Exorcism of Emily Rose || Truth behind the Scenes

· Science Religion Films

Exorcism of Emily Rose || Truth behind the Scenes

“A 2005 American courtroom drama horror film directed by Scott Derrickson.”  That’s how the Wikipedia defines the movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”. Though I thoroughly agree to the wiki authors and updaters about this description, I personally feel that this description is and will always be insufficient for a film like this. Of course, I do agree that there will be a mass majority against me with neutral or emphatically negative opinions. Quite natural, I believe.

It was a few months back that I happened to watch this movie. Unlike the usual paranormal or horror film flicks of the Hollywood ‘the case’ of Emily Rose just grabbed me so tight that after watching I decided to go for a dive in to the fascinating world of info’s the web about the film, especially because of the subtitle that says “BASED ON A TRUE STORY “ .
Yeah, right! That’s enough garnishing na?  Ok then let’s get to it straight. It’s true that the film had left me spellbound till the end credits , what was more fascinating was the surprises I got when I went out to have a glance about the background of the work. With the same excitement and awe, I’m presenting this knol to you. Hoping you’ll consider it as delicious food for thought  🙂  .

The Film

Written by Scott Derrickson & Paul Harris Boardman,   the film was directed by Scott himself and produced by his co-writer Paul & Gary Lucchesi. This 119 minute long film of budget $19 million had hit the screens by September 9, 2005. Based on IMDB database, it had collected $140,238,064 from the box office.
The plot of the film, as per wiki [1] goes like this ..

Lawyer Erin Bruner takes on the state when she fights in defense of a priest, Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson) who performed an exorcism on a young woman, Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter). She takes the case, albeit reluctantly, because she believes it will elevate her to senior partner at her law firm. Moore agrees to let her defend him only if he is allowed to tell Emily’s story.

The trial begins with the calling of several medical experts by the prosecutor, Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott). One expert testifies that Emily was suffering from both epilepsy and psychosis. The defense contests that she may have actually been possessed, though Bruner is careful never to say that in so many words. Indeed, Bruner explains that Emily was suffering from something that neither medicine nor psychology could explain, and that Moore as well as her family realized this and tried to help in another way. Several flashbacks show how this began.

As the trial proceeds, Erin Bruner begins to experience strange occurrences in her apartment at 3:00 AM, including strange smells and sounds. Moore warns her that she may be targeted by demons for possibly exposing them.

Seeing that the prosecution is putting up a seemingly solid medical case, Bruner decides to try to show that Emily may have actually been possessed. She calls in Dr. Sadira Adani (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a professor in anthropology and psychiatry, to testify about various cultures’ beliefs about spiritual possession. Thomas objects, and dismisses the testimony as pseudoscience.

Dr. Cartwright (Duncan Fraser), a medical doctor present during the exorcism, comes forward to reveal an audio recording made during the rite. Moore is then called to the stand to testify. The recording is played, and the film then flashes back to the exorcism. It is performed on Halloween night, because Moore believes it might be easier to draw out the demons on that night. Emily breaks her ties and jumps out a window, running into a barn.

They follow her, and inside the barn, they are subjected to such phenomena as unnatural gusts of wind and demonic screams and voices. The demon inside Emily refuses to name itself after repeated demands from the presiding Father, but finally reveals contemptuously that there are not one but six demons. They identify themselves as the demons who possessed Cain, Nero and Judas Iscariot, as well as the demons Legion, Belial, and Lucifer himself. Emily then finally utters in English “And I am Lucifer, devil in the flesh”.

Bruner calls Moore back to the stand the next day. He reads a letter that Emily wrote before she died. In the letter, Emily describes another vision she had the morning after the exorcism. Emily concludes the letter by saying: “People say that God is dead. But how can they think that if I show them the devil?” She then receives stigmata, which Moore believes is a sign of God’s love for her. Thomas counters that she could have incurred the wounds by self-injury.

Father Moore is ultimately found guilty; however, on a recommendation from the jury, the judge (Mary Beth Hurt) agrees to a sentence of time served. Bruner is offered a partnership at her firm, but she refuses and instead, she resigns. She goes with Moore to Emily’s grave, where he has put a quote (which Emily recited to him the day before she died) from the second chapter twelfth verse of Philippians on her grave: “Work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling.”
Have a look at the trailer of the movie here:

“There is no claim that The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a cinema masterpiece. Rather, it is a well-written and well-crafted film that deals with religious and Church questions in a secular world which, at the moment, has become intrigued by spirituality and ecclesiastical institutions.” – says Fr Peter Malone.



