Possession

This week we tackle another request - this time from loyal listener, Chase, who saddled us with an intense and tricky "art house" horror film from legendary Polish director, Andrzej Żuławski, starring a young Sam Neill.

This is the story of divorce amidst a failing relationship, told with style and high-intensity and a very obtuse plotline. We often didn't know what to make of the goings-on, but we couldn't deny that this film unsettled us both, and that's a good thing. Have a listen.

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Possession (1981)

Episode 217, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd.

Craig: And I’m Craig.

Todd: We are continuing to plow through our request list. Today’s request comes from Chase. Thank you so much, Chase, for submitting this on Facebook and you requested us to do 1981’s Possession, a very interesting choice of film. Probably one that most of our listeners had not heard of before.

Uh, this was, um, written and directed by, and I’ll butcher this name, uh, but it’s a Polish name on Andre, Andre , uh, Zula Husky, probably, uh, a good serious cinema file. This is probably a name they would know. Uh, he’s a. Pretty famous director of art house films that died about four years ago or so. Uh, but he has a number of films that he is released that, um, have one reason or another been lauded on the circuit, uh, particularly in Europe.

Uh, they’ve done quite well in Europe, not so big in the U S. But he’s more of an art house film director. So I think a lot of his movies more appeal to the European crowd, uh, than the U S crowd, which is more used to the straightforward Hollywood movies. I feel like when we do these kinds of films, if you’re an American listening to us, you probably are.

You probably have never heard of these movies, maybe if you’re overseas and you’ve listened to us, you have a wider breadth of film knowledge. Maybe you have more of a global sense of, of movies and maybe your tolerance for movies that defy the typical Hollywood formula is a little bit higher. And, uh, this movie would definitely fall into this vein.

I thought it was funny that this was requested and I believe that when he requested this. Chase had said, I know it’s off the beaten path of the type of horror y’all review, but, um, his birthday was last March, so we gotta give him something. Right. So this is what we did possession. It just so turns out that this is a movie that I’ve actually been interested in watching for quite a while when Craig and I.

When I went off to China several years ago, I made a list of movies and I downloaded a bunch of movies that Craig and I should watch, and this happened to be on it. So it actually has been on our list from my perspective, but I’m not sure that Craig has ever heard of this movie before. Am I wrong?

Craig: Uh, I don’t think I had, I mean, he, you know, the title possession, that’s pretty generic, so I don’t know if I had ever heard of it or not, but I definitely was unfamiliar with, uh, you know, what it was all about.

So it was completely new to me. I knew nothing about it going in

Todd: at all. Gotcha.

Craig: Except for the Sam Neil is in it. And I like him. So. I was excited about that.

Todd: Yeah. This is a pretty young Sam Neil in this movie. It’s pretty fun to watch that Sam Neil, you guys probably remember from Jurassic park and about a thousand other movies.

If you’re into horror In the Mouth of Madness was a big one. I believe that’s a John Carpenter movie that he starred in and also Event Horizon, which got to do someday because that movie is freaky as hell. And Sam Neil was in that. He is an Irish born actor who is more or less. Raised in New Zealand, and this is one of his earliest films that might be the fifth or sixth film that he ever did.

And it kind of shows, I don’t know. I feel like his acting in this movie is. Not so great. It’s a little over the top. It’s almost a little laughable and I think they actually got a lot of critical, well, this movie divided critics considerably when it came out, it was a huge hit in France. So the director is Polish.

It was filmed in West Germany. It was released worldwide. It did extremely well in France, but it was filmed in English because the producer of the film. I believe that, uh, she could sell it pretty well worldwide. If it was shot in English, unfortunately it was so good in France, but the French version was completely dubs.

I watched a commentary from the director and he mentioned that it was a bit of a shame that they didn’t shoot it in French just because it did so well there, the French people had to deal with a dubbed version that didn’t have quite the same impact. In any case, this movie is going to be interesting to talk about because there’s a ton to unpack here, but you know that Craig and I are separated by distance right now.

So we don’t sit in the same room and we watch movies. So Craig sent me a text about an hour before I watched this film that said what the. Fuck.

Craig: Yeah. Gosh, I just had no idea what I was getting into. And it’s interesting that you say that his acting is maybe a little bit amateurish and really over the top. I don’t know, the movie is so bizarre that I felt like all of that was intentional. It could be as kind of crazy and frenetic and over the top as he plays it, his performance.

Pales in comparison to the oddity of his co-stars performance.

Todd: Uh,

Craig: Isabelle, uh, Johnny is a French actress who the director of this movie had seen, I think in a play. I only watched the first part of the commentary. It was late and I couldn’t get all the way through it, but I, I, he had seen her, I think, in a play when she.

Was really young, like 15 when this movie, when, when it landed in his lap or when he wrote it or whatever, he had her specifically in mind. And he went to her to ask her to play this role. And at first she was hesitant because she felt like she was too young. She’s supposed to be, um, a mother. Uh, and I guess he reminded her that she was in fact a mother.

So she wasn’t too young to play a mother. So she did it and she is just. Batshit crazy throughout this whole movie. And, and there are so many odd levels that she plays. I mean, you have to appreciate it at the very least, and it was appreciated. She won best actress at Cannes for. This and another role that she played.

I just, honestly, I don’t know what to make of this movie. It’s it’s weird. I feel like maybe it went over my head. I, I don’t know. It’s insane. I don’t even know how to talk about it.

Todd: There are a lot of levels to this movie, right? There’s it’s just layered with symbolism. And like you said, it doesn’t follow a cohesive.

It does actually follow a bit of a plot and a bit of a narrative, but it, it seems to jump in time. Maybe at least once. And like you said, it’s quite over the top. I completely agree with you by the way about Sam Neal’s performance, I will always, and people listen to this podcast, I think have heard me say this before.

