one, to crack the very thin ground of Erin’s arguments. All the weirdness have their own explanation medically, psychologically, and reasonably, but what Erin only has to explain this bizarre things is the witness and the religious opinion of Father Moore.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

In court, juries see facts. They don’t see moral value, spiritual value, whatsoever, from all witnesses; they see facts to figure out if the witnesses and testimonies are truth or lies. But religious views and spiritualism may become too obscure and groundless to be used to prove who is right and who is wrong. This is the challenge Erin faces. Moreover, she herself admits that she is a doubtful agnostic, and of course, for her, taking out Moore’s testimony—which contains too many questionable holes—as her weapons perhaps becomes too dangerous to defend himself from Thomas’ attacks. That’s why, I think, how she tries to approach and reconstruct the real events by collecting evidences and witnesses to, at least, prove that what Emily Rose had was not psychosis, schizophrenia, or any other psychological problems, but a real possession by devil, is a good way. She doesn’t try to prove that possession is a fact (because she knows that it’s a hard job to do), instead she tries to prove that medical and psychological explanation for the “thing” Emily had is not enough to describe it. “If you can’t prove something is right, try to prove that the other things are wrong”. A good approach.

From the beginning of the movie, viewers will see that, despite you like it or not, Emily Rose is possessed and the exorcism is the good solution. Viewers have no chance to play with possibilities whether it’s right or wrong—and this is not spoiler. I like how the story try to confront these two extreme points—logic and spirituality—straight-forwardly. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I see an effort of the filmmaker to tell that these scientifically-unexplained stuffs like exorcism do exist. As now we are living in a world where many unexplained things are mostly solved and answered, thanks to the advancement of science and technology, we try to develop a tendency in ourselves to try as many possible realistic reason as we can to explain a peculiar thing, instead of just giving up and admitting that it’s the work of supernatural stuffs. This movie describes it very clearly. See how Ethan Thomas always have a good explanation, by collecting scientists and experts, that all the weirdness actually do make sense. He represents our modern thought, and Erin—somehow—represents our conservative mind, although she used to be a woman that full of reason.

The lesson I got from this movie is, however hard you try to give facts or evidences to prove either beliefs are good or bad, you won’t have any clear solution in the end. [SPOILER STARTS] See how finally Erin Bruner lost her “factual” weapons and how she was shifted from defending Father Moore for the sake of her job position to how she gets inspired by her internal feeling that she wants people to know that this unimaginable thing could really happen. She ignores the instruction of her senior, she doesn’t have anything she can present in front of the jury to prove factually that this exorcism, possession, and—moreover—spiritualism thingy is fact: she was just there, sharing her own experiences about her belief regarding to this case and trying to touch the juries on their hearts. And finally, how juries finally commit that Father Moore is guilty regardless of how real Erin tried to reconstruct the exorcism is an undoubted proof of the lesson I absorb, that somehow, trying to prove the validity of beliefs or religions is stupid—while trying to find a good reason of certain moral actions can be as stupid. [SPOILER ENDS]

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

This is a good movie for psychology major. My question now is, if you are Erin Bruner, what would you do to defend Father Moore?

The Exorcism of Emily Rose3.5 out of 5 stars

LESSONS: Spirituality vs. reasons

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2005 RATING Rated PG-13 for thematic material, including intense/frightening sequences and disturbing images RUNTIME 119 min GENRE Crime, Drama, Horror CAST Jennifer Carpenter, Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Mary Beth Hurt WRITER Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson (screenplay) DIRECTOR Scott Derrickson MORE INFO

Akbar Saputra

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  1. Love the idea of Lessons from Movies. I haven't watch this one, and probably won't since I dislike the genre, but looking forward for your next post!