The True story behind the scenes..




December 7, 1979
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, USA
  Anneliese Michel
21, 1952
Birthplace: Klingenberg, Bavaria, Germany
Died: July 1, 1976
(cause of death: dehydration and malnourishment)

The Film FACE

The Real FACE


“I know that we did the right thing because I saw the sign of Christ in her hands. She was bearing stigmata and that was a sign from God that we should exorcise the demons. She died to save other lost souls, to atone for their sins.” – Anna Michel (Anneliese’s mother, 2005)

Who was Anneliesa Michael?


As per a WordPress writer (named Diabolical Confusions [2]):

Anneliesa Michel was a well-adjusted, generous, kind, unobtrusive and devoutly religious girl for her age. There had always been one story or another of her conducting herself in a generally positive manner. She was liked by many, and respected by all. She was a good student, and involved in a serious relationship with a boy named Peter who by all accounts genuinely loved her.

As per the Wiki Encyclopedia:

Anneliesa Michel was born on September 21, 1952 in Leiblfing, Bavaria, Germany to a strict Catholic family. When she was sixteen, she suffered a severe convulsion and was diagnosed with epilepsy. Soon, she began hallucinating while praying. In 1973, she suffered from depression and began to hear voices telling her that she was “damned”and would “rot in hell”.

Being admitted to an unnamed psychiatric hospital did not improve Michel’s health. Moreover, her depression began to deepen. She grew increasingly frustrated with medical intervention as it did not help. Long-term medical treatment proved unsuccessful; her condition, including her depression, worsened with time. Having centered her life on devout Catholic faith, Michel began to attribute her condition to demonic possession. Michel became intolerant of sacred places and objects, such as the crucifix, which she attributed to her own demonic possession. Throughout the course of the religious rites Michel underwent, she was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, which she may or may not have stopped taking.

In June 1970, Michel suffered a third seizure at the psychiatric hospital she had been staying in and was prescribed anti-convulsants for the first time. The name of this drug is not known (Gambutrol, mentioned in the movie, is a fictional drug) and it did not bring about immediate alleviation of Michel’s symptoms. She also continued talking about what she called “devil faces”, seen at various times of the day.

Michel became convinced that conventional medicine was of no help. Growing increasingly adamant that her illness was of a spiritual kind, she appealed to the Church to perform an exorcism on her. That same month, she was prescribed another drug, Aolept (pericyazine), which is a phenothiazine with general properties similar to those of chlorpromazine: pericyazine is used in the treatment of various psychoses, including schizophrenia and disturbed behavior. In November 1973, Michel started her treatment with Tegretol (carbamazepine), which is an anti-seizure drug and mood stabilizer. Michel took this medicine frequently, until shortly before her death.


 But as per the WordPress writer (named Diabolical Confusions [2]):

Father Ernst Alt, assistant exorcist to Anneliese Michel during these events, claims that Anneliese Michel rarely, if ever, spoke about herself. She was the type of person who liked and enjoyed helping others, constantly displaying compassion and empathy for her fellow person. Often times, when there were familial disputes, Anneliese would take the side of her younger sisters instead of her parents, because she liked to defend those who had trouble defending themselves.

Once Anneliese Michel became ill, she was placed in a hospital in Mittelberg, Germany. This was an establishment specifically designed as a sanatorium for sufferers of tuberculosis. While she was there, she spent her days and nights praying constantly and dedicated the rest of her time to strengthening her faith and her spiritual relationship with God. Her ultimate desire was to become a catechist, which is someone who teaches the principals of the Christian religion, especially one using a catechism. While in Mittelberg, Anneliese Michel experienced what would ultimately be the basis for the future court case attempting to disprove her experiences – she had her first seizure.

As a result of her stay at the Mittelberg hospital, Anneliese Michel was actually cured of her tuberculosis, and returned home. She then began to attend high school at Aschaffenburg, where everything was relatively normal up until the very end, when she began to have trouble speaking. At this time, in conjunction to the above problems, she also began to have trouble walking, often holding on to tables, chairs, beams, or any other material that would help her support her weight.