I’ll always give an actor a bit of a pass on their performance because they’re really in the hands of their director. Right? The director has the vision. They tells them, they tell them how to perform in a professional’s just going to say, you know, the director says, I want you over the top. You’re going to be like this, this whatever.

And a professional actor is just going to trust that the director has a vision in mind and they’re going to do their best to match the vision of the director. So I’m not saying that Sam Neil is a poor actor in this movie. But like you say, it may be very intentional that the director intended his performance to be like a heightened reality, right?

Just like over the top as is so much of this film, all of it

Craig: all physically you’re right. It’s really, really weird. And to the point that now I just want to say upfront that I’m really glad. That chase, uh, recommended this. Cause I don’t think that I would have seen it otherwise, but it really kind of disturbed me.

Like I was thinking about it all the rest of the day and into the night. And, uh, I don’t know, like it’s still, it’s really, really unsettling and I didn’t know what was going on. Like, like you said, there is a narrative and the director writer, director. Was inspired to write this movie when going through his own messy divorce and everything that I’ve read about.

It says that that’s really what it’s about. It’s about the dynamics of a relationship and turmoil and falling apart. And you definitely can see that, but it’s so. Heightened reality. It’s it’s, it’s surreal. It’s it’s dreamlike. It just seems like you’re like four steps outside of. Reality.

Todd: Yeah. These

Craig: things couldn’t pot, nobody acts this way.

Alright. So when this guy

Todd: and yet Craig, just a moment as a guy who’s been married for 20 years, I have to say there were points of this movie that. We’re uncomfortably close to home that you and I know you’ve been, uh, you know, together with your partner for quite a while, too, but there were moments in this movie where I was like, yeah, I’m sure a lot of people younger than I would see this particular scene or whatever, as a sort of crazy heightened, like super lucrative, however, I’m.

Pretty sure. My wife and I have had arguments like this before. Maybe admitting too much, but no, you haven’t,

Craig: you’re a liar. That’s not true. He’s fine. His wife is a lovely woman and she, he is no, you’re just straight up lying because, okay, so

Todd: this, this guy,

Craig: I just don’t believe it. So I don’t even really understand what’s going on.

So the opening scene is when he’s like. Uh, Sam Neil’s name is Mark main character. He’s driving through Berlin. Um, and of course, you know, this is before the wall came down, the wall is still up. We see that there, the apartment that he and his wife live in is actually right near the wall. So it’s a constant visual, which I think is also, you know, symbolic of a nation divided all this stuff, but he, and he gets home and we find out immediately.

His wife basically greets him in the courtyard of their apartment.

Todd: You cannot just say you don’t know that’s what you said on the phone. When will, you know? I don’t know. Do you want me to spend the night somewhere else in a hotel or something? Do you want us to meet later on? We can talk more calm. I do.

Do you need more time? What, what do you need? What is, I’ve noticed that you were coming back today.

Craig: So there’s clearly something going on. He has been gone for a period of time doing, I don’t know what,

Todd: that’s the big mystery,

Craig: there’s this establishing scene where he’s sitting in, like, it’s set up kind of like a conference room, like in the corner of this huge, like warehouse building and he’s sitting in front of a panel of men.

And it seems like he’s reporting something to them. Like some findings, like he was an investigator or something or a spy. Yeah. I don’t it’s it’s all, it’s all very ambiguous. You don’t know, but right away. I knew that I was in for a ride, because the way that this scene was shot was so odd, like it was in this huge cavernous room and the camera just sweeps around and around and around like, I don’t even know who they do that tracks it on wheels.

Like,

Todd: yeah. But it seems like in this scene, because the shot was so wide, they were doing some kind of steady cam thing and it showed a bit because it wasn’t the smoothest of, um, you know, sweeps around. But yeah, there’s a lot in this of that cinematography in this movie. Right. There’s a lot of the sweeping around people and stuff in this particular scene.

Probably not on tracks, but yeah, in most other scenes, definitely on tracks. Yeah.

Craig: And it’s disorienting because you, it messes with your perception. And for me, I kept thinking, how am I not seeing, because it does three 60 so much. How am I not seeing crew? How am I not seeing equipment? How am I not seeing reflections?

There’s one scene in a restaurant where they’re sitting. The two main characters are sitting in front of mirrors at a 90 degree angle. And you never see the reflection of the camera or the camera, man. You barely even see the reflection of the act themselves. It was. Yeah, I know it was so weird. Okay. Like I couldn’t figure it out.

Todd: That scene was fantastic. That scene was great. Like this couple, like you said, they, they meet up with each other. They have this awkward conversation on the corner. She storms away. He grabs all of his bags and walks after her. Her name is. Yeah, Anna. Right. And they have a son and they go in there and then, like you said, um, they’re, they’re laying in bed.

There’s this scene of the two of them sitting next to each other, laying next to each other. And she says, were you faithful to me? And. His response is sort of like, Hmm, not really.

Craig: And pretty much, no, it’s like pretty much like, something like that where you unfaithful not really, like, what does that even mean?

Todd: Okay. But anyhow, of course. And he asks the same thing of her and she’s basically like, no, you know? And so they have this very antagonistic type of relationship. Like, like they, when they left, they were in the middle of a fight. And when they come back, it’s like, they’re picking it back up again,

Craig: kind of.

But at the same time, there’s still intimacy between them. Like, you know, they’re very comfortable together nude and laying in bed. And like, I couldn’t tell if it was implied that they had made love or they hadn’t, like, I thought that they hadn’t, because at some point he says something like, I’m not, I don’t even want to touch you or something.

I don’t know. Like it’s just there laying there very intimately knew together in bed, touching, you know, side by side. But then there’s this coldness between them too. And then he wakes up in the middle of the night and she’s gone. She calls him, I think the next day and says the truth of the matter is I have taken a lover and I want to leave you.

