7.4/10
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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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2,072 ( 231)
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:

Murder. Evil. Infidelity. Madness. 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

Opening Weekend USA:

$234,258, 16 October 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,113,538
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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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

Actor Mike Hogben acts out his exclusive role once a year, on the anniversary of its release. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Last Horror Film (1982) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Trying way too hard
8 February 2015 | by mikeburdickSee all my reviews

I love ambiguity in films. Which is why Haneke's "Cache," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Picnic at Hanging Rock" all rank very highly amongst my favourite films. It's great when filmmakers give viewers credit and allow them to draw their own conclusions or search for their own meaning. Unfortunately, for "Possession," I don't really care enough about the characters to want to go through the mental gymnastics required to dig out the deeper meaning hidden in this film.

It's apparent early on in the film that much of the action is allegorical or meant to reflect the internal emotions of a couple going through a divorce. (God, I hope so. If it's meant to be a literal story, it's a monumental fail. A really annoying horror film.) If only there were an honest moment where you got to feel that these are real characters who perhaps were once a real couple with a real connection before the film slipped into allegory. A marriage can't slowly disintegrate if it never happened.

And it's disappointing, because I really like Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill, and rate them both as actors. They obviously put everything into their performances, which must have been very demanding, the only reason I can conjure up a few stars for this one. That and the special effects, which are super creepy and hold up well more than 30 years later. Oh, and the amazing German architecture.

But there are too many reasons it's hard to take this film seriously. The over-the-top acting, goofy choreography, elaborate camera moves for inconsequential moments, closeups so tight they managed to make even Isabelle Adjani look bad, soundtrack that's completely ripped off from "The Godfather." There were quite a few laugh-out-loud moments that I'm certain weren't meant that way.

Perhaps the filmmaker meant it as purely art, and it's raw emotion splattered on the screen. But my takeaway was, it's hopelessly dense. Every scene, every action, every movement, every word is imbued with a deeper meaning that, unfortunately, can only be deciphered by the filmmaker, and leaves the viewer with little more than the visceral experiences played out on the screen.


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