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Possession (1981)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director Andrzej Zulawski and biographer Dan Bird Rating:8.0/10 (3 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr on September 27th, 2008:Find all reviews by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr
Considering what an intense and passionate film POSSESSION is (like all of Zulawski's work) you might expect the man who made it to be equally intense, but instead he proves to be a mild, softly spoken interviewee who gives considered responses to each question. This is even more surprising given that he openly states "POSSESSION is the story of my life", with most of the characters, ane even several dialogue exchanges, drawn directly from reality.
Canny questioning from biographer Bird coaxes out the deeper meaning behind the film's themes and motifs, as well as Zulawski's philosophy of film-making - "I try to make films about morals but without morality".
We also get to hear about star Isabelle Adjani's diva behaviour, Sam Neill's studious approach to his role, the reason this became his first (and so far only) film to be shot in English, and his dismay at Carlo Rambaldi's initial "pink condoms" monster which lead to them improvising on the day of shooting ("a crime") but which ultimately, he feels, worked to the film's advantage (although he remains angry that the effect with Sam Neill's eyes at the end didn't work as planned). And there's even some amusement generated by tales of over-zealous (and over-imbibed!) Yugoslav stunt-men.
Zulawski also reveals there were to be scenes featuring Anna's first husband that were abandoned during filming (and why), plus an alternative/extended ending that proved too expensive to shoot.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is Zulawski's dismissive attitude to the way this intensely personal film was butchered for its USA release.
Things do get a little fuzzy at times, lost somewhere between Zulawski's intellectualising and his less than perfect grasp of English, but generally this is a lucid and illuminating track that adds much to the viewers understanding of the film and the man who made it, and leaving you wishing his other, non-English, films weren't so difficult to see...