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Business News/ News / World/  William Friedkin, director of ‘The Exorcist’ and 'The French Connection' passes away at 87
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William Friedkin, director of ‘The Exorcist’ and 'The French Connection' passes away at 87

Renowned filmmaker William Friedkin, known for movies like ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The French Connection,’ has died at 87.

A member of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce leaves flowers on the star of director William Friedkin on August 7, 2023 in Hollywood, California. William Friedkin, the groundbreaking US director of 'The Exorcist' and 'The French Connection,' died on August 7, 2023, a family friend told AFP. He was 87. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (AFP)Premium
A member of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce leaves flowers on the star of director William Friedkin on August 7, 2023 in Hollywood, California. William Friedkin, the groundbreaking US director of 'The Exorcist' and 'The French Connection,' died on August 7, 2023, a family friend told AFP. He was 87. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (AFP)

Renowned American filmmaker William Friedkin, known for directing iconic movies like "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection," has passed away at the age of 87.

A close friend of the family informed AFP about his demise on Monday. Friedkin had been residing in Los Angeles and had been facing various undisclosed health challenges in the past few years, according to Stephen Galloway, a former executive editor at the Hollywood Reporter.

"He died this morning," confirmed Galloway, after speaking with Friedkin's wife.

The director had "been working until a few weeks ago," but "had been in declining health," he added.

AFP reported that director Guillermo del Toro took the forefront in honouring William Friedkin, by hailing him as "one of the Gods of Cinema."

"Cinema has lost a true Scholar and I have lost a dear, loyal and true friend," he wrote on social media.

Fellow horror director Eli Roth posted a tribute on Instagram to "one of the most impactful directors of all time" who "set the course of my life in a different direction." Actor Elijah Wood described Friedkin as "a true cinematic master whose influence will continue to extend forever."

Friedkin belonged to a notable group of emerging directors during the 1970s known as the "New Hollywood" cohort. This collective played a pivotal role in fundamentally transforming the landscape of the American film industry. Their influence disrupted the longstanding dominance of influential studio producers within the industry.

In the company of other visionary filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, Friedkin burst onto the Hollywood stage in 1971 with his raw and intense police drama "The French Connection."

It secured five Oscars, notably for best director and best picture, a remarkable feat for "The French Connection" in 1971.

In his subsequent work, Friedkin delivered "The Exorcist" in 1973. This film not only achieved significant commercial success and garnered critical acclaim but also courted substantial controversy. The provocative movie, centering on a 12-year-old girl possessed by malevolent forces, received 10 Oscar nominations, securing victory in two categories. Its earnings ultimately reached a staggering $440 million, AFP reported.

The film's impact extended to the creation of multiple sequels, including an upcoming trilogy produced by horror specialist Jason Blum. This trilogy will feature Ellen Burstyn reprising her role as the protagonist from the original film.

In a statement Monday, Blum said he was "personally indebted" to Friedkin.

"More than any other filmmaker, he changed both the way directors approached horror films and also the perception of horror films in the broader culture," he said in a statement obtained by trade website Deadline.

"We are deeply saddened to hear of his passing and intensely grateful for the body of work he has left behind."

Following the stratospheric success of "The Exorcist," Friedkin's career went into sharp decline.

He released "Sorcerer" in 1977 -- a hugely expensive flop in its time, although fans such as bestselling horror author Stephen King praised the film in tributes Monday.

"Very sorry to hear of the passing of William Friedkin, a deeply talented filmmaker," King wrote. "THE EXORCIST is great, but for me the real classic was SORCERER."

Friedkin remained an active director even in his later years, continuing to helm projects into his 80s.

His last cinematic endeavor, titled "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" and featuring Kiefer Sutherland, is scheduled for its debut at the upcoming Venice Film Festival of this year.

Friedkin, who was once married to French actress Jeanne Moreau, is survived by his fourth wife, Sherry Lansing -- a former Paramount Pictures studio chief -- and two sons, AFP reported.

(With inputs from AFP)

 

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Published: 08 Aug 2023, 09:04 AM IST
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