May 27th, 1981



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A young woman left her family for an unspecified reason. The husband determines to find out the truth and starts following his wife...

Release Year: 1981

Rating: 7.1/10 (4,531 voted)

Director: Andrzej Zulawski

Stars: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Margit Carstensen

A young woman left her family for an unspecified reason. The husband determines to find out the truth and starts following his wife. At first, he suspects that a man is involved. But gradually, he finds out more and more strange behaviors and bizarre incidents that indicate something more than a possessed love affair.

Writers: Andrzej Zulawski, Andrzej Zulawski

Isabelle Adjani - Anna / Helen
Sam Neill - Mark
Margit Carstensen - Margit Gluckmeister
Heinz Bennent - Heinrich
Johanna Hofer - Heinrich's mother
Carl Duering - Detective
Shaun Lawton - Zimmermann
Michael Hogben - Bob
Maximilian Rüthlein - Man with pink socks (as Maximilian Ruethlein)
Thomas Frey - Pink sock's acolyte
Leslie Malton - Sara, woman with club foot
Gerd Neubert - Subway drunk
Kerstin Wohlfahrt -
Ilse Bahrs -
Karin Mumm -

Taglines: Murder. Evil. Infidelity. Madness.

Release Date: 27 May 1981

Filming Locations: Berlin, Germany

Opening Weekend: $234,258 (USA) (16 October 1983) (21 Screens)

Gross: $1,113,538 (USA) (4 December 1983)

Technical Specs

Runtime: France:  | UK:  | USA: (cut)  | Argentina:

Did You Know?

Sam Waterston was considered for the role of Mark.

Anna: Because you say "I" for me.

User Review

There's Much More Going One Here Than You Think

Rating: 10/10

Yeah, Possession. The First time I saw this film I was catatonic by the end. My 3 friends and I talked about it so much we got 4 new friends to watch it with us again. We continued discussing & marveling over it and watched it yet again on the third night (ten people this time). Why? Because this isn't really a horror film. Yeah, there's a "monster", but only in America would this get relegated to the "Horror" genre. Because here, we usually make films to fit in a box, follow a formula or entertain, not as a catharsis for the director. Wake up my friends; not everything in life fits in tidy packages or makes rational sense. Several years ago there was an amazing fan site to this man's work (which doesn't seem to exist anymore) that went into infinite detail about his films and personal life. Suffice to say, there's much more going on here than you think.

During 1970's and 80's Poland, all films were approved by the Polish film commission and Zulawski's second film "Diabel" (1975) was banned. Made in Polish, "Diabel" was essentially cut off from it's only possible audience. He took a trip to France, ended up making a film and then returned to his homeland. He worked on yet another film for two years which the authorities did not allow him to finish. Since then he has basically lived and worked successfully in France.

"Possession" is the first film he made immediately following the 2nd incident in Poland. I read an interview where he talked about how his personal identity was in crisis at the time due to his divorce and being (for all intents and purposes) exiled from his homeland. "Possession" is better described as 3 films in 1. The first part is indeed a drama centering around a couple who's marriage is falling apart. As their discord escalates, it becomes a horror film with some scenes taking place only in the psyche of the wife. The last part is an action film, driving the frenzied pace even higher through chase sequences.

There are many lines of dialog (especially in exchanges between Heinz and Sam Neill) that were written as critique of his treatment by the government of Poland. In many ways this film is an examination of the internal landscape of Zulawski at that moment; divorced from his wife and exiled by his beloved homeland. It's astoundingly dramatized because he was probably on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and these characters/actors are screamingly portraying every pent-up emotion he wasn't allowed to say about Poland to his fellow countrymen. I love this film. I love every gut wrenching, hysterical, chaotic minute of it. Long live Zulawski.


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