I learned from the wonderful Theofantastique that Russell Crowe’s new movie is The Pope’s Exorcist. (I guess Crowe hadn’t read Nightmares with the Bible to think to send me a personal notice.) I knew instantly, from the title, that it had to be about Fr. Gabriel Amorth. Say what you will about him, he inspired William Friedkin to make a documentary titled The Devil and Father Amorth. It’s pretty unnerving to watch, no matter what is really going on. Catholic officials aren’t trilled about Crowe’s movie—I wasn’t impressed with his portrayal of Noah in Darren Aronofsky’s take on the flood story a few years back. It takes a certain kind of director (like Friedkin) to be able to handle theologically dense material in a believable way. I can’t say anything about Julius Avery’s The Pope’s Exorcist, of course, without having seen it.
I can say, however, that those who publish books at $100 miss many opportunities. My book is one of very few written by a credentialed religious studies scholar on demons in movies. A quick web search will reveal that it remains basically unknown and uncited. (The only Amazon review is a two-star job by an evangelical who didn’t like what I was doing.) Pay $100 for a book with a two-star review? Most people, reasonably, have better things to do. I once got around this in the past by posting a PDF of one of my book for free on Academia.edu, where, at recent count, it has been viewed over 6,000 times. Academic publishers don’t realize the appeal of most of the books they publish. Even demons can’t open a wallet to a Franklin level.
So while I’m waiting for enough royalties to afford seeing The Pope’s Exorcist, I’ll focus on my current book project. Of course it’s on something completely different. The Wicker Man should be coming out in September, but my mind will likely be elsewhere. Those of restless intellect are condemned to wander, it seems. Of course, I have Theofantastique to keep me busy. There are other kindred spirits out there. They don’t know the way to my website, I suspect, but I’m not alone in being excited about a new exorcist movie. I’m not expecting anything to surpass The Exorcist, however. Like The Wicker Man, The Exorcist turns fifty this year. One guess which was the more popular film. Given Crowe’s profile I’m surprised there hasn’t been more buzz about his new film. Demons can be funny that way.