And he is not willing to accept that. And he says, I meet me somewhere. And she says that she will. And so they meet at this restaurant and that’s where that weird scene happened.

Todd: But not before he goes through all of her stuff. Right. He’s looking through her stuff. He looks through her bookshelf. He sees all these weird, like psychological type books on there that almost look like they’re labeled.

Yeah. Like they came from a library or something and, uh, he finds ’em. A postcard that, you know, when he flips it around, we see, uh, it’s addressed to her. And it’s very kind of loving thing from somebody named Heinrich later on, his son mentioned something about getting this toy boat from an uncle Heinrich.

So he pretty quickly zeroes in on who it, you know, the name of this guy. And like you said, they meet at this restaurant and this restaurant scene is so good. It’s like a weird booth situation where it’s at a corner. So he’s sitting at a table, uh, in kind of a booth thing and there’s a mirror behind him and then there’s a corner and she comes in instead of sitting opposite him, like normal people would do.

She sits down next to him, but that’s around the corner.

Craig: So she’s right, like catty

Todd: corner, catty corner. And she’s sitting at another table and there’s a mirror behind her. And I have to tell you, I don’t know if you had the same feeling, but the whole time I’m watching this scene, which as you said, sweeps from her to him, I cannot help, but be distracted by the fact that you cannot see their reflections.

In the mirror.

Craig: I know. I couldn’t figure it out. Yes, totally. I couldn’t figure it out. And I thought, because it was so odd, I thought, Oh my gosh, there’s something weird here. Like, I didn’t think they were vampires, but I’m like, is this supposed to be like, you know, there’s soulless or they’re not really there.

And I still have no idea. Now at one point he kind of leans forward and his. Reflection does come into the frame of the mirror just a little bit

Todd: briefly, almost like a mistake.

Craig: Yeah. It’s so strange. And basically they fight and she says that, you know, she’s going to stay with this other guy Heinrich and he says fine, but I don’t want anything to do with you.

And I don’t want anything to do with Bob. Which I thought was a Dick move, but yeah.

Todd: Okay. And

Craig: so then I don’t even remember how it escalates. It starts out relatively calm. Like he’s pretty agitated, but she’s pretty calm. And then it escalates and he goes, Crazy. Yeah.

Todd: He, he, there’s a passage of time. He’s in whatever apartment or whatever he staying in and you see that he’s grown a beard and he’s like sweaty.

He looks like a guy going through drug withdrawal.

Craig: Yeah. But even before that, But still in the restaurant, he freaks

Todd: out

Craig: like starts throwing chairs

Todd: and

Craig: he’s chasing her through the restaurant. Like he’s trying to get her like to hurt her. And he’s throwing chairs and like the whole kitchen staff has to come out and tackle him.

It’s tackled.

Todd: Four chefs wearing these tall French, you know, chef hats. It’s, it’s actually kind of comical actually by the time he gets to her. But you’re just so taken by the violence of this situation. And like you said, it’s like at any moment when these two characters interact, there’s the potential.

And I’d say about 80% of the time it happens. Where it just unreasonably escalates into extreme violence, right. Between them. They’re throwing stuff around. They’re like running around the room and they’re never looking at each other when they talk to each other. It’s just a marriage completely broken.

And two people

Craig: completely

Todd: fail to communicate with each other and everything is just at a level 11. Yeah. It’s very unsettling.

Craig: It that’s it. Exactly. And that’s why, like you said, like he goes on a binge, I guess, a drinking binge or a drug vendor or something and yeah. It’s like you see him. Like he’s in a seedy motel.

It’s like, he’s going through withdrawals. And then after some time passes, he goes back home. And when he gets home, he finds his son there alone. I don’t know how long the son is supposed to have been there, but like the, the apartment’s a mess. The kid is disheveled and like dirty and covered in food.

Todd: I think the implication is three weeks.

Cause he says something to some maid who pops in the room and she, he says, how long have I been this way? And she says about three weeks. And when he goes back to his son, it’s like, it can’t be that long though. Yeah, I’m sorry, I’ll take that back.

Craig: He’s a little kid. Yeah. I mean, he’s, he’s maybe like six,

Todd: I don’t know.

Craig: And so then she comes back and again, there are these confrontations and this is the first like 45 minutes of the movie is really mostly just about their marital strife. But what bothered me so much about it is exactly what you said. It’s very incredibly violent and I’m just not. Accustomed to that.

Like, it’s, it’s such a bizarre chemistry because as much animosity and violence as there is, he’s constantly. Begging her to come back

Todd: begging

Craig: he is. And at some point he says, you know, I know you’ve got this other guy. You can keep seeing him. I don’t care. Tell him you love him. I don’t care. And it goes back and forth.

Sometimes he says, you have to leave him. Sometimes he says, I don’t want, I don’t care what you do so long as you come home to me sometimes, but they get in these viciously violent fights. And there’s one in particular where he really, I think she hits him first, I think. But then he hits her. Multiple times, and it’s just so troubling to watch.

And meanwhile, this whole time she goes, she vacillates between like fragile and seeming, like, she doesn’t really know what she wants to almost just like completely. Out of it, like completely spaced out. Like her eyes are out of focus and she’s not looking at him and it’s like, she’s staring off into the distance.

Like she’s insane. Part of the reason that it was so surreal to me, one of the things was that nobody seemed to acknowledge the fact that she was. Fucking crazy. Why isn’t anybody taking a second to acknowledge that she is crazy? I didn’t get it. It was so weird.

Todd: It is weird. It is weird. And she’s got this other guy named Heinrich, who is this German guy?

And he’s weird too. You know, I told you, he finds the postcard. Mark finds this postcard. That’s this address to high-mix. So he has a name and they also have apparently sort of a mutual friend Marge. And she, I mean, the, the characters of this film are really these two margin Heinrich. There really are no other characters in the movie.

