Legendary director William Friedkin has passed away. He was 87 years old.

Friedkin's journey through cinema reads like a masterclass in eclectic storytelling. He was the man behind movies like The Exorcist, The French Connection, Sorcerer, and Killer Joe.

Born on August 29, 1935, in Chicago, Friedkin's knack for pushing boundaries and defying conventions has left an indelible mark on the film industry.

He was famous for being as outspoken as he was innovative. Starting with TV shows and documentaries, he quickly rose to prominence in 1971 with The French Connection. This crime thriller became a sensation known for its gritty realism and pulse-pounding car chase sequences that redefined action on screen.

The movie won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director for himself.

Friedkin was a pioneer in employing a gritty, documentary-like approach to storytelling. His commitment to realism set a benchmark for capturing the authentic nuances of characters, environments, and situations, influencing a new generation of filmmakers to prioritize authenticity over artifice.

Two years after The French Connection, Friedkin redefined the horror genre with The Exorcist, a spine-tingling tale of possession that set the standard for all supernatural horror films. The movie showcased Friedkin's audacious storytelling style and personal flair for conflicted characters.

That movie earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director.

Friedkin told Cinephilia Beyond that he didn't even set out to make a horror film when it came to The Exorcist.

“I recognize that audiences for generations have considered it a horror film,” he said. “I won’t deny that, but when I set out to make it, the writer and I never had any concept of it as a horror film. We thought of it as a powerful, emotional, disturbing story.”

That movie also caused a stir that allowed him to bristle conservative viewers with his unabashedly brave storytelling. While not every project hit the bullseye, his willingness to experiment and embrace new challenges underscored his status as a filmmaking trailblazer. He was someone whose films all try something.

‘The Exorcist’ Director William Friedkin Has Never Made a Film for Himself | TCMFF 2023www.youtube.com

Even in the face of commercial and critical setbacks, Friedkin remained undeterred, a testament to his commitment to his craft.

His directorial legacy endures, inspiring filmmakers to embrace risk-taking and forge their own unique paths in the industry.

Friedkin was also hilarious. He spoke his mind to anyone who would listen, and he was fervently committed to storytelling as well as the audience experience.

One of my favorite Friedkin quotes sets the marker for what it means to be a director.

He said, "The first work of the director is to set a mood so that the actor's work can take place, so that the actor can create. And in order to do that, you have to communicate, communicate with the actors. And direction is about communication on all levels."

Rest in peace.