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Possession (1981)

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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 »
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3,197 ( 10)
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:

Murder. Evil. Infidelity. Madness. 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

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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Isabelle Adjani told a French magazine that it took her several years to get over playing Anna. She also said that she'd never take on a similar role. 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: Don't make me force you.
Anna: I'll throw myself out the window!
Mark: You need it that much?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Dutch video version runs 119 min. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rewind This! (2013) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
What an experience!!!
31 May 2003 | by Krug StilloSee all my reviews

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


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