There are a few people come and go, but that’s about it. So he calls Marge and he’s looking for information about her. Uh, I’m sorry about Heinrich. And at one point, Heinrich just calls him and there is with me and she’ll stay with me. So he gets Heinrich’s address and he goes to Heinrich’s house. And Heinrich is this like foofy kind of guru new AIG guy who right away, you can tell he’s a total douche bag.

And he gets really handsy with him.

Craig: Oh my God.

Todd: I’m

Craig: sorry. You’re just going to have to, you’re going to have to like, Be this like crazy, because I thought they were going to,

Todd: like,

Craig: it was so weird and it’s not just them. There are several scenes between men who barely know each other at all, and they are right up in each other’s faces, touching each other, caressing each other.

One of the, one of the guys, when this happens, the guy actually does turn out to be gay. And I was like, Oh, well, Good, I guess, because I was so confused, I really thought Heinrich was trying to seduce Mark in that scene and it’s filmed like a dance. It’s another one of those. Scenes where the camera is spinning around and around and around them.

And not only is this, the camera’s spinning around them, but they are spinning around each other in the opposite direction. So it looks like a choreographed dance

Todd: that they’re like a waltz.

Craig: Yes. It’s bizarre. And then Heinrich ends up instead of having sex with

Todd: him,

Craig: he ends up beating the shit out of him.

Todd: Yeah. They, they both take turns at each other and they get, I listened to a, an audio commentary by the director about this movie and the guy who there was like a facilitator and the facilitator was like, so tell me a little bit about Heinrich. And the director was like, Oh, I hate this guy. He’s a total douche bag.

He’s like the essence of the douchebag, you know, that I basically put in this movie totally out to lunch completely just cares about banging this girl, but then it turns out that these two guys are nothing compared to who this girl’s really sleeping with. There’s actually a third. Person, if you will, which is sort of where her heart lies.

And this is where the movie gets really bizarre. And you’ve got to have a lot of patients for this kind of film, like what we’re talking about here, the heightened reality, all of the craziness, all the weirdness, all of the very blurred lines that are happening everywhere. I think that, you know, this is very European.

This is like the movie again. Is like kind of a poem, the things that these people are doing and the actions that are taking places and the visuals on the screen are really more reflective of the emotional States of the characters than supposed to be representative of a reality. I mean, normally people don’t really act like this in real life.

What we’re seeing on the screen is just sort of a reflection of the emotional States of everybody, which has to have this effect of jarring us into this state of mind ourselves. Right? So it’s just a sort of, um, hi, uh, octane cinema to try to pull us into this story and get us. Into the minds of these characters, getting us feeling what they’re feeling, getting us as frustrated as they are.

And I think it really, really works at this level. You know, I mean, there are moments in this movie where the characters. Is looking at the camera and addressing the camera, you know, I mean, and that’s uncomfortable and it’s unsettling, but it does the job, you know, it gets us, uh, like I felt like Mark at a lot of these points.

I felt a frustration at her. I felt anxious and. You, like you said, it’s just an uncomfortable movie to watch, right?

Craig: Yeah. I like the things that we’ve talked about so far, though, they are kind of crazy are really just kind of

Todd: warming us, you

Craig: know, human drama. Yeah. Human drama kind of stuff. Meanwhile, there’s some other weird shit going on.

Like she, at one point goes and stands underneath a crucifix for an excrutiatingly long time. And just looks up at it and like grunts

Todd: for awhile.

Craig: Okay. That was weird. And then, yeah. Yeah, that’s really just like, I don’t, I have no idea what was going on there. One of the times that they fight she’s like ferociously, like chopping and grinding me.

And then she takes the electric meat, Carver and cuts her own neck with it,

Todd: by the way. Fantastic scene. I mean, this scene was great. This, I mean, this is like the best scene in the movie as far as I’m concerned, because it was very symbolic and poetic. And like you said, over the top and uncomfortable, but it also is in a psychological way kind of reflective of how you can get in these intense arguments with somebody else that just sort of feel like the end of the world.

Like they’re arguing with each other. They’re not looking at each other pretty much the most of the time she’s in the kitchen with this automatic. A cutter thing, you know, these like, um, what do they call those electric knives or whatever

Craig: electric, Carver

Todd: cutting up meat, and then putting it in the meat grinder.

It’s there’s just constant noise of this meat grinder. Plus you’re watching or push meat through a meat grinder. I mean, this symbolism here. You could almost fault it for just being a little too heavy as well. Right? It’s a little pretentious. They’re fighting, they’re arguing and she’s here grinding meat through this thing.

I hate this way. What have I done that you hate me so much?

Just the fact that that noise is always there and they’re arguing and the prettiest and things are getting thrown. And you’re wondering is her hand going to end up in that fricking thing? She tr she cuts herself on the neck to which he, like you said earlier, immediately switches and becomes the doting husband where he runs and gets her, her thing and wraps it around her Sims herself leaves her.

Goes to the kitchen and takes that same Carver and starts carving his own risks. He, he does like a three cuts down his arm and almost barely has a reaction. And she walks in and says it doesn’t no. It’s just this numbness that this couple has reached this like emotional level where they’re just at this point, we’re nothing they’re so emotionally numb because they’re so they’re arguing so much that just nothing phases them anymore.

And it’s this visual representation of that in the film. I thought it was brilliant. It’s extremely art house. You know, it’s definitely not Hollywood style, but there was a part of me again, I know you don’t believe it, but as a guy who’s been married for 20 years and has his fair share of pretty intense fights, you know, with his wife over those years in a weird way, emotionally, I could kind of relate to this.

I don’t know. I’m saying too much.

Craig: Yeah.

Todd: I mean, let’s put it all in context.

Craig: You’re going to let a little time pass and then you’re going to realize you’re going to want to do some editing.

It’s all right. It’s all right. Audience our spouses don’t listen to this podcast. Well, no,

Todd: I wouldn’t say for sure. We’ve reached the depths of despair that this couple has reached, but what I can say is I can understand it.