At this time though, in regards to Anneliese Michel’s newfound ailments, Anna, her mother, feels that this was only the beginning of the new phenomena that was about to rule this families coming days.

Also at this time, everyone began to notice a change in Anneliese. On top of the issues she was having regarding her speech and inability to support her own bodyweight, she was also having sudden onsets of severe depression and excessive sorrow, but that was also the least of her problems. During one night at the dinner table, Anna recalls a situation where Anneliese’s hands appeared to be “enormous”, to the extent that she would even claim that they were almost twice their normal size. Anyone who has an experience in these matters would not be surprised by this, as the demonic are notorious or manipulating the physical world, specifically the body of that which it possesses. At the table, when Anneliese noticed this, she was noted as saying “I have black hands. Savior, forgive me.

This was also right around the same time that Anneliese began to have troubling and often times horrifying visions. She claimed to see things, namely terror-inciting visions. “I see devil faces on the walls, they have seven crowns and seven horns.” she had said.

More from the writer is available from here:



Recommended reading (Includes the Exorcism Photos)            

Goodman’s book includes Anneliese Michel exorcism photos and transcripts. Due to a revived interest following the movie, the book has been republished. This is an opportunity to purchase it while it’s still in print. Get it from Amazon. Goodman based her book on court records and eye-witness accounts.



Some Questions:


Did Anneliese Michel really see the faces of demons on the people around her like Emily Rose did in the film?

According to The Washington Post, as she grew more convinced that she was possessed, Anneliese began to see the faces of demons on the people and things around her. Watch a Clip from the Film


When did Anneliese begin to experience strange symptoms?

In 1968, when she was 17 and still in high school, Anneliese began to suffer from convulsions. Court findings have her experiencing her first epileptic attack in 1969. It was then that a neurologist at the Psychiatric Clinic Wurzburg diagnosed her with Grand Mal epilepsy. Soon, Anneliese started experiencing devilish hallucinations while praying. She also began to hear voices, which told her that she was damned. The court determined that by 1973 Anneliese was suffering from depression and considering suicide. In 1975, convinced that she was possessed, her parents gave up on the doctors from the psychiatric clinic. They chose to rely solely on the exorcisms for healing (washingtonpost.com). Anneliese’s symptoms have since been compared with those of schizophrenia, and they may have responded to treatment (telegraph.co.uk).


Who first diagnosed Anneliese as being possessed?


The first unofficial diagnosis was made by an older woman who accompanied Anneliese on a pilgrimage. She noticed that Anneliese avoided walking past a particular image of Jesus, and that she refused to drink water from a holy spring. The woman also claimed that Anneliese smelled hellishly bad (washingtonpost.com). An exorcist from a nearby town examined Anneliese and concluded that she was demonically possessed. After two failed requests, the rite of exorcism was finally granted by the Bishop.

How many people were found guilty in Anneliese Michel’s death?

In the 2005 film, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, only one of the characters, Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson), was found guilty of negligent homicide surrounding the death of Emily Rose. In the real-life case of Anneliese Michel (pictured right), which took place in 1978, there were four defendants, not just one. They were Father Arnold Renz, Pastor Ernst Alt, and Anneliese Michel’s parents, Josef and Anna. All four were found guilty of negligent homicide and sentenced to six months in prison, suspended with three years’ probation.


Is it possible that Anneliese was copying what she had seen in William Friedkin’s 1973 film The Exorcist?

Director William Friedkin’s film The Exorcist was released in Germany in 1974, two years prior to the audio tapings of the exorcisms in which we hear Anneliese’s recorded voice (listen below). Even though her voice is quite chilling, it bares a striking resemblance to the growling, barking, and inhuman voice of Linda Blair from Friedkin’s film. This has caused some people to conclude that Anneliese was simply mimicking what she had seen in the film, if she had in fact seen the film. Upon its release in Germany, the movie created a sort of paranormal hysteria that swept the nation. European Psychiatrists reported an increase of obsessive ideas among their patients (moviesonline.ca). The movie however, does not provide explanation for the years prior to 1974, in which she was experiencing numerous other afflictions that she and those close to her had attributed to demonic possession.

Was there a doctor present during the exorcisms as in the film?

