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Possession (1981)

R  |   |  Drama, Horror  |  28 October 1983 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 10,889 users  
Reviews: 108 user | 105 critic

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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(original screenplay), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Title: Possession (1981)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Anna / Helen
...
Mark
Margit Carstensen ...
Margit Gluckmeister
Heinz Bennent ...
Heinrich
Johanna Hofer ...
Heinrich's mother
Carl Duering ...
Detective
...
Zimmermann
Michael Hogben ...
Bob
Maximilian Rüthlein ...
Man with pink socks (as Maximilian Ruethlein)
Thomas Frey ...
Pink sock's acolyte
Leslie Malton ...
Sara, woman with club foot
Gerd Neubert ...
Subway drunk
Kerstin Wohlfahrt
Ilse Bahrs
Karin Mumm
Edit

Storyline

During a secretive business trip away, Mark learns that his wife Anna is growing restless in what he believed was their happy marriage. Upon his return home, he learns from her that she wants a divorce. They both go through a series of different emotions related to their situation, Mark's which is generally obsessive about learning why Anna, who he still loves, wants the divorce, and Anna's which is generally increasingly histrionic in getting away from Mark. Caught in the middle is their infant son Bob, who Mark uses as a gage to Anna's mental state. Anna states that her want for the divorce is not because of another man, but Mark finds out that Anna has a lover named Heinrich. In the meantime, Mark also meets Bob's teacher Helen, who looks exactly like Anna, but is her polar opposite in temperament. Starting a relationship with Helen lessens his obsession with Anna. But as Mark and Anna's encounters together reach more emotional and violent levels, Mark, with help of a private ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Murder. Evil. Infidelity. Madness. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

28 October 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Night the Screaming Stops  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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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). See more »

Quotes

Helen: Will you promise me something?
Mark: Yes.
Helen: Whatever it is.
Mark: I promise.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Compelling and Complex
24 July 2001 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

Possession(1981) shows the viewer a relationship deep in dementia and repressed emotions. Mark and Anna stay together until the Death do us part moment. The family of Anna and Mark is probably the most disfunctional family ever portrayed on scree. The marriage of Anna and Mark is unstable to the point of total meltdown. The marriage is driven by harsh love, secretcy, and oppressed feelings of desire.

Isabelle Adjani gives a fantastic performance in the duel role of Anna and Helen. Anna and Helen are the polar opposites in their manners and personalities. One thing they have in common is their current life is shrouded in mystery. Helen in my opinion is Mark's fantasy of Anna as someone who is normal and stable. I find it interesting that Anna & Helen never meet or are seen together during the entire length of Possession(1981).

The East Germany locations are part of what makes Possession(1981) a special piece of film. The marriage of Anna and Mark is symbolic of the wall that divided Germany for many years. In Possession(1981), East Germany is a Kafkaesque place of fear, oppression, paranoia, and repression. With the bright lit lighting and colors East Germany gains the appearence of something futuristic. Gives East Germany a cold and indifferent feeling that inhibits every resident.

1981 was a year which gave us two extrodanory performances from actresses Isabelle Adjani and Zoe Tamerlis. Both put forth an emotional complex and disturbing performance in Possession(1981) and Ms. 45(1981). These two features show women with seas of emotions trapped within them until their frightening descent into madness. Both films seem to have been influenced by Repulsion(1964). Ms. 45 and Possession were two of the most underrated films of 1981.

Possession(1981) is steeped in complex and confound religious symbolics. The landscape of the motion picture is a place that has lost touch with its own spiritualty. The film needs to be watched more than three times in order to get a close clear understanding of the symbolic meanings. The main characters in the film(except Heinrich) no longer have any faith in religion. The final scene seems to symbolize the apocalyptic end of the world that is an element of Christianity.

The best way to see or try to understand Possession(1981) is in its full 127 minute version. The 81 minute version is one of the worst editing jobs ever done to an import film for American release. For example the opening and closing scenes were totally botched in the film's American release in 1981. Thus the movie was misintrpeted by many film goers and critics. Thankfully, Possession has been restored on Video in its uncut form.

The cinematography is one of the key aspects in Possession(1981). It moves among the characters of the film with sinister steps. Bruno Nuytten uses some excellent techniques to describe to events of the film. The DP and Director work together to create an intense and terrific type of genre film making. The role of DP was Bruno Nuytten's early step towards becoming a film director.

Possession(1981) is a mixture of a few different genres in cinema. The genre that the film belongs to in large parts is the horror genre. Inspired story by both director, Andrzej Zulawski and writer, Frederic Tuten. There is a wonderful plot twist near the end that is one of Possession's best moments. Its the kind of film I would expect from someone like David Cronenberg.

For her brave and courageous performance in Possession(1981), Isabelle Adjani won a Best Actress award at Cannes. She has been playing brave and difficult roles since The Story of Adele H(1975). She would play a similar character like this in One Deadly Summer(1986). Possession(1981) is a personal favorite of Dario Argento. Done by Andrzej Zulawski because of his frustrations to see an earlier film in Poland by him censored by that country's government.

An early film appearence by Sam Neil that may just be his top performance as an actor. The creature is a top of the line creation by Special Effects artist, Carlo Rambaldi. Shares some similarities with David Cronenberg's The Brood(1979), and Mario Bava's Shock(1977). A daring motion picture that should be watched by mature and open minded people. Possession(1981) blew my emotions away with its tense opening scene to its spine tingling and chaotic final moment.


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