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Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

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Years before Father Lankester Merrin helped save Regan MacNeil's soul, he first encounters the demon Pazuzu in East Africa. This is the tale of Father Merrin's initial battle with Pazuzu and the rediscovery of his faith.


Renny Harlin


William Peter Blatty (movie The Exorcist), William Wisher (story) | 2 more credits »
6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stellan Skarsgård ... Father Merrin
Izabella Scorupco ... Sarah
James D'Arcy ... Father Francis
Remy Sweeney ... Joseph
Julian Wadham ... Major Granville
Andrew French Andrew French ... Chuma
Ralph Brown ... Sergeant Major
Ben Cross ... Semelier
David Bradley ... Father Gionetti
Alan Ford ... Jefferies
Antonie Kamerling ... Lieutenant Kessel
Eddie Osei Eddie Osei ... Emekwi
Israel Oyelumade ... Jomo (as Israel Aduramo)
Patrick O'Kane ... Bession
James Bellamy James Bellamy ... James


Archeologist Lankester Merrin is asked to go to East Africa to excavate a church that has been found completely buried in sand. Merrin is also an ordained Roman Catholic priest who, still haunted by what he was forced to do during World War II in his native Holland, eschews any religion or belief. He's fascinated by what he finds and that it dates hundred of years before Christianity was introduced to the area. Accompanied by a young priest, Father Francis, to keep an eye on the religious elements of what they find, Merrin makes his way to the camp. There he meets a young doctor, Sarah and soon realizes there is an air of gloom that envelops the entire site. Workmen go mad and a young boy is mauled by a pack of hyenas while completely ignoring his younger brother Joseph. Inside the church itself they find signs of desecration. Merrin is forced to re-examine his lack of faith and come face to face with the devil. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


God is not here. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and gore, disturbing images and rituals, and for language including some sexual dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

20 August 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Exorcist IV See more »

Filming Locations:

Casablanca, Morocco See more »


Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,054,001, 22 August 2004, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Unrated Version)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The screenplay had a long and painful gestation process. William Peter Blatty refused to get involved, resulting in over a decade being spent trying to get a screenplay together, with the producers eventually settling on a draft by Caleb Carr, which incorporated elements from an earlier screenplay by William Wisher. See more »


When Merrin enters the church for the first time, his guide hands him a lantern when he steps off the ladder, but after Merrin walks forward, the guide is still holding a lantern. He may have had two, but later, when the second priest comes down, the guide no longer has a lantern. See more »


Father Francis: You asked the question, now you listen to the answer!
See more »


References The Evil Dead (1981) See more »


Lou Drums
composed by David Bradnum
Provided by Assiciated Production Music LLC
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Who is Possessed?
17 February 2005 | by tedgSee all my reviews

You know, the very best film experiences are sometimes the ones that are the hardest work. If you don't work at this one, you'll be stuck at the John Carpenter level. But if you do...

Consider it this way. Some movies are made by fundamentalist Christians as part of their battle with the devil. These depict a battle with the devil, in fact the very same battle. Even though I'm an unbeliever, by my very act of watching, I become a weapon in that battle. Pretty terrifying if you think of it, especially if you believe in created realities (which you must when you watch movies).

It doesn't matter if these fundamentalist movies are bad, in fact it is better because you maintain your dual perspectives: in the movie and aware of watching it. And in any case, with Pat Robertson's billion dollar film school, these will get better. Indeed, many people thought Mel Gibson's film was competent.

Now to this movie. We have one film, the original "Exorcist." It is thirty years in our past and twenty-five years in the future of the main character. We know, but he doesn't. That's always in the background, that one layer of reality.

Then we have another film, the one Paul Schrader made using this same crew and sets. It is made from the perspective of the priest. It is cerebral, based on human needs and weaknesses. It is humanistly cinematic. We don't see that film, we only imagine it (which we can readily do since Schrader's imprint is heavy on Hollywood). Another reality.

And then we have the film the studio bosses remade. This one is made from the perspective of the devil. It is cinematic ally evil: lots of fetid maggots, implied Crowley-like perverted sex (only meekly implied), requisite Nazis, simpleminded natives (borderline in the racist stereotypes here), thickheaded Brits and scheming, lying priests. Each of these vie for control of the narrative.

So we have a struggle for narrative control within this one movie. We have the larger battle between the priest's movie (which we can only imagine) and the devil's movie (to which we give money and energy before it even starts). Us as a weapon in that battle as well.

I cannot image anything more horrifying. Doesn't matter if it is poorly done or not. This is real.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.

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