Craig: I kind of get what you’re saying when you, when you love somebody that much and you get into disagreements, it can get very passionate and it’s.

It’s intense because of the feelings that you have for each other. Right, right. That’s what you’re saying.

Todd: That’s exactly what I’m saying. Thank you. I

Craig: get that. So there’s that weird thing. And that’s weird. And then, so she then just very calmly leaves. Previously, he had hired a private investigator to follow her because neither he nor Heinrich know where she is.

She told Mark that she was living with Heinrich, but she’s not. And Heinrich doesn’t know where she is either. So Mark has hired this PI. This PI sources out, I guess a detective and this detective follows her from Mark’s apartment through the city where she’s acting totally weird. Um, like she goes to the market and then she gets on a train that only has one other passenger on it, like a hobo.

And she sits down right next to him and is completely too oblivious to him to the point where he like, takes a banana out of it. Her bag and eats it right next to her. And I’m like, what is happening?

Todd: What is this

Craig: mean? Like

Todd: don’t understand.

Craig: Okay. So then they, they get off the train. Any follows her into like this old building.

And I guess it’s kind of run down and eventually, like, he kind of puts you foots around, but eventually he knocks on the door and claims to be like a building inspector or something. He says like there’s glass on the ground below. And so they have to find where the windows are broken and she clearly doesn’t want them to come in.

Like she’s trying to keep him out, but he insists. And he’s looking all around. Finally, he gets to the back room, which is the bathroom and he opens the door and there is some sort of bloody oozy demon. Creature and you can’t, it’s dark and you can’t really see it. It just kind of looks like in hell raiser when the guy, you know, is, is coming back, but he’s all bloody and gross.

Kind of like that, except not as human super weird. And so then he’s just standing there like mesmerized by it. And she comes up behind him, hits him in the back of the head with a wine bottle and then stabs him in the neck with the broken shards of

Todd: it.

Craig: So now she’s killing people. She’s got this secret apartment with some kind of weird thing, and I have no idea what it is.

I’m going fast because I’ve been trying to get to this. The next surreal thing to me was Mark takes Bob to school and Bob’s teacher is identical. To Anna, except for she has lighter color hair and these weirdly bright green eyes. And I say identical, because they’re played by the same actress. He notices Mark notices right away.

Todd: What is this a joke? What are you talking about? I’m

Craig: in your work?

Todd: Have you ever seen my wife naturally every day?

Craig: It, they never address it again. The fact that these two women are doppelgangers, that’s just, it

Todd: like. Yeah,

Craig: it’s never discussed again. And it’s so weird.

Todd: It brings a unique balance to the movie that pays off later. Right. I was thinking of eyes wide shut in this regard. Did you ever see eyes wide shut

Craig: a hundred years ago when I came out?

Todd: Yeah. Yeah. The wife and the husband both sort of go through their own separate experiences, but they’re kind of parallel went away. And I was thinking, I was thinking about that as this happened, like a he’s she has her got doppelganger and later on, we find out, you know, he has his doppelganger as well,

Craig: but that’s not until the last five minutes of the

Todd: movie.

Right. Which is also weird

Craig: and it’s not pre and it’s not projected. So no. Well, when it happened, I wasn’t terribly surprised, but I didn’t see it coming necessarily either. So the fact that they just disregard the fact that she is identical to, you know, and Bob apparently doesn’t notice nobody else notices it.

It’s it’s weird.

Todd: It’s true. It’s true.

Craig: Yeah. Well,

Todd: I don’t know. I don’t know, but at this point, like, I don’t know, we’re about halfway through the movie and finally we’ve gotten to this point, like, but at this point you might wonder why, why was this recommended to us as a horror film? And it’s not until you see that bizarre ass creature, all bloodied and weird in her bathroom and then her, you know, stabbed that guy.

In the neck to death with the bottle that you realize, maybe we’re treading into horror territory, and it’s certainly heads more into horror territory as we go on, but we’d be remissed to point out that the guy responsible for the effects of this movie is Carlo rom Baldy, who is an icon in horror effects.

He had his start in Italy. He’s Italian obviously had to start an Italian cinema, a couple of the movies we’ve already reviewed a Bay of blood, a deep red, or one of our Gentiles movies. He did the effects for, but then he moved over to Hollywood and he started working for Spielberg. So he did the affects for close encounters of the third kind, which he had actually just been in the middle of, if not, just off the top of working when he worked, when he did this movie.

And then later on would do ITI. I mean, he was responsible

Craig: for ETS.

Todd: I know. Affects design and, and, you know, went on to do more after that, again, listening to the commentary of the director of this movie, he talked about actually how frustrating it, it wa it was, uh, to work with, uh, Carlo Ron Baldy, because he comes to Italy and he said he had this suitcase full of condoms, pink, condoms, these like, all right, we’re going to put together some creature with these pink condoms.

And, uh, you know, the director looked at it. It was like, okay, well, but you know, we’re shooting tomorrow. And he’s like, what, what do you mean we’re shooting tomorrow? Like, Like he had just come from Hollywood where, you know, you spend like a week or two putting together things and getting the lighting and stuff.

Right. Um, but he’s like, no, no, no, no. So he had to craft a pretty quickly through the night in the hotel room with a few of his assistants, the creature effects for this movie. And I think the creature effects at the end of the day turned out to be kind of a happy accident in the sense that, and the director said this too, in the sense that early on some of these earlier representations of the creature are quite.

It’s just kind of a mess, right? You can’t really see what it is. It’s got these technical things coming off of it, and it’s not quite so sophisticated by the very end of the film. We see a more sophisticated version of this creature, but Holy crap, this woman’s got this weird ass tentacled creature in her apartment that she says.

