I guess that the reason so many people find this film so frightening is that they think something like it could happen to them. There must be a lot of people out there who are totally unsure about their salvation and the state of their eternal souls. Something like what happens in the movie would not happen to someone who is a Christian. Of course, Biblically speaking, it probably would not happen to an innocent (young child) either. Watching the movie, I got the idea that Linda Blair's character wasn't all that innocent. Even before she becomes possessed she hints at sexual promiscuity she has been involved with and some of her earlier actions with her mother and servants aren't all that innocent either.
I will admit that the acting is done well and some of the special effects are pretty cool. However, other than that, there really isn't any reason to see this film. I find it difficult that it is held in such high regard.
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An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and studying ancient relics. Following the discovery of a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Sumerian demigod) and a modern-day St. Joseph medal curiously juxtaposed together at the site, a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa. Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil living with her famous actress mother, Chris, becomes inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances, she undergoes disturbing psychological and physical changes, appearing to become "possessed" by a demonic spirit.
After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan's mother turns to a local Jesuit priest. ...