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Possession (1981)

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1:57 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Andrzej Zulawski

Writers:

Andrzej Zulawski (original screenplay), Andrzej Zulawski (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
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2,600 ( 157)
5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Isabelle Adjani ... Anna / Helen
Sam Neill ... Mark
Margit Carstensen ... Margit Gluckmeister
Heinz Bennent ... Heinrich
Johanna Hofer Johanna Hofer ... Heinrich's Mother
Carl Duering ... Detective
Shaun Lawton Shaun Lawton ... Zimmermann
Michael Hogben Michael Hogben ... Bob
Maximilian Rüthlein Maximilian Rüthlein ... Man with Pink Socks (as Maximilian Ruethlein)
Thomas Frey Thomas Frey ... Pink Sock's Acolyte
Leslie Malton Leslie Malton ... Sara, Woman with Club Foot
Gerd Neubert Gerd Neubert ... Subway Drunk
Kerstin Wohlfahrt Kerstin Wohlfahrt
Ilse Bahrs Ilse Bahrs
Karin Mumm Karin Mumm
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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:

She created a monster as her secret lover! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France | West Germany

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

28 October 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Night the Screaming Stopped See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,113,538

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,113,538
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mark has a book on his bookshelf on "The Religious life of the Japanese", and he finds Heinrich's postcard inside a German Book on the Tantra. See more »

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. See more »

Quotes

Mark: When I was a boy my dog crawled out onto the porch to die. Before the end it yelped, as if it had seen something real.
See more »

Alternate Versions

While the Anchor Bay DVD from 2000 and the Second Sight Blu-Ray from 2013 feature the same cut of the film, the DVD has a lot more incidental music on the soundtrack, most notably repeated instances of the dramatic piano theme that appears during the end credits of both versions. The Blu-Ray, however, does feature loud and sinister ambient music during a pivotal scene near the end of the film that contains no music on the DVD. See more »

Connections

References Scenes from a Marriage (1973) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Possession: Utterly Mad
1 April 2010 | by imagikingSee all my reviews

Famously violent, bloody and brutal, Possession is a member of that most hallowed hall of "Video Nasties" we know and love. Boasting scenes of some noteworthy infamy, Andrzej Zulawski's complex allegorical explanation of marital disintegration is known for its thematic obscurity.

In Cold War Berlin, Mark returns home from unclear duties to a marriage which is on its last legs. His wife Anna, suffering from increasingly inclement behaviour and mood swings brought about by their ailing relationship, is revealed to be having an affair, leading Mark to investigate. What he discovers is more bizarre even than his wife's drug loving German lover.

The one feeling which appears to be universal in conjunction with Possession is that of helpless confusion. As the credits roll, the only thing we can justifiably think is "What just happened?!" The film is utterly mad; unendingly so. From start to finish, I struggled not to miss a beat amidst the mire. Difficult to follow and impossible to understand at first, Zulawski's frustrating work leaves us scratching our heads for the entirety of its running time. Possession's gradual descent from a Kramer Vs. Kramer-esquire marital drama to a bloody and supernatural allegory is as surprising as it is bizarre and mental. Thereafter, we are treated to a visual feast of harrowing images and strangely violent outbursts. The increasingly insane plot is marred by overeager performances, though it is considerably attention grabbing. The film is not at all a bad one, providing a deeply interesting message (which may take time and thought to fully comprehend) albeit through a hazy, complicated and apparently nonsensical narrative. Additionally, Heinz Bennent's Heinrich is a wonderful and whimsical character, bringing an element of farcical comedy to the plot.

Managing to shock and surprise as well as stupefy, Possession is a film well versed in oddity. Exploring an interesting topic with a veiled depth, it gives us a message in an unconventional way which is quite brilliant in itself.


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