Craig: And we get to see it later, which is really weird, but she says it too, like because, okay. So the original PI that Mark hired comes to him and is like the detective that I hired is missing. And again, they have a really oddly intimate conversation where they are centimeters from each other’s faces like holding hands and caressing one another’s hands.

And the PI says, Mark gives. The, the detective had called him before he went in and he gave him, he said, I found her, I have the address. So Mark has the address. So he gives the PID the address and the PI is like, Oh, okay, well that, guy’s my lover. Like. Okay, great. Um, so, so the pie goes over there and he walks into the bedroom and this creature thing is like riving in the bed.

Todd: He’s very tired. He made love to me

Craig: and I almost threw

Todd: up. So

Craig: it’s like, because not only is the creature gross, it’s like laying in a pool of what looks like. Blood and pus and come. It’s just

Todd: casting. It’s like, did I just stumble into a Japanese movie? All of a sudden Japanese tentacle porn thing,

Craig: Tokyo Gore police, right.

Todd: It’s true. Oh, it’s effective.

Craig: So weird. And then, so she kills him too.

Todd: Uh,

Craig: and, and then like Helen visits, Mark’s apartment. And just out of nowhere, they just decided to get naked and lay in bed together. And then Bob wakes up in the middle of the night screaming. And so he gets up to go take care of Bob.

And like, while he’s gone, still totally naked, but she has gotten herself. Dressed. And she’s like, I’m sorry, I got to go. And then there’s just like kind of weird tension between them. What is,

Todd: what is,

Craig: I don’t know. I don’t know what’s happening

Todd: for myself. I took it as a, sort of a confused mental state.

He’s got, his wife has kind of. Is out to lunch and he’s lost, but he really wants her, but she’s distant and she’s not there. And he, and then this is a woman that looks like his wife. He brings a Rover. It’s not even clear that they had sex because at one point they say, she says, you don’t have to make love to me.

And he says, I know. And they just

Craig: he’s like, I’m not trying,

Todd: I’m not trying to laugh. Yeah. And they just laugh. And so that’s unclear, but she goes, and then, and then shortly thereafter, he drops the son off at the school and he just kind of like. Purposefully ignores her. He turns his head and walks away too, which she seems a little dismayed as she stares after him.

But it’s like, it’s like, he feels like he made a mistake. And again, that’s why like sort of eyes wide shut was coming back to me. I feel like it’s this emotional landscape that this couple has to go, you know, traverse while they’re going through these problems is other people and there’s this difficulty and there’s this, how do I get my release?

But how do I stay true, true and faithful to my partner. And it’s just kind of a. Big mess, like the movie. Right. And we’re in this mode to watching it. I thought also some political things were kind of sneaking in here too. Right.

Craig: I don’t know.

Todd: Well, they’re like what every now and then Mark is looking out the window and he’s got a watch hanging from the hand on the window for reasons.

I’m not quite sure, but he’s looking out the window and it’s like, The wall there that separates East and West Germany is, is there. It’s like outside their apartment. It’s also outside her apartment. And there are constantly people almost looking with, with glasses right up into their window, like laughing, like they’re under this constant surveillance and they there’s a lot of discussion in this movie about evil, you know, and about how evil, like hype talks about evil.

And she talks about evil. Helen talks about evil when God. And God, I love Helen’s line when she’s in there. So like you said, Mark had invited her in and she cleans up. This is before they lay in bed, but, um, she helps give ’em, uh, give, uh, Bob a bath and puts him to bed. And then she goes into the kitchen, starts cleaning things up and she says, Oh, you really need more help around here.

And then. As she’s cleaning the knife off in this scene, that it’s shot. That looks really sinister. She says I come from a place where even easier to pinpoint, because

Craig: he had

Todd: said to the

Craig: fish. I know, and I was like, where is that place?

Todd: Like? Right. Well,

Craig: who or what are you?

Todd: Yeah, I mean, I literally interpreted it as East Germany, uh, literally in the movie, but again, I think there’s a thematic element to this as well.

Right. Cause then she turns to him and she says, I’m not sure I like your place either. There’s just, it’s a mess. Right. It’s just layer upon layer upon layer of meaning and double entendre that is going to take way more than an hour, you know, if we really wanted to dive in and unpack all these things.

Right.

Craig: So well, and I don’t know that I could, that’s the thing, like, I feel like I could watch this movie several more times and I still would not be sure what was going on or what was intended and like, things don’t escape me. Like it didn’t, I mean, some things do, but it didn’t just escape me that. You know that scene of him laying in bed with Helen was virtually identical to the scene with him laying in bed with Anna from the beginning of the movie, you know, laying side by side, nude in bed, being shot from directly above.

I mean, aside from the fact that her hair and eyes are a different color, it could be two clips from the same scene. Um, so I, I presume there’s something you know, about duality. Like maybe she. Represents the part of Anna that he loved and that he misses and you know, the other Anna, the crazy wild-eyed shrieking freak Anna is, you know, The other side,

Todd: the darker side.

Yeah.

Craig: Well, I don’t know.

Todd: There’s also this fact that, um, this Anna, Anna is a teacher. She’s a pretty simple, seems, very happy teacher of young children. And then Mark comes back and he finds a film reel that was left to him. We find out by Heinrich and it’s a sort of super eight or 16 millimeter movie that Heinrich shot of Anna.

And this is of Anna in a ballet class. And so we find out Anna herself is also a teacher, but she’s a ballet teacher. And in this ballet class, she’s rather intense I to put it mildly as I’ve actually heard ballet can be. And then I was thinking of Suspiria, but anyway, you know, she’s in this ballet class and she’s basically pushing this girl and it’s a constant monologue coming out of her mouth.

Well, she’s like, you got to get your knees up. You’ve got to do whatever and whatever, in the meantime, as she’s doing this, this girl is in pain and she’s more and more uncomfortable. And finally. She just runs out of the class. And then Anna delivers this monologue to the camera, which by this point is us, we’ve switched to the point of view of us, not why not Mark watching the footage, but just like us watching the footage.

