7.4/10
22,168
149 user 136 critic

Possession (1981)

Trailer
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 »
Reviews
Popularity
2,757 ( 105)
5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

An unexperienced young actress is invited to play a role in a film based on Dostoyevsky's 'The Possessed'. The film director, a Czech immigrant in Paris, takes over her life, and in a short... See full summary »

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Francis Huster, Valérie Kaprisky, Lambert Wilson
The Devil (1972)
Drama | History | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

During the Prussian army's invasion to Poland in 1793, a young Polish nobleman, Jakub is saved from the imprisonment by a stranger who wants in return to obtain a list of his fellow ... See full summary »

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Leszek Teleszynski, Wojciech Pszoniak, Malgorzata Braunek
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A story of doomed passion by two mortally ill people: he is physically, she is mentally.

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Sophie Marceau, Jacques Dutronc, Valérie Lagrange
Adventure | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A team of astronauts land on an inhabitable planet and form a society. Many years later, a single astronaut is sent to the planet and becomes a messiah.

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Andrzej Seweryn, Jerzy Trela, Grazyna Dylag
Repulsion (1965)
Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A sex-repulsed woman who disapproves of her sister's boyfriend sinks into depression and has horrific visions of rape and violence.

Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser
Drama | Horror | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Set during the occupation of Poland during World War II. Some German soldiers, slaughter a woman, her son and daughter-in-law. The husband and his father escape by being in the forest. The ... See full summary »

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Malgorzata Braunek, Leszek Teleszynski, Jan Nowicki
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A bank robber tries to return his girl, but crazy way of life coupled with insane company make the case only worse.

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Sophie Marceau, Francis Huster, Tchéky Karyo
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Servais Mont, a photographer, meets Nadine Chevalier who earns her money starring in cheap soft-core movies. Trying to help her, he borrows the money from the loan sharks to finance the ... See full summary »

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Romy Schneider, Fabio Testi, Jacques Dutronc
Musical | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The film is based on the musical recording of the famous opera by Modest Mussorgsky about the tragic events surrounding the ruling of the Russian tsar Boris in the early 17th century. The ... See full summary »

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Ruggero Raimondi, Kenneth Riegel, Bernard Lefort
House (1977)
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A schoolgirl and six of her classmates travel to her aunt's country home, which turns out to be haunted.

Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Stars: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Ohba
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An insurance investigator begins discovering that the impact a horror writer's books have on his fans is more than inspirational.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Sam Neill, Jürgen Prochnow, Julie Carmen
Suspiria (1977)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An American newcomer to a prestigious German ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a front for something sinister amid a series of grisly murders.

Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci
Edit

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
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:

...You'll Never Go Out Alone at Night Again. ("The Night the Screaming Stopped" release) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

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 »

Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Halliwell's, "it was released in the US in a 97 minute version". As such, the film was cut by about half an hour from its full running time of about 127 minutes. According to Yuri German at Allmovie, "the version originally released in the U.S. had 45 minutes chopped out". 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

Heinrich's mother: I've always wondered what is worse: to take another man's wife, to hurt a child, or to kill.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The first USA version released in 1983 had heavy edits. As well as being around 40 minutes shorter than the original, certain scenes have music and/or optical effects added to give it more of a horror film feel. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Massive Attack: Voodoo in My Blood (2016) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Compelling and Complex
24 July 2001 | by eibon09See 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.


50 of 63 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 149 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series



Recently Viewed