No. Around Easter time of the year that she died, Anneliese began to refuse food and drink. Her convulsions returned with a greater ferocity. No doctors were called (time-proxy.yaga.com). During the trial, specialists claimed that if the four accused (Father Arnold Renz, Pastor Ernst Alt, and the parents) would have begun to force feed Anneliese a week before her death, then she would still be alive. One of Anneliese’s sisters explained to the court during the 1978 trial that Anneliese did not want to go to a mental hospital where she would be drugged and forced to eat (moviesonline.ca).

In her book, The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel, Felicitas D. Goodman embraces the possibility that Anneliese was not epileptic, and that the medication the doctors had given her to control her seizures only made her hallucinations worse.

Did the exorcisms cause her bodily harm?

Yes. Anneliese (pictured right) endured 67 rites of exorcism over a period of 10 months. Over time, the ligaments in her knees ruptured due to the 600 genuflections that she performed obsessively during each exorcism session. A genuflection is an act of reverence consisting of falling onto one or both knees (called a “double genuflection”). On June 30, 1976, during her last rite of exorcism before her death, too weak and emaciated to perform the genuflections on her own, Anneliese’s parents stood and helped carry her through the motions. -moviesonline.ca

Listen to the Voice of Anneliese Michel

At the time of the release of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a German web site posted audio in which we hear the real Anneliese Michel’s voice during one of the exorcisms. The web site obtained the audio from one of the 43 taped recordings made during the 67 rites of exorcism that Anneliese endured for a period of 10 months. The commentators in the clips can be heard talking about the demons Cain, Nero, and Hitler, who Anneliese believed had taken over her body.
Anneliese Michel Exorcism Audio with English Translation ( Youtube Playlist link)                       .

Anneliese Michel Voice Audio – MP3, :12

Responses to the film:




Very well done filmmaking. But more than that, it also makes a strong argument for faith, albeit an extreme case involving demon possession. This story uses the demonic spiritual world for entertainment, but also effectively includes a well thought-out argument for faith versus fact. The drama is very well played, well acted and overall spiritually provoking. Didn’t care for the focus on prayer to Mary and the angel Michael, but there was also a good amount of references to Jesus Christ amidst the confrontation with evil. More than anything, it’s a brave tale helping prove the existence of the spiritual world. Great conflict. Excellent acting.

Chris Monroe, age 32

This movie made me have chest pains! I really felt ill. The things that happened during the priest’s trial could NO WAY have been coincidental. The devil was trying VERY hard to foil the case. He did NOT want Emily’s story told! We all need to be aware that this earth is also a SPIRITUAL place. There are good and evil spirits here. Beware!

My Ratings: Excellent!/5

Barbara Daniel, age 45



This movie left me disturbed. I was very bothered by the fact that people who don’t know much about the Bible, were left to believe that a Christian can be possessed. What made it even worse to me was that not only was this girl looked at as a saint, but that God put her in that place. If I didn’t know the Lord, I wouldn’t want to serve the God represented in that movie. I felt the poor girl was mentally ill, not possessed. I wouldn’t take my seeking friends or family. “The Exorcist” was a much more believable story. If I wanted to open someone up to spiritual conversation by scaring the tar out of them, that movie is the one. Not, Emily Rose.

My Ratings: Average / 3

Nicole, age 33

I agree with some of the folks on here that said Christians can’t become possessed. How did Emily become possessed after she grew up in the Catholic church? Didn’t they teach her how to defend herself from being possessed? If Christ lives in us, then how would Satan ever make it? I also felt that there was this fear of never being able to make the demons leave. The Name of Jesus works!! I am definitely more aware of my spiritual side after seeing this; it reminds me that I need to pay more attention and pray earnestly and without ceasing. I am glad I saw this movie!!

My Ratings: Average / 4

Marie, age 25


As others have noted, this film is “technically” well done. However, in regards to Christian entertainment, that should not be the main point. This film is filled with lies and knowing that Satan is the father of lies that should be reason enough not to see this movie. …I am very sorry I saw this film. First of all, a truly born-again cannot be possessed by demons. What disturbed me the most is this: Emily consented to the exorcism at first. When her father was injured during the exorcism it was stopped supposedly to be resumed later. Unfortunately, Emily then had the vision of the supposed Virgin Mary who told her she could either come with her and escape or she could stay in the state she was in so that people would know demons exist; her choice. So after that, Emily refused to undergo another exorcism. Has no one else realized what actually happened there? We are told in scripture that Satan can appear as an angel of light. I believe that is exactly what happened to Emily. He lied to her and made her think she was doing something righteous when actually he was cutting her off from being set free from his demons!!! This poor girl died in a possessed state. Jesus came that we might have LIFE and have it more abundantly.