And she delivers this extreme long monologue. That’s clearly a stream of consciousness, you know, from her part. And at this point I felt like the film was getting a little pretentious because this stream of consciousness coming from her is all about like, I feel like I’m stuck between two worlds. Well, it’s, it’s like this two sisters of faith and chance my faith could exclude chance, but my chance can kill it.

Can explain faith. My faith didn’t allow me to wait for tests and chance. Didn’t give me enough faith. And then I read that private life is a stage only. I played in many parts of that are smaller than me and. Yet. I still play them. I suffer, I believe I am. But at the same time, I know there’s the third possibility, you know, like cancer or madness cancer or madness control, reality, possibility.

I’m talking about Pierce’s reality and it was useful information, but it was delivered in this way that, you know, come on.

Craig: Well, yeah. Okay. So through that video, but then it was also really odd because. First Mark is watching the video and then with no transition, he’s sitting there talking to her, like, it’s like a continuation of what she was talking about in the video, but now they’re together.

Whereas we had just seen him alone. It unsettled me, but then, okay, so this is the craziest one. Part of the movie, in my opinion, while she’s talking about this, we see her and, and it turns out, I guess this is a flashback, but in the moment I had no idea if this was happening now, I didn’t, I didn’t know what was going on.

She’s walking in a subway station and she acts crazy all the time. So I wasn’t all that. Weirded out that she was just kind of laughing maniacally in the subway station, but it just progresses over the course of several minutes to where she’s flailing around. She has groceries, she flings the groceries up against the wall and it was like eggs and milk.

So it’s all wet. And she’s like, Rolling around it in the ground. And then all of a sudden, she, she, she kneels down on the ground and grabs her crotch and blood and pus and Gore start coming out of every orifice of her body. And. It’s incredibly gross. And she refers to it as a miscarriage. And she said, what I miscarried that day was a sister faith.

And so all that’s left is sister chance, but then she also talks about, so now, because she miscarried the faith, she has to like. Nurture it and care for it. So like, did she birth that creature? Is that think

Todd: so? Yeah. It’s, it’s confusing in the middle of the film. And, uh, again, I listened to the commentary by the director and he said this was another one of these happy accidents because of.

Um, you know, I talked earlier about the special, special effects guy. He had all these like weird condoms and stuff, and he was supposed to actually have a creature ready for this scene, but there was none. So they basically ended up shooting at the way it was without explicitly her birthing some creature.

And so, and then he put it in the movie kind of out of order, right. Uh, in this sort of weird flashback. So he ended up liking the fact that it was a little ambiguous, but. Initially in the movie was a little more continuous in that she would birth the creature and then we would see this creature in the bathtub.

And then, you know, again, by the end of the movie, we would see the result. So, uh, but, but as we watched a movie now, it’s, it’s considerably ambiguous what she’s talking about. But yeah, I think, I think the point is that she had some kind of, she calls it a miscarriage, but she ended up birthing some creature, which then yeah, manifests itself and becomes.

Um, spoiler alert becomes Sam, uh, becomes the doppelganger of, um, Sam nails,

Craig: the green Knight doppelganger, right? Yeah. Um, I wanted to say this scene was so gross and so troubling to watch. Yeah. And thinking about, I say this, and I don’t want to sound pretentious because from an actor’s perspective, like, okay.

Yeah, I do like community theater. It’s not like I have this, I have this great perspective, you know, but from an actor’s perspective, I can’t begin to imagine where you would have to go to put in that kind of performance. Like, yeah, it was insane. And. And I’ve read interviews with her when she said, you know, this is the kind of movie that you can only make when you’re young, because it just requires too much.

Like you just have to give too much. And she said, I couldn’t. Do it again, I could never do something like that again. And I kind of understand that because I remember being a young actor and, you know, really feeling passionate about really giving it your all and really getting into the character. And now that I’m old, I just don’t even know if I could get to those places, uh, anymore.

Um, But it was really intense. And as bizarre as her performance is she’s 100% committed to it. And I completely understand why she got the accolades that she did for her performance.

Todd: Well, she got best, um, best actress for this movie. Yeah. There’s a Caesar award, which is basically the. French Academy awards, and she’s still holds the record for the most number of, uh, she, she got, she got best actress five times once for this movie.

Wow. Yeah. So she’s pretty insanely good. She’s still, by the way, making movies and she still looks stunning. She’s known as a bit of a prima Donna and that, and actually the director complained that she was a bit, even during the filming of this movie, but like you said, she said this film took a lot out of it.

The director took her to some very dark places. And, uh, there’s a bit of a rumor in the director even sort of confirmed at saying that she even maybe tried to commit suicide after doing this film, just because she was such a wreck. It might have also been an attention getting thing. It’s hard to say. I don’t want to diminish that, but, uh, yeah, the point is this movie, clearly you can see it on screen, took her to some dark places, took a lot out of her.

Definitely. She’s at the top of her craft at this point.

Craig: Oh gosh. Okay. So yeah, I mean, I’m trying to hurry along cause we’re, we’re almost to the hour Mark and there’s still stuff that happens. I don’t know how much of it is all that important Heinrich comes to her apartment. She shoots him. But or no stabs them, right?

Yes. He finds the dead bodies and stuff. And so she stabbed him in the abdomen or in the chest, but he is okay. Ish and runs away. And he calls Mark and says, meet me at this bar on the corner or whatever. And so Mark then goes to her apartment first, also finds the dead bodies, uh, turns on the gas and the apartment then goes to meet Heinrich and kills Heinrich in the bathroom.

Now, at this point,

Todd: Yeah. I was not expecting that.

Craig: Well, I wasn’t necessarily expecting it, but from the point that Mark found the dead bodies, I felt like that was a turning point for him. Like he lost it too. And from that point forward, he was crazy. And his only objective was protecting her, um, because he still loves her and he still wants to be with her.

