Those familiar with Scott Derrickson’s movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and others interested in the subject of demons and possessions are likely to be haunted by the story of Anneliese Michel, the German girl whose death led to the now historically famous prosecution of priests that became the substance for Derrickson’s movie. Anneliese Michel: A True Story of a Case of Demonic Possession (2012) is an independently published book by Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea and Lawrence E. LeBlanc that tells the real life story of Anneliese’s possession, death, the trial of the exorcists, and the aftermath.
Written by an experienced theologian, Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea, who has in-depth knowledge of possessions and exorcism, this book documents the events that led to the now famous trial of the priests who performed exorcisms on Anneliese Michel. Fr. Fortea presents the case with details of the actual transcripts of interaction between the exorcists and Anneliese’s demons, not seen in the movie. He also offers his analysis of what was going on and why, particularly addressing questions about faith-based issues and the significance of the choices made by Anneliese, her family, and the priests trying to help her from their Christian viewpoint.
One interesting and important feature of the book is the commentary of Father Ernst Alt, one of the two priests indicted and tried for Anneliese’s exorcism, who decided he couldn’t stay silent anymore. Two of his commentaries are included in a chapter, one 10 years after the trial and the second 30 years after the trial.
Anneliese Michel: A True Story of a Case of Demonic Possession talks about the possible cause of Anneliese’s possession – why it happened at all – with information not shown in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Readers who are only familiar with the movie and all those who do not know the details of the original story (this reviewer included) will find in this book a treasure of revelations. And yes, select segments of the exorcists’ Q&A with the demons are included verbatim at the end of the book.
The strengths of this book include a fairly objective narrator – who makes sure to separate his opinions from the objective details of the events – a chronological order of the events, and easy-to-understand description of certain faith-based concepts that are relevant to the case. A list of related resources – books and other material – adds to the book’s merits. It’s a recommended read for those who are familiar with the story of Anneliese and want to learn more.