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Possession (1981)

Isabelle Adjani , Sam Neill , Andrzej Zulawski  |  R |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Margit Carstensen, Heinz Bennent, Johanna Hofer
  • Directors: Andrzej Zulawski
  • Writers: Andrzej Zulawski, Frederic Tuten
  • Producers: Marie-Laure Reyre
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • DVD Release Date: May 9, 2000
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305839980
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,335 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Possession" on IMDb

Special Features


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A distorted look into the mirror of love-- a must! June 26, 2000
By Miguel
After many years of acquiring a cult status of mythical proportions, Zulawski's "Possession" finally comes to the viewers as it was originally supposed to be seen.
This is not an easy movie to see or to understand -- and I suppose it neither was easy to write or film. The characters are severely neurotic and seem to thrive on their bizarre behaviour (in more ways than one) yet they are somehow all too human. Like the movie ultimately suggests (once you get to see the secret trick the movie plays on the two leads), this story may be like looking into a mirror, though dark and distorted.
Meet Mark (Sam Neill), an overworked man with a mysterious job that takes him "to far away places". Meet his lovely wife, Anna (an overwhelmingly beautiful Isabelle Adjani), a sexually frustrated housewife and former ballet instructor who has much more than meets the eye going on for her.
Between quarrels and reconciliations, these two share a nice apartment in a quiet and well-to-do district of Berlin and have a five year old son, Bob, but they also share a horror that no one could have suspected, and that will make all their fantasies and nightmares come true.
After being brutally butchered by Vestron Video for its original release, "Possession" has been restored to its original lenght and sequence, therefore becoming coherent for the viewers who used to find it mind-numbingly strange.
I think of it as a very unique piece of craftmanship, part Ingmar Bergman drama, part Polanski suspense thriller, part Dario Argento gore, part Kubrick satire, part Buñuel surrealism and still somehow, very much its own.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's Much More Going One Here Than You Think April 21, 2005
By Sambson
Yeah, Possession. The First time I saw this film I was catatonic by the end. Three friends and I talked about it so much we got 4 new friends to watch it with us again. We continued 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; whereas this one seems to be about catharsis for the director.

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, it was essentially cut off from it's only possible audience. He took a trip to France, made his 3rd film and returned to his homeland to do the 4th. After two years work the authorities would not allow him to finish it. Since then he has lived and created successfully in France.

"Possession" is the first film he made immediately following the second incident in Poland; just as his marriage was dissolving, and is better described as 3 films in 1. The first part is a drama centered around a couple who's marriage is falling apart. As the discord escalates, it becomes a horror film with some scenes potentially taking place only in the psyche of the wife. The finale is an action film that drives the frenzied pace even higher through chase sequences.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like it in the whole world... April 25, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is absolutely the strangest, most disturbing thing ever made with a camera. It is the story of a man and woman who are having marital problems. She has been cheating on him, at first with a human, then with a thing that is definitely not a human (at first anyway). Her second lover turns out to be some kind of tentacled thing that likes to make a little love and eat a little flesh. Once the husband finds out about this, it's all downhill from there. "Possession" is a very surreal, deeply symbolic movie that will simultaneously creep you out, play with your head, make you want to vomit, and kickstart your imagination. It's set in Berlin, which gives it a somber, eerie feel to begin with. Sam Neill and Isabel Adjani both deliver stunning performances (especially in the infamous subway scene, which you'll never ever forget). The ending is very unsettling and completely unclear, yet it somehow works. Be patient with this movie and it will teach you a thing or two about the nature of guilt and what repressed emotions can do to a person's soul. A very powerful movie that should never be viewed in its edited version. Thank you, Anchor Bay, for re-releasing this jewel in its entirety.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Polanski Meets Cronenberg in EuroTrash Art Flick May 18, 2000
Possession is one of those rare films that once seen can be never forgotten. Whether you like it or not is another matter. A Deeply disturbing and thought-provoking piece, played by its cast at an unflinching fever pitch (Adjani and Neill seem to be shouting at each other through most of the film), Possession is a curious blend of several genres: art house, Grand Guignol, sexflick, spy thriller, psychological drama (a la The Ice Storm, although the marital chill here is much icier)...and more.
Set in Berlin during the Cold War and filmed in English by Polish director Zulawski, we have here an outrageously sick tale (it remains banned in the UK to this very day) of an extremely 'paranoid' (or is he?) husband whose spying on his cheating wife takes him on a nightmare journey that involves espionage, doppelgangers and dream lovers, men in pink socks who could bring about the End of the World, and a truly Freudian many-tentacled creature (designed by Alien's Carlo Rambaldi) that is a monster classic out there with the best of them.
Possession holds our attention much as a deformed exhibit in a circus sideshow does. Its stomach-churning set pieces (witness: the self-mutilation by electric knife; the miscarriage in the subway spewing forth buckets of blood and pus; images of drowning children; and the freakiest sex scene ever) although beautifully framed and lit, both transfix and repulse.
Pretentious, preposterous, but, if the stomach can take it, high class pulp with lots of verve and energy. A kind of Polanski's The Tenant meets the body horror of Cronenberg, which, in my book, is a marriage in heaven. Heady, wonderful stuff.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely horrifying and mesmerizing, with a consistent emotional...
This is a masterpiece of mystery and horror. Something has happened to these people's lives, something so horrible that it has changed their reality in a way that confuses them... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Robert J. Crawford
1.0 out of 5 stars A Mess of a Movie
I just finished watching this movie, and it was so awful that I had to fast forward through some of it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lisa K. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing film...
"Possession"(1981) is directed by Andrzej Zulawski. This film, which defies typical categorization, blends domestic drama, horror, political intrigue, and sci-fi, into a story that... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Edmonson
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad reproduction
The rip of the video on this edition is pretty bad. The audio and video frequently go out of sync. It's borderline unwatchable. The movie itself is fantastic, though. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jason Eckelman
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling Flick Should be Avoided If You Are Pregnant
Possession was a video nasty. Sam Neill does a great job in this film. Possession is not exactly linear but it is a fascinating and disturbing journey into one woman's mind. Read more
Published 12 months ago by MacheteJason
5.0 out of 5 stars Possession is killer.
Andrzej Zulawski's Possession, is arguably a daring masterpiece, a modern horror-drama that has rarely been imitated and revered as an intimidating, gut-wrenching; at a few moments... Read more
Published 19 months ago by DeadandBuried81
5.0 out of 5 stars Insane
Well worth the money to see this demented yell-a-thon of a movie. Isabelle Adjani is gorgeous and Sam Neil's performance is perfect.
Published 20 months ago by Ricardo L Rodriguez
Published 20 months ago by Leopoldo
2.0 out of 5 stars Stay away, really, just dont....
I don't really know what to say about this movie other than it's not the worst movie I've ever seen, but it comes close. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Roger in PA
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of surrealism!
Possession is an example of how a horror film can be masterfully crafted and executed in a truly artistic sense. Read more
Published on July 17, 2012 by Walter
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