Back in a still-divided, seemingly empty Berlin, a high-level wheeler dealer returns to a marriage so suddenly rocky that he offers to go to a hotel. The choice of Berlin is not accidental, for the film’s three main characters (Anna, her husband, and her lover) are also split, having lookalikes. But though she claims not to have been unfaithful, there’s that soulful postcard from another man — and then it begins: the furniture-smashing restaurant argument, the extended binge, the confrontation with deceptively laid-back Heinz Bennent, the matched kitchen knife cuttings, the meetings in the creepily empty and desolate secret apartment, the blood-spattered murders, the crash into the police car, the sex with the doppelgänger. And then there’s that Thing, courtesy of special effects maestro Carlo Rambaldi.
Fantasized from Zulawski’s own messy divorce, the film can claim to be an underground cult horror banned under the 1984 ‘Video Nasties’ Act as well as being a prize winner at both the Cannes Film Festival and the César Awards. POSSESSION (1981) is a Bergmanesque marriage duel escalated into the violent, the surreal and the bizarre, featuring incredibly intense performances from and starring Sam Neill and Cannes and César Best Actress-awarded Isabelle Adjani.
“Seriously, when people tell you they've seen it all — the HAUSUs, the I AM CUBAs, the DARKTOWN STRUTTERS— here's a cinematic Black Lotus card you can throw down with confidence. The deranging effects of sexual jealousy have never been portrayed with more unhinged verve, between Bruno Nuytten's madly careening camera and know-no-fear performances by Sam Neill and especially Isabelle Adjani, whose subway-tunnel freakout makes the entire combined Nicolas Cage/Christopher Walken oeuvre look like Merchant-Ivory material.” —Jim Ridley, Nashville Scene
“Extreme in its displays of emotion, unbearably raw at times, and quite extraordinary. No single film represents Zulawski’s passions, technique and excesses better than POSSESSION. This is his BLUE VELVET, his THE HOLY MOUNTAIN.” —Russ Fischer, IndieWire
“Deservedly notorious, Andrzej Zulawski’s 1981 film POSSESSION plunges into a vertiginous free fall of amour fou, lust, hysteria, and unnameable, uncontainable passion.” —Nicolas Rapold, Artforum
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