Possession (1981)

R   |    |  Drama, Horror


Possession (1981) Poster

A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister.

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7.4/10
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  • Isabelle Adjani in Possession (1981)
  • Isabelle Adjani at an event for Possession (1981)
  • Isabelle Adjani in Possession (1981)
  • Isabelle Adjani in Possession (1981)
  • Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill at an event for Possession (1981)
  • Isabelle Adjani and Andrzej Zulawski in Possession (1981)

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21 April 2005 | sambsonwayfinder13
10
| There's Much More Going One Here Than You Think
Yeah, Possession. The First time I saw this film I was catatonic by the end. My 3 friends and I talked about it so much we got 4 new friends to watch it with us again. We continued discussing & marveling over it and watched it yet again on the third night (ten people this time). Why? Because this isn't really a horror film. Yeah, there's a "monster", but only in America would this get relegated to the "Horror" genre. Because here, we usually make films to fit in a box, follow a formula or entertain, not as a catharsis for the director. Wake up my friends; not everything in life fits in tidy packages or makes rational sense. Several years ago there was an amazing fan site to this man's work (which doesn't seem to exist anymore) that went into infinite detail about his films and personal life. Suffice to say, there's much more going on here than you think.

During 1970's and 80's Poland, all films were approved by the Polish film commission and Zulawski's second film "Diabel" (1975) was banned. Made in Polish, "Diabel" was essentially cut off from it's only possible audience. He took a trip to France, ended up making a film and then returned to his homeland. He worked on yet another film for two years which the authorities did not allow him to finish. Since then he has basically lived and worked successfully in France.

"Possession" is the first film he made immediately following the 2nd incident in Poland. I read an interview where he talked about how his personal identity was in crisis at the time due to his divorce and being (for all intents and purposes) exiled from his homeland. "Possession" is better described as 3 films in 1. The first part is indeed a drama centering around a couple who's marriage is falling apart. As their discord escalates, it becomes a horror film with some scenes taking place only in the psyche of the wife. The last part is an action film, driving the frenzied pace even higher through chase sequences.

There are many lines of dialog (especially in exchanges between Heinz and Sam Neill) that were written as critique of his treatment by the government of Poland. In many ways this film is an examination of the internal landscape of Zulawski at that moment; divorced from his wife and exiled by his beloved homeland. It's astoundingly dramatized because he was probably on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and these characters/actors are screamingly portraying every pent-up emotion he wasn't allowed to say about Poland to his fellow countrymen. I love this film. I love every gut wrenching, hysterical, chaotic minute of it. Long live Zulawski.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Isabelle Adjani won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981 for her performances in both this picture and James Ivory's Merchant-Ivory Production of Quartet (1981).


Quotes

Anna: No one is good or bad, but if you want, I'm the bad one. And if I knew he existed in this world, I would have never had Bob with you!


Goofs

In the kitchen scene where Anna cuts herself with an electric knife, Mark picks it up and starts slicing his left arm multiple times. The next day, he is in the kitchen again with his sleeves rolled up, but there are no cuts on his arm. Given the surreal nature of this film, this could have been planned. The camera focuses on the supposedly sliced arm. One can only speculate what message was intended, if in fact the "gaff" was intentional.


Alternate Versions

The shortest version of Possession runs 80 minutes and was cuts in nearly every scene with a number of scenes being completely deleted, especially near the end. Several scenes were also moved to another location. Anna's ballet lesson and Mark's report to his superiors were used as a pre-credits sequence. Anna's miscarriage in the subway tunnel appeared before Mark visited Heinrich and Mark's first encounter with Helen appeared after he sat on the bed by Margit. The film's climax was rendered incomprehensible by the heavy use of filters and editing. The film also featured a new soundtrack, composed by Art Philips (III), playing up the horror aspect of the film featuring a children's choir rendition of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and other themes featuring distorted voices and synths.

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Genres

Drama | Horror

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