Washington D.C., Jan 13, 2017 / 17:06 pm America/Denver (CNA).
William Peter Blatty, whose fictionalized vision of demonic possession and Catholic exorcism transfixed a great swath of the American public, died on Thursday.
In the 1960s he became a novelist and screenwriter, with only modest success. But then his 1971 novel The Exorcist portrayed the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her exorcism by two Catholic priests. He had drawn inspiration from a 1949 Washington Post story about a Jesuit priest’s successful exorcism of a 14-year-old boy in Mount Ranier, Maryland.
For Blatty, the point of his the story was “that God exists and the universe itself will have a happy ending.”
The book sold 13 million copies. Blatty wrote the screenplay for the movie, which became a blockbuster whose disturbing imagery and depiction of supernatural evil helped redefine the horror genre and the American religious imagination.
Blatty voiced concern that the film’s climax, in which the younger priest goads the demon into possessing him and then jumps to his death, appeared to give victory to the demon.