The whole film pointed to demons being real. A Christian film should not be focused on demons, but should be focused on the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of His death and resurrection! The power of the name Jesus does have the power to cast out demons but you’d never get that from this film. The gospel “Good News” is all about Jesus, not demons. Before I was saved, I loved scary movies so I fell for Satan’s lie that a little movie like this won’t hurt me. Shame on me! I recommend that people, especially Christians, stay away from this movie.

My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 4

Tami, age 46

What the Writers say ?


In an interview by Steve Biodrowski, the writers responded about the film:

PAUL HARRIS BOARDMAN: It was very scary, and told us a little bit about the story related to that. When we got back from the trip, we started researching and found some public domain things, articles and eventually a book that was out of print. That was our jumping off point for this. After we got into it, we ended up fictionalizing it and turning the story into something [else]. We took certain dramatic license with it, but we took the basic events and the basic structure of that case as our inspiration.

SCOTT DERRICKSON: Once we decided to tell the story, in the real case I think it was the idea of a girl having died and a trial following an exorcism that presented obviously what we tried to do in the movie, which was to combine two genres of film. That was what excited us about doing it initially—to see if we could make it work, to blend two genres that we love into one film.

BOARDMAN: We both thought right away that the courtroom was a great arena for debate. We like the film RASHAMON. People talk about ‘RASHAMON this and that,’ for all these movies, whenever there’s multiple points of view. In this case it’s actually much closer to that structure, where you present evidence. By doing that, you get to look at something in several different ways. That was something we wanted to do from the beginning. We decided pretty early to start with her dead and go backwards—sort of the SUNSET BOULEVARD approach. It’s an interesting challenge for a film, because you can have a character who’s already dead but you have to be interested. [helped make film different from EXORCIST]

DERRICKSON: We tried to put at the center of the movie the question of why did she die, and what is the truth behind this phenomenon? And ultimately to not answer it.


BOARDMAN: We have a Scully-Mulder approach to this material, with me being a little more the skeptic and Scott the believer. We approach it and try to be very fair and even-handed to both points of view, to our points of view. That’s how we approach it analytically.

Was that horrible thing a demonic possession or a tragic mental illness?

The film ultimately doesn’t say, but it does present a critical and potentially controversial scene towards the end which attempts to explain how and why God might allow a devout follower to be possessed by demonic spirits. It is an explanation that Derrickson recognizes may be difficult for many Christians to accept. “I do not believe that a spirit-filled Christian can become demon possessed,” Derrickson says, choosing his words carefully. “However, what I will say, is that for every one of those theological rules that we like to systematically create there are often exceptions, and I don’t believe that God will tell me to go commit a sin, but he told Abraham to murder his son. I think that there are sometimes exceptions to the rule like that.”

Having tried to address the more specific theological questions that Christians might raise after watching the film, Derrickson quickly returned to the point that the intent of the film is to raise questions for those who may not have considered these issues rather than to confirm the answers of any group that has. “This movie is intended to stretch and provoke everyone who sees it, including Christians.”

Derrickson’s response reveals an attitude that is indicative of how the film is being marketed. He hopes that the audience will include Christians, but it is not intended exclusively nor even primarily for them. Whether he is successful, as a Christian director, in stretching and provoking a mainstream audience will have a lot to say about how successful “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” becomes.

The ideal audience response may be similar to that of Jennifer Carpenter, who said of making the film:

“It made me ask a lot of questions that I haven’t asked for years.”

By Abhijith Marathakam

References :
  • The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel [Paperback] by Felicitas D. Goodman
  • http://www.chasingthefrog.com
  • “Writing Emily Rose” Posted by: Steve Biodrowski in Hollywood Gothique. 
  • Hub Post by zoey24 on hubpages.com
  • http://historicmysteries.com/the-disturbing-exorcisms-and-death-of-anneliese-michel


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: