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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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2,605 ( 662)
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

Opening Weekend USA:

$234,258, 16 October 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$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

The movie was a French-West German co-production shot in West Berlin, but it wasn't released in Germany until its DVD release in late 2009. 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: I met a man who loved everything, and he died in a flood of shit.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Japanese version running time is 123 minutes See more »

Connections

Referenced in Climax (2018) 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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