Possession (1981) BluRay Review


Possession (1981)

Dir. Andrzej Zulawski

Starring – Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Margit Carstensen, Heinz Bennent.

UK Release 29th July 2013 – Second Sight Films

Well where do you start with Possession? OK a brief synopsis and then lets look at the madness from the mind of Andrej Zulawski.

Mark (Sam Neill) returns home from his confidential government job to his wife and son. His wife Anna (Isabelle Adjani) is acting very strangely and ultimately tells Mark that their marriage is over. Devastated and emotional Mark finds out that Anna has a paramour in the shape of a far-out hippy love guru named Heinrich (Heinz Bennent). Mark and Anna become increasingly violent and aggressive towards each other often in plain view of their son Bob who spends a lot of his spare time scuba diving in the bathtub.

Mark then starts an affair with Bob’s teacher Helen (also played by Adjani). Mark is drawn to her as she is identical to Anna looks wise but is the opposite in personality . We see Anna often in black or dark colours, very dour and solemn, yet Helen is in white and is happy, engaging and very good around Bob.

Mark contacts Heinrich and discovers they haven’t seen each other in a while, but with Anna being very secretive and aloof then Mark hires a private detective to follow her and find out where she is living.

So sounds like your typical cold war love tryst story , but hang on this is directed by Andrzej Zulawski so lets have a closer look.


Possession is a very hard film to watch , there is extreme violence and huge emotional breakdowns. Both Mark and Anna suffer psychological and physical abuse, you watch them descend into madness yet the whole things plays along like a documentary at times. It is horrible to watch yet brutally beautiful.

Possession shows the final throes of a marriage in the most stripped back and raw way possible. And this is also based on director Andrzej Zulawski’s marriage and subsequent divorce and also his relationship with his other love, his country of birth Poland.

Isabelle Adjani’s performance is simply stunning. She won the best actress award at The Cannes Film Festival for this and yet Possession was put on the now infamous Video Nasty list in 1983. Adjani is hypnotic and mesmeric as Anna and the scene in the underground pass with the shopping is a scene that will test the most hardened extreme film viewer.

Sam Neill’s performance is purposely over the top. He is jittery, wide-eyed and paranoid. But I have and still don’t like him in this film and I still haven’t worked out why? I just don’t like his performance or is it I just don’t like Sam Neill?

The cinematography is stunning and being set in a pre-unified Berlin the wall is in constant view in the exterior shots and becomes almost a main character. Everything in Possession is there for a reason, and every time I watch it I see and gain something new from it.

This is a must see , it is beautiful yet brutal and disturbing yet dreamlike. But films like this just don’t get made very often, it is a true piece of cinematic joy that puts raw human emotions on show and allows the viewer to be a part of a truly unique experience that each will draw something different from .


Now on a beautiful Bluray transfer from the fantastic Second Sight Films this is finally the chance to own a masterpiece and it is absolutely chock full of extras that I will list below.

A genuine horror film that is as hard to watch now as it was when it was released !

Verdict 9/10


The Making of Possession
AUDIO COMMENTARY with co-writer
FREDERIC TUTEN, moderated by Daniel Bird

The film’s UK and US reception, the ‘video nasties’ furore
and the US recut

The Berlin locations

An exclusive interview with composer Andrzej Korzynski about his working relationship with Andrzej Zulawski

An exclusive interview with legendary producer Christian Ferry

A new featurette on Polish artist Barbara ‘Basha’ Baranowska, who created the famed poster for Possession.



Second Sight Films are releasing superb genre films in beautiful Bluray that are just full of extras that will keep the most ardent fan happy for a long time. Please check out their site HERE and view their catalogue whilst trying not to drool on your keyboard. One of THE best UK distribution companies for almost 20 years now and going from strength to strength.  

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About Andy Deen

A horror fan for as far back as I can remember . The first things that scared me were Doctor Who and the BBC ghost stories . As an early teen the video revolution came along and with it the Video Nasty campaign , and through all that I immersed myself in all things nasty. I love Slashers, Haunted House Stories and Devil Worshipping/Panic Films . I watch too much horror , listen to loud Heavy Metal and enjoy the odd tattoo \m/\m/

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