Possession Blu-ray Review
Written by Sharon Davies
Blu-ray released by Second Sight UK.
Directed and Written by Andrzej Zulawski (with adaptation by Frederic Tuten.)
1981, 127 Mins, Region B, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 29th July 2013.
Isabelle Adjani as Anna / Helen
Sam Neill as Mark
Heinz Bennett as Heinrich
Shaun Lawton as Zimmerman
Anna is a bored housewife; she sits at home and looks after her son Bob while her husband works away. She yearns for more. For action, for adventure and passion. Anna wants to end her relationship with her husband Mark.
Mark is a loving husband; he works away often in order to support his wife and son. He knows that his wife's personality has changed and she doesn't seem to be herself. Mark does not want his relationship with Anna to come to an end.
The movie opens with this struggling couple living in Cold War Berlin before the wall came down. They are surrounded by misery and madness and this echoes in their relationship. Upon returning home Anna asks her husband for a divorce. Shocked and devastated at her request, husband and wife begin a series of arguments each becoming more dramatic and raw as time goes on.
What is clear is that Anna is ascending into insanity the more that he tries to salvage their relationship or at the very least explain her reasons for their disintegration. Madness then spills into both parties, as Mark cannot stop obsessing over his wife. Hiring a detective to spy on where she is going and whom she is seeing, he is determined to track down the truth.
But all is not all it seems. This is not simply a question of a marital affair.
What is happening to Anna? She is not interested in her husband or son and seems to be willing to do just about anything to make him leave her alone. What is she hiding? Anna's secret is truly one of the most shocking and disturbingly cinematic moments in movie history and will leave the most hardened horror fans with a taste of something stunningly dark and delicious.
There are certain films that stick with you. You remember watching something truly different and even years later you find yourself wondering whether you actually watched a film or if it was a nightmare borne of your twisted mind.
This was one of those films for me. I remember having begged the video shop lady to rent this to me. Its intriguing front cover, being a woman in the throws of passion surrounded by tentacles, was too daring a statement to resist, however after actually watching it I simply couldn't recommend it to others. It seemed just that little bit too warped and even made me wonder what had just happened.
There are many parts to this film which left me astonished; the acting, although at times slightly Eighties camp, is often stunning. Isabelle Adjani is truly disturbing as the wife and her descent into madness took me right down with her. Rumours of this film tell that the actress was near to suicide after making it and claimed she would never do such a role again, and her outstanding performance was recognised as she won the Best Actress Award in the Cannes film festival in 1981. The way that she escalates her madness shows the audience that there is something she isn't saying and prepares us for any conclusion possible.
The location was chosen very carefully to hint at a political message, but also to echo the darkness and insular feeling throughout. In fact at times it plays as big a part as the characters itself.
The special effects when they happen are jaw dropping, one particular scene in a train station really did put me off jam and custard for life. The creature special features were created by Carlo Rambaldi of E.T and Alien fame. His genius in this department creates a touch of class and eerie realism to the piece. The most famous scene of all (which I shall leave you to experience yourselves) does make me pause it EVERY time to figure out quite how it's done.
In summary this film has everything I would ask for of a quality horror film, it is truly individual, horrifying and stimulating all in one box. I know have been sketchy with the synopsis above but all I can say to motivate you to watch it is to say that I would put this not only in horror cult status, but up there in my top 10 favourite horrors.
You can understand my joy when I found out Second Sight was releasing this on Blu-ray with a TON of cool special features – I would actually be able to watch it again myself and force others (including you) too! Hurrah!
Video and Audio:
Having seen the original and remembered it as having an almost bleached-out film effect it has really been restored well. Its distinctly un-Hollywood feel gives you the sense that this is real life. A true window into a decaying marriage and its end. There are times when the film is very dark and I do recall the monster scenes being difficult to make out and yet this restoration leaves little to the most strained of eyes.
With Possession being created in 1981 you can understand that the music would be some electro inspired piece, but even with this in mind the composer has attempted to create a score which is individual to this film. It isn't over used and in fact the unnerving silences in between the background music cleverly jammed into the most horrifying of scenes add to the sticky realism.
Excellent special features here and real treats all round:
- Directors Commentary: dialogue throughout by Andrzej Zulawski and interviewer Daniel Bird:
- Co-Writers Commentary: Frederic Tuten is interviewed again by Daniel Bird.
- The Other Side of the Wall: Documentary with interviews and stories told by the director and other members of cast. This includes casting, adaptation, creating the monster and overall reception. (51 mins in length.)
- Andrzej Zulawski Interview: Here Zulawski explains his reasons behind making the film and his summary of the process. (35 mins in length. )
- Repossessed: The re-editing of Possession and the difference between the UK and US versions.
- A divided City: the locations of Possessions showing the reasons behind the Berlin setting.
- The Sounds of Possession: Interview with Andrzej Korzynski discussing the scoring of the film and his partnership with the director. (19 mins in length.)
- Our Friend in the West: Interview with producer Christian Ferry where he discusses where cinema was in 1981 and his involvement in the project. (6 mins in length.)
- BASHA: A documentary on the artist who created the iconic poster and many other Polish poster art back in the 80s. (6 mins in length. )
- Theatrical Trailer. Well-cut trailer which slices the film in with flashes of the madness.