Andrzej Zulawski retro at BAM (Mar 07-20)

by on March 7, 2012Posted in: Essay

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Thursday Editor’s Pick: Possession (1981)

by on December 5, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing thru Tue Dec 13 at 2:00, 4:30, 7:00, 9:30 at Film Forum [Program & Tix]

Best film still ever?


Film Forum makes a refreshingly off-the-wall long-run choice with a new print of the uncut (originally released in the States in a shameful 86-minute hack job), uncensored version of Andrzej Zulawski’s crazed masterpiece. Definitely don’t miss!


J. Hoberman
for the Village Voice:

The phrase “over the top” doesn’t begin to characterize Polish director Andrzej Zulawski’s 1981 Possession. Made with an international cast in still-divided Berlin, the movie starts as an unusually violent breakup film, takes an extremely yucky turn toward Repulsion-style psychological breakdown, escalates into the avant-garde splatterific body horror of the ’70s (Eraserhead or The Brood), and ends in the realm of pulp metaphysics as in I Married a Monster From Outer Space. Possession is not a movie you can easily scrape off the bottom of your shoe, particularly in the complete two-hour version that is having its belated local premiere this week.


Zulawski seems to have subjected his actors to the sort of intense physical and psychological regimen associated with theatrical guru Jerzy Grotowski. Isabelle Adjani, crowned best actress at Cannes, gives the performance of a lifetime—a veritable aria of hysteria… Not without a political subtext (made by a Polish exile during the year of martial law), Possession is at once a dread-inducing ordeal, a bloody arabesque, and a swooning celebration of Adjani’s long, cloaked form in perpetual motion. The convulsive action reaches its peak, if not its dramatic climax, in the near-real-time scene in which, famously directed to “fuck the air,” contortionist Adjani bounces off the walls of an underground passage, hemorrhaging bloody goo from every orifice. A movie that has to be seen to be believed, Possession is like Rambaldi’s creature: It isn’t necessarily good, but it is most definitely something.

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