The 1970s were enormously successful and varied for director William Friedkin — a decade the likes of which no other director has experienced since. Beginning with his 1970 film The Boys In The Band, based on the play by Mart Crowley about a group of gay friends, the decade was bookended with 1980’s Cruising starring Al Pacino as an undercover police officer investigating murders in Manhattan’s gay S&M clubs. From beginning to end Friedkin was a powerhouse filmmaker in the 1970s, and his creative journey is the subject of a new retrospective entitled FRIEDKIN 70s at the Brooklyn Academy of Music beginning Thursday May 2nd and ending May 7th. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Friedkin talks about his experience making The French Connection, Sorcerer, The Brink’s Job, and of course The Exorcist:
NYTIMES: I’m almost afraid to ask about ‘The Exorcist.’ I feel like you must be sick of talking about it.
FRIEDKIN: I know what you mean. I’d rather now that people talk about my latest films. But I can see that films like ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The French Connection,’ and even ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’ are still very much with audiences. I’m very pleased about that. Who wouldn’t be?
NYTIMES: I thought I’d heard every story there was to be told about ‘The Exorcist,’ until I read your account in your memoir, ‘The Friedkin Connection,’ about meeting that group of devil-worshipers when you were filming in Iraq.
FRIEDKIN: They’re a Muslim sect, and their basic belief is that God rules everything in heaven, but the devil rules on earth. So they worship the devil. They had no idea what the hell I was doing there. They had heard that this crazy American was taking raw meat to the statue of the demon Pazuzu. And when I told them it was for a movie, and we had hoped to attract wild dogs and vultures, they were disappointed. And the people from the Baathist party, my handlers, said, “Don’t go. It’s dangerous. We have no control over that.” I had this wonderful translator who was also my guide, and he took me there. It was a great experience.
You can read The New York Times’ full interview with William Friedkin by visiting NYTimes.com. If you happen to be in New York this week, Friedkin will appear for the retrospective’s Thursday screening of Sorcerer and Friday’s screening of Cruising. For more information on the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s retrospective FRIEDKIN 70s be sure to CLICK HERE.
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