Empire of Light, Rene Magritte

“I chose the house to match the Magritte painting”

“I saw [this painting] in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, its called Empire of Light by Rene Magritte.

I had that in mind..and I chose the house to match the Magritte painting… the streetlamp…the shaft of light.”

– William Friedkin, director, The Exorcist, 1973, Quote from the documentary film A Decade Under the Influence, 2003 on American Cinema in the 70’s

Actor Max von Sydow as the exorcist

Father Merrin’s arrival scene

Father Merrin’s arrival scene was filmed on Max von Sydow’s first day of work. The scene where the elderly priest, Father Merrin (portrayed by Max von Sydow) steps out of a cab and stands in front of the MacNeil residence, between the open gates of the driveway—silhouetted in a misty streetlamp’s glow and staring up at an intense beam of light shining from a bedroom window above. It is one of the most famous scenes in the movie and the shot used for the posters and the cover of the DVD/VHS releases. The scene and photo was inspired by the 1954 painting “Empire of Light” (“L’Empire des lumières”) by René Magritte.