Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Rite

I had no previous knowledge of the Anthony Hopkins film about Exorcism called the Rite, written from the perspective of the Catholic Church, It is said to be based on a true story and that the three main characters, possibly four are all based on real people who are continuing their work to day.

The film is also about the faith required to become and remain a Catholic priest, Michael Kovak played by Colin 0’Donoghue lost his mother when a primary level school boy and was brought up by his father a Mortician who insisted on the boy becoming familiar with his work with a view to him joining the family business. His mother had ambitions that he would become a priest similar to others in her family.

The one thing Michael does not want to be is a mortician or remain at home with his father and the only way he can afford a college education is say he wants to become a priest. However he lacks the one essential ingredient, faith and while he obtains straight A in his chosen subjects the one exception is the required religious studies! This lack of devotion is evident to his tutor but who then witnesses the capacity of the man to connect with people.

Michael as planned tends his resignation shortly before he is due to take his final vows and be Ordained. The Tutor (Toby Jones) warns that in strict accordance he could cancel the free four year college education and require repayment of the $100000 investment converting to a student loan. After receiving the email letter he sees Michael and calls out to him thus forcing a young cyclist to swerve and fall into the path of a car. Michael is asked by the victim to provide the last rites which he does reluctantly but brings the individual peace.

The tutor hits on the idea of sending Michael to a residential course in Rome to study Exorcism on the premises that this will provide a true test of his faith and once there among the students he is selected by the course Director to accompany Hopkins as Father Lucas on his work in the city. Because of the growth of referrals over the past decades the Church has taken the decision to appoint specialist priests in every area headed by a Bishop. Michael is even more sceptical of the need holding the view that those who are referred as possessed or hearing voices telling them to undertake evil deeds are not being possessed or driven by the Devil but are psychological disturbed and mentally ill.

In order to bring some female interest into the film, a female journalist has been permitted to attend the course and she is puzzled by his scepticism and lack of faith establishes a platonic relationship focussed on his experience.

Father Lucas involves Michael in one of his current cases in which a pregnant girl raped by her father appears possessed and initially Michael is horrified by the diagnosis and methods used by the Exorcist. When the child is born prematurely and the mother dies in circumstances where it is evident the girl could not have self harmed Father Lucas is devastated by his failure and the being crossed to him and also challenges Michael with a series of worst fear hallucinations. Accompanied by the Journalist Michael sets out to help Fr Lucas who he has come to respect and realising the man has become possessed he attempts to contact his superior only to find the man is away for the weekend and he is then faced with the rest of face as well as skill. He is successful. Michael becomes a priest back in the USA but also a priest recognised as a specialist in Exorcism in the area should the need arise, one of eleven such appointments said to have been made in the USA and Father Lucas reported to have been moved to a less challenging environment but where he continued his good works. The Journalist writes her story which received international attention.

I continue to regard myself as without religious faith but with a moral framework and educated conscience but I lack any experience of the supernatural since one or frightening dreams during sickness periods in early childhood when the Devil appeared to be a real being as subsequently portrayed by others in films suggesting similar childhood hallucinations or waking dreams.

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