Action / Drama / Horror


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Sam Neill as Mark
Isabelle Adjani as Anna / Helen
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896.57 MB
23.976 fps
2hr 4 min
P/S 11 / 22
1.87 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 4 min
P/S 8 / 14

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Krug Stillo ([email protected]) 10 / 10

What an experience!!!

Acting, colour, camera movement and story thrown into hyperactivity…What do you get? Well, the headache inducing, enthralling Possession. Beautiful, erotic and extremely disturbing, Andrjez Zulawski's film (admired by the Italian Master of the Macabre himself, Dario Argento) is an extreme assault upon the senses.

Mark (played excellently and deliberately over-the-top by Sam Neil) returns home from secret government work to his wife in Berlin, cue many shots of the Berlin wall representing the couple's marital breakdown. However, Mark's wife, Anna (a truly unforgettable, no holds barred and hypnotic performance from the lovely Isabelle Adjani) is behaving inexcusably strangely. Mark finds out that she is having an affair with Heinrick (another crazy performance from Heinz Bennet) and confronts him only to find that the lover has not seen Anna for some time. This is the part of the rollercoaster ride before your cart

plummets into some real thought-provoking, unsettling and scary surrealism.

Possession is definitely the film that requires many subsequent viewings. Excellent performances that frequently go way OTT, dreamily fluid camerawork and migraine inducing metaphorical horror, this is a true beast of the imagination. Love it or hate it, it is a true original masterpiece that is definitely not for all tastes. If films were placed in boxes and divided by flavours, like crisps, POSSESSION would sit in a box entirely by its self, awaiting only those who can take it. Go into it with an open mind like you've never gone into a film with one before. It can seriously mentally damage you if you try and figure it all out on that initial viewing, so beware; if there is truly anything to work out. The now infamous miscarriage in the subway scene is confusing, painful and sickening to watch and nothing like it can be found elsewhere. This is a hell of a film, if you're prepared for it!

`This for me exceeds anything thrown up by The Exorcist for sheer impact on the nervous system.' David Thompson - Sight and Sound

Reviewed by Alice Liddel ([email protected]) 7 / 10

Harrowing portrait of a disintegrating marriage.

Imagine Bergman's 'Scenes From a Marriage' filmed by Dario Argento using Kubrick's 'Shining' steadicam. I can't pretend to have actually UNDERSTOOD this intellectually rigorous horror film, but I do know that it is arguably the most beautiful film of the 1980s, that ugliest of cinematic decades.

The chief source of this beauty is Zulawski's camerawork, unsettling, spacious, constantly mobile, it achieves the kind of elaborate shots you normally expect with cumbersome, expensive equipment with the nimbleness of a handheld camera. Static scenes in repetitive milieux are subjected to awesomely complex movements, as the camera encircles, tracks, reveals, blocks, opens up space, creating a narrative that never stands still, offering us different, usually startling viewpoints within the one scene.

What is most remarkable is its transformation of scale - the film is set in Cold-War Berlin, a famously constricted city; the plot takes place mostly in inhumanly modern apartments or on streets, and yet the sense of size, scale, space is as monumental as a Fordian Western. This is apt for characters who are simultaneously confined and alienated by their environment. Even scenes of flamboyant repulsiveness, the puling monster mounting Isabella Adjani, Mark's lavatorial dispatch of Heinrich, have a clarity of composition that is simply breathtaking.

Unlike most horror films, which open with images of normality against which to measure the transgression of terror, 'Possession' hurls us into its relentless unpleasantness in medias res. Zulawski opens at full speed and never lets up. Mark in his car looks out at a city he hasn't seen for some time as if it is an alien land, full of troubling images, including an iron cross. Anna rushes to meet him. We assume they are husband and wife, reuniting, but their talk if full of exasperated dislocation. Mark has apparently come home too early. They have a son; after making love, their post-coital talk is full of Antonionian misunderstanding, uncertainty, alienation, cruelty.

These scenes create the mood of the whole film. 'Possession' is shot in English with a French lead by a Polish director. The dialogue has a stilted quality, like a translation from some lost original; this sense of not-quite-rightness extends to the acting, and the scenes themselves, which seem too mannered, too abrupt, too stylised to seem natural. This sense of the drama being at one remove from some original 'reality' is perfect for a film about alienation - people alienated from themselves, each other, their marriage, their home, even their identity.

