At the Alamo Drafthouse, we film programmers reserve an unequivocally special place in our hearts for Andrzej Zulawski's POSSESSION (1981). A masterful gesture of modern horror filmmaking by the genius Polish director, it is by all accounts one of our very favorite and most memorable viewing experiences. It seems that everyone who has seen this landmark cult gem has a story about how and in what ways the film affected them. We are no different. Though we respectively saw the film in various places and in dissimilar contexts, we all universally registered the same reaction: it left our mouths hanging agape and we felt changed thereafter. POSSESSION is a film that shakes you to your core whether you are ready or not, a film so emotionally raw and indescribably resonant that after seeing it for the first time, passionate filmgoers all over the world find themselves articulating their personal viewing habits in terms of pre- and post- POSSESSION. Be duly forewarned: this film will destroy you -- and you will love every second of it.
In eager anticipation of our upcoming screenings of a brand new 35mm print, starting this Sunday (08/05 - 7:00pm) at The Ritz, we programmers each wanted to present our thoughts on the film. In articulating our love of POSSESSION, we hope that those of you who have not yet seen the film will embrace this rare opportunity and those who have been initiated might similarly share your thoughts in the comment section.
Lars: POSSESSION is a mind-blowing volcano of visual and aural creativity. I compare it to HAUSU (which we're showing in Sept.), not because there are any thematic similarities, but because both seem to come from their own cosmos. I've never been affected by a film in the way that POSSESSION affects me. It's thrilling and horrifying and funny and gross and uplifting all at once. Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani are at their career bests and the pure constructive/destructive energy of Adjani's stunning freakout in the subway tunnel will live in your bones for the rest of your life. This is one of my top 5 favorite movies and it's one of those windows into a plausible future of filmmaking. It moved the art of filmmaking ahead by 1,000 years.
Zack: Whether or not you're emotionally, physically and/or mentally capable of withstanding it, POSSESSION leaves indelible scars on your psyche. Sixteen years after my most recent viewing, I'm still haunted by several specific images. Most notably, Isabelle Adjani's near-thermonuclear meltdown in the subway station. For some reason, this scene was almost impossible for me to watch and will of course be infinitely more squirm-inducing in a new 35mm print. But there are countless visual attacks and general themes that masterfully induce discomfort, and I really believe there's something in this movie to rattle every human being on this planet, regardless of their fortitude. POSSESSION is a complete wrecking ball.
Sam: As long as my brain tubes have been sending signals throughout my body, POSSESSION has been for me a distant cinematic Holy Grail -- the unattainable object of my cinephilic desire. When I finally witnessed the film earlier this year in all its mind-meltingly crisp, 35mm glory, I instantly knew the decades-long wait had been worth every precious second. POSSESSION's sheer destructive power as an unrestrained, ugly, emotional tour de force remains unrivaled even thirty years after its release. Every scene hits the highest imaginable peaks and the lowest conceivable valleys of unbridled passion and romantic love. Oscillating back and forth like a rabid, neutered hellcat, POSSESSION simultaneously reminds the viewer why the love between two beings is at once the most beautiful thing that exists and yet also a hideous monster of man's willful creation. It's unlike any film you have ever seen or will ever see from now until the endtimes.