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Possession (1981)

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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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2,436 ( 499)
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 Stops 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

There's a sample of the screaming (during the subway scene) included in the end of Poesie Noire's song, "Pity For The Self" (1989). 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

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!
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Dutch video version runs 119 min. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
There's Much More Going One Here Than You Think
21 April 2005 | by sambsonwayfinder13See all my reviews

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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