The horror that constitutes the film obviously has its roots in the female hysteria (one scene in a subway, remembered by Anna, has her miscarry, as she pours out blood and milk, the essence of her femaleness spilling from her; the toilet scene between Heinrich and Mark has a gynaecological terror similar to Argento's 'Suspiria') and male bestiality that cannot be hidden by affluent modernity, but this, on its most basic level, is a harrowing portrait of a failed marriage, horribly truthful to anyone who has even rejoiced in that institution.

All the while we are constantly reminded of the contemporary political reality - Mark's espionage (or is he an assassin?) activities; the wired Berlin wall with its faceless surveillance guards (a divided city, a divided marriage, literally divided people, the whore and the madonna). The film has a lot of talk about faith, chance, God, good and evil, but its true power is recognisably more mundane, yet more unaccountably wrenching than that. One should not overlook the comic sense that flickers through the film, the exaggeration of scenes by prolonging them (the restaurant scene), and the Franju-like waltz-of-death music.

Reviewed by chaos-rampant 10 / 10

"The only thing to fear is God"

This film doesn't do anything in halves, it doesn't abide by the mock humility of an understated/minimalist film that says "I am important but I'm not gonna show it to you". I generally love overstated/baroque movies as much as I like overactors (Kinski, Bette Davies, Nic Cage) but Possession goes beyond Gothic, it flaunts itself in violent anarchy even when it knows it's not being important. It's a movie in a constant state of violent flux, a chaotic maelstrom of emotion threatening to rip apart at the seams by force of its own negativity, an excess of emotion and abundance of expression. I don't know what Zulawski is trying to say through the film about his own divorce from wife and country and political system, like Eraserhead it's something so personal that it pierces through bottoms of the soul to come out at the other end and speak for things that touch all of us.

Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani see their marriage come crashing down and the film is not merely the death and burial but the wake before and the mourning after. I don't like how Zulawski uses Isabelle Adjani to play different characters very calculated to be different sides of the same person, but then again I don't like movies that do that, it's like a very easy way to a quick symbolism (Ashes of Time, another film I saw recently, does that too). And I don't like who the monster turns out to be, for the same reason, and also because the monster, bloody and deformed, is a better parable of all the bile and hatred and oppressed furious anger felt the character who nurses it to life. The symbolism is too clear almost.

But the rest of the film you watch in stupefied silence. Possession is like a woman in the grip of hysterics running around an apartment tossing and breaking things and cutting herself up with a meat knife, arms flailing like an armature of a tentacled beast ready to tear itself out from a human body.

What Zulawski does here is perfectly illustrated in one scene: the couple have one of their terrible rows in the apartment, the woman storms out, music cue plays then stops, and we get the impression the scene has played out, we expect the cut. But then Zulawski has the camera track behind the man as he chases the woman down the stairs of their apartment and out in the street, pulling at each other and yelling in the middle of an empty intersection, then a truck carrying beatup cars comes rolling by, cars falling crashing down from it. Like the wail of a banshee, Possession is demented and frightful.

It's a movie that doesn't happen in the same place as other movies. Sometimes it gets hard for me for example to differentiate the look and feel of one noir from the other, one NYC crime flick from the other. Like Don't Look Now with its Venetian labyrinths, this has a sense of place and a malevolent presence in that place. It happens in that part of the city where other movies don't know how to go, the streets are different, the buildings and apartments look curiously different, and when an apartment catches on fire, there's a strange old woman down in the street corner yelling things about God ("giving the light clear, getting it back dirty") and cackling maniacally as though an end to the world is very close at hand.

Both Sam Neil and Isabelle Adjani give performances of a lifetime. Neil is going through the motions though, except for his 'going mad in a hotel room' scene in the beginning, his madness is external, pantomimed. Isabelle Adjani lives it though, feels and breathes it. She gives perhaps the most outstanding female performance I have ever seen. Her scene in the subway station, all spasmodic intensity and wordless cries, affected me physically like no other, at once monstrous and immensely sad.

This movie is a nervous breakdown and an agnostic lament against an absent indifferent God captured on celluloid. The tagline for the American release reads "She made a monster her secret lover", but this is not that type of film. This is like few films ever made, before or after, and is done with the ferocity of someone going mad in four walls, now perhaps clawing at the walls with blood and bile and staring at his designs as though there might be pattern and order there.

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