The Pope’s Exorcist Vs. Fr. Amorth’s Real-Life Claims

For the unaware, The Pope’s Exorcist is based on the true story of Father Gabriele Amorth, the Chief Exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, who claims to have performed over 160,000 exorcisms in the course of his ministry.  The film has his two memoirs at its foundation: An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories. 

The horror movie stars Russell Crowe as the protagonist Father Amorth, who goes to Spain to try to save a 10-year-old boy, Henry, from possession.  In the process, he also uncovers a Vatican secret that could end the world.  However, The Pope’s Exorcist has taken many creative liberties in its making.

The Pope’s Exorcist merely borrows from real life.  Its storyline has several significant changes from Father Amorth’s memoirs and claims.  It detaches from reality, particularly in its third act.  Let’s delve deeper into the six most notable differences from Fr. Amorth’s real life:

SPOILERS AHEAD! This page contains spoilers from The Pope’s Exorcist.

1. Father Amorth became an Exorcist only at 61

The Pope’s Exorcist Vs. Fr. Amorth’s Real-Life Claims
Father Amorth, during one of his exorcisms

In The Pope’s Exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth is portrayed as an exorcist for years before the Pope approached him to become the Chief Exorcist.  In reality, Father Amorth, for a long time, was not related to exorcism and only became the Chief Exorcist at 61 years.  

Father Amorth, in real life, had been a fighter in World War II, studied journalism in Rome, and only delved into the world of possessions and exorcisms a lot later.  He felt a calling to serve God since young and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1954.  Only in 1986 was he appointed an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome.

In the movie, his character is shown to be an established exorcist before he is appointed the Chief Exorcist of the Diocese of Rome.  The character’s appearance and portrayal match very little with that of the real-life personality, and though the picture of him being a younger man gives more credibility to his energy while battling demons and the like, the character could have been his age (and closer to reality) like the elderly priest in the hit The Exorcist.

2. Father Amorth’s Real-Life Exorcisms Weren’t Against the Movie’s Demons

The Pope’s Exorcist Vs. Fr. Amorth’s Real-Life Claims
Russell Crowe as Father Amorth in The Pope’s Exorcist

The Pope’s Exorcist has taken all creative liberties to provide a fantastical thrilling horror experience.  In the movie, Father Amorth battles spirits and demons like Asmodeus, while the real Father Amorth’s exorcisms never involve the kind of dark forces depicted in the film.

Father Amorth, in reality, once said that out of 100 cases, only two might be possessed and require his expertise.  He explained he would never perform an exorcism based solely on someone’s claims of possession; he always directs people to psychiatrists and doctors first.  While he did see bizarre things during his career as an exorcist, those things didn’t involve the like of evil seen in the movie.

In The Pope’s Exorcist, Father Amorth is seen battling against actual demons and their nefarious plans, and it is a true horror movie in its visuals, plot, and cinematography.  And though these makeup for the entertainment factor, they are not from Father Amorth’s real life.

3. The Plot of The Pope’s Exorcist is Mostly Fictional

The Pope’s Exorcist Vs. Fr. Amorth’s Real-Life Claims
Henry, who Asmodeus possess in the movie

The Pope’s Exorcist is inspired by Father Amorth’s recounting of his experience, and several instances have made it into the plot.  However, the plot outline of Henry in Spain, Asmodeus, and a Vatican conspiracy was all born out of creativity and fiction.

Father Amorth has never in real life had to battle against a demon like Asmodeus or unravel and foil the plans of world doom.  Once, when asked whether the devil can strike inside the Vatican City, Amorth stated, “He has tried already.  He did it in 1981 by attacking John Paul II by working with those who armed Ali Ağca.” But Father Amorth was never put in a situation like in the movie.  His work was important enough for him to write several books and recount his journey as an exorcist, but the film’s plot is not straight out of his life.

4.  Father Amorth was not a Literal Superhero

The Pope’s Exorcist Vs. Fr. Amorth’s Real-Life Claims
Father Amorth and Father Esquibel in the movie

In The Pope’s Exorcist, Father Amorth is portrayed as a demon-hunting superhero who uses guns, goes on high-speed chases, and breaks down doors like an action movie superhero.  In reality, he is a priest who often uses unconventional methods for exorcisms, but never the likes seen in the movie. 

In the movie, Father Amorth appears to be an action hero, a demon hunter, who is a priest.  With his Lambretta and guns, he provides us with a thrilling, action-styled performance with a horror theme.  However, the real Father Amorth was never a gun-slinging superhero. 

5.  Father Amorth was Never Possessed

The Pope’s Exorcist Vs. Fr. Amorth’s Real-Life Claims
A scene from The Pope’s Exorcist

In The Pope’s Exorcist, Father Amorth allows himself to be possessed to save Henry and extract the demon Asmodeus.  However, in reality, Father Amorth never let himself be possessed and never underwent possession himself.  

Father Amorth was an exorcist who strove to end others’ possession and drive away all demons.  However, he never let a demon possess him to be a repository that the other priests could use to end the demon.  But this is what happens at the fantastical end of the movie.

6.  Father Amorth was Never a Member of a Group of Demon-Hunters

The Pope’s Exorcist Vs. Fr. Amorth’s Real-Life Claims
Father Amorth and Father Esquibel in another scene from the movie

At the end of The Pope’s Exorcist, Father Amorth is said to set out to exorcise all demons from the remaining unholy locations on Earth.  However, Father Amorth was never a part of such a mission in real life.  

Father Amorth and a Spanish priest, Father Esquibel, are assigned to remove all demonic presence from the Earth (particularly the remaining 199 unholy locations) at the movie’s end.  In reality, Father Amorth had priests assist him during exorcisms, but he never set out on a group mission to exorcise all demons from the world, as shown in the movie.

But this sets the movie for a sequel (depending on its performance at the box office).  We can expect much more artistic liberties in a future film, and though this strays away from reality, it makes up in terms of entertainment and thrill.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Stay tuned to Cine Dope for the latest updates on The Pope’s Exorcist!

7. About The Pope’s Exorcist

The Pope’s Exorcist is a 2023 American supernatural horror film directed by Julius Avery, and starring Russell Crowe as Father Gabriele Amorth. It is based on Amorth’s memoirs An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories.

In the film, Father Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist for the Vatican, battles Satan and innocent-possessing demons. It is a detailed portrait of a priest who performed more than 100,000 exorcisms in his lifetime.

The film also stars Daniel Zovatto, Alex Essoe, and Franco Nero. It was released in the United States and Canada on April 14, 2023.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

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