Movie: The Exorcist Dream Interpretation Breakdown

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at 2018.09.24
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One of the greatest American horror movies ever existed “The Exorcist”,  came out in 1973 was the beginning of subliminal and pure psychological horror.  The Exorcist isn’t just some run of the mill horror movie but a classic that still has the ability to scare any generation. Written by the great William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel was then transformed when he teamed up with director by William Friedkin to make this masterpiece.  It turns out that putting these two together created one of the highest grossing movie in our time.

Before we start dissecting the Father Karras nightmare we will give you a brief description on his current situation.  Father Karras is a Jesuit Psychiatrist who is handling a case which involves a young girl being possessed by a demon.  In his own personal life he is battling his own demons; suffering from a loss of faith mixed with having “left” his mother to die alone in a home who he truly loved.  Father Karras vivid nightmare has all the right ingredients to mimic what a nightmare feels like, and this is what Friedkin was able to capture in this scene.  The scene like any real vivid real dream has images and symbolism that would need to be interpreted metaphorically.

Lets break down with one of the first symbols of Karras dream that shows up the falling chain of St Christopher (The Saint of the travelers).  This powerful symbol shows his loss of faith as St Christopher is the one who protects us on our journey, commonly used to protect us in our cars when we drive. His most famous story, which is mainly known from the West and may draw from Ancient Greek mythology, tells that he carried a child, who was unknown to him, across a river before the child revealed himself as Christ.  Father Karras is fighting with his believe and the chain dropping shows the lack of faith.

The next symbol that we thought was quite symbolic was the black dog that looked similar to a wolf.  The black wolf is also symbolic to represent the “big bad wolf” or the “devil” that will come for him or chasing his mother back down to the depths of hell.  Wolfs can have a both a positive or negative symbol as show here “wolf symbolism“, but in this case a very bad sign of something dreadful will come.

A next common nightmare we all tend to experience is trying to run as fast as we can but are unable to get to where we need to go. The movie had a get ability to capture what it is like when we try and remember our nightmares.  Our dreams tend to  hyper-focus on the one you love in danger as the world moving around you is just a blur, just like this dream of Karras.  He is trying to wave and get the attention of his mother in danger as he tries to run to her but fails.

The next symbol of his mother can be interpenetrated in many different ways, though I feel the steps predicts his death. If you remember how Karras at the ending of the movie jumped out of the window to meet his faith on the treacherous steps.  The train station might mean the last stop suggesting his death.  Evidently famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud donated trains as a symbol of death.  Though he did have a fear of trains.  A next interesting dream symbol was his mother descend to the unknown.  Could this be a sign of the unconscious to conscious?   We know so far in the movie that Father Karris was having issues with his faith and upset over the fact he left his mother to die alone is now appearing in his dream.  Check out the small clip of the movie and judge for yourself.

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