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Exorcist II: The Heretic


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#1 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 05:56 PM

I've seen it again. The first time was a long time ago on TV. I disliked the film back then, but some of its images were still haunting my memory. Now I think that the film is not as bad as I thought back then, but I'm more than impressed with its cinematography. It's a great, stylish work by Bill Fraker.

The film features very interesting lighting effects, such as the strobe lights during the hypnosis scenes, or even some beautiful reflections on glasses and mirrors (some of then achieved in camera, others via optical effects & matte shots):

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But the most impressive stuff are the surrealistic desert scenes, shot inside a soundstage. Fraker has said that he needed almost every arc in Hollywood and very deep f/stops to simulate such a high light intensity:

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They also had to replicate the house, the exorcism and the street from the first film. I believe that there are some front projection shots in this scenes:

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The film has also some impressive shots, like those with Reagan (Linda Blair) on the roof:

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Perhaps it was Boorman who encouraged Fraker to lit the film in a more naturalistic way, with very little fill light (if so), against his usual high-key, low-con trademark style. Take a look at this shot, it could have been done by David Watkin himself.

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And it's not the only one!


The DVD shows some poor blacks. I don't know if this was caused by some nets or other kind of difussion or even flashing, but that's something that I've seen before in other films shot by Fraker. It think that The Exorcist II is his best work, together with 1941. Sadly, the film is so so, which makes it barely known.

A final surprise!:

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;)
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#2 fstop

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Posted 30 July 2005 - 09:12 PM

Great post, as always, Ignacio! :)

I haven't seen this bomb in ages, but I remember that looks were certainly it's strong point. Lots of credit to Richard McDonald, the designer, and his team. The lavish soundstage desert IS really amazing, isn't it? Reminds me of later Boorman soundstage/faked sunset imagery from Excalibur.

Your "almost Watkin" comments I found intriguing- Boorman seemed to be on a quest for naturalism with all of his DPs, even pushing our old friend Philip Lathrop into that mentality on Point Blank (with varied results). Makes me wonder how Boorman regular Phillipe Rousellot would have shot everything, particularly the stylised desert stuff, given he is using his spheres of light on stage-bound Burton films these days.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 July 2005 - 09:36 PM

Boorman has that Kubrickian need to control everything (hence the stagework) yet make it look photographically real and follow practical light sources, which are almost opposite techniques for "exterior" scenes and produce an interesting effect, surreal more than real. The difference is that Boorman sees movies as similar to dreaming, and this "dreamscape" element is stronger than in Kubrick's work.
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