Despite the fact that she’s with this. Creature that he hasn’t seen yet. So he kills Heinrich. He blows up the apartment, her apartment. He tells her to go home. She does, when he comes back, um, he finds that she has cut Wendy’s throat for reasons, unexplained,

Todd: Maggie throne, Marge,

Craig: Margie, or

Todd: whatever.

Craig: And so he helps cover that up.

He tells. Her to go somewhere and he’ll come meet her. And then I feel like he disposes of the body or something. And then when he goes to meet her, he walks into wherever she is. I’m totally confused at this point. I don’t really know where she is. I think she’s at March’s apartment, but I’m not sure, but he walks, he walks in and you can hear.

Obvious sex noises. Yeah. And like, he’s clearly troubled by that, but it’s like he can’t not look. And so he walks into the room where she is getting railed by this disgusting technical squid monster. And it’s pretty freaking graphic. Like it is a sex scene.

Todd: Yeah, no question. This guy did he T like a couple years later, by the way,

Craig: in this thing, this thing is like thrusting into her with this heat, like it’s huge tentacle body. And he just stands there and watches, and like, they like make eye contact and she just keeps saying almost. Almost. And I’m like, Ooh, almost a what.

And so then, okay, so he leaves and he goes to Heinrich’s house because Heinrich’s mom calls him. So

Todd: I feel like the seed could have been cut entirely. I don’t know why.

Craig: Well, they have a whole conversation, like she’s like, Oh yes. Uh, you know, I know you loved her, but Heinrich loved your too. And it’s like this very casual conversation at the end of which she kills herself and he just sits there and holds her hand while she dies.

And then he comes back to where she is. And at first I thought it was the cops that were there, but it’s not it’s whoever he was working for in the beginning and they’re looking for him. And so he hires a well, he doesn’t hire, he forces at gunpoint, a taxi driver to cause a distraction by crashing a car so that I think so that Anna can get away because somebody drives away in his car.

Yeah. And then. There’s a shootout and he shoots a guy, but he also gets shot. And then he takes off on Heinrich’s motorcycle and goes to this place. I don’t know what this place is. Do you

Todd: know? He’s just driving to like the Bay or something. It’s just, I don’t know what, yeah.

Craig: He goes in this building and it’s just this huge staircase, like a, not like, well, not like a tight spiral staircase, but like, you know, the stairs go around and around all the way up and he starts going up there and then she meets him there.

Like he’s dying. Cause he’s been shot and he’s bloody he’s on, he’s like on the landing and then she comes up and he yells at her to go away or to run or something. But when she finally gets up there, she has with her, him his doppelganger.

Todd: Yeah.

Craig: That’s bizarre. And like acting really weird. And has these bright green eyes like Helen had.

She says, like he’s done or he it’s finished or something like that

Todd: kind of thing. Yeah.

Craig: And then, so Mark raises his gun to shoot the doppelganger, but before he can, he and Anna are machine gunned down by his old associates,

Todd: one of which, who. Is the guy he was tailing apparently. Right. Because early in the, in the movie.

Um, when he had that weird meeting and

Craig: pink socks.

Todd: Yeah. And it turns out the guy had the pink socks that bit. I didn’t get either. I was, I thought, what was this supposed to be some twist? But by that point I was so far gone. It seems so inconsequential compared to everything else that had been happening up to that point.

Craig: And then the, uh, the doppelganger escapes through the roof. And the next thing that we see is Bob in Helen’s apartment apparently. And she’s like taking care of him, like giving him breakfast or something. And then there’s a knock on the door. And Bob says, don’t answer it. She’s like, well, I have to. And so she starts walking and Bob just starts like screaming.

Don’t answer a tone, answer it, don’t answer it. And he runs and you can see it’s a glass door. Uh, you can see the doppelganger silhouette on the other side, as she’s approaching the door, Bob runs upstairs in his pajamas, jumps into an already drawn bath and. Kills themselves

Todd: somehow. I’m not quite sure.

Craig: I mean, one way or another, he just gets in there in his clothes and then just floats face up.

And that’s it like for a while? Uh, that’s the last we see of him. And then we see Anna standing at the door getting ready to open the door. And then all of a sudden, all of these sirens start going off and explosions and the lights are flashing and she turns around and the camera just zooms in on her face.

Space as the lights are flashing and then it cuts the black and that’s the end. And I don’t know, like I’m thinking like, This it’s the end of the world. Like it’s an apocalypse, the like the, these two entities, whatever they are, you know, these doppelgangers of our main characters are coming together and like some sort of unholy union or something, but it’s all, you know, we don’t know, we don’t know what happens and.

I wear it cut to black and I’m sitting alone in my living room. What the

Todd: fuck?

Craig: So weird. One of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen, and there are so many things we’re already over time. There are so many things that we didn’t talk about.

Todd: Yeah.

Craig: That I’m sure are important talks and, Oh man, that was a wild, wild ride of a movie.

Todd: But you mentioned it had a serious, strong, emotional effect on you, right?

I mean, and me too. And I feel like that’s the point. You know, we talk about this. When we talk about a lot of European movies about the geology pictures, how the plot doesn’t make any sense, it’s almost nonsensical, but it almost seems like that’s not important. Like the point is that the director of the maker of this film is trying to get an emotional response is trying to put you in a particular state, trying to catch you kind of in a sort of symbiosis.

With the emotional state of the characters in the movie. And I feel like this movie does that very effectively and I’m pretty sure that CIS director’s purpose. I have not seen any of his other films. This is my first introduction to him. But based on this, I’m definitely going to be seeking them out. And apparently he makes a lot of movies like this and always ends them with an apocalypse.

At the end he’s Polish. He was born in Poland. He had to flee Poland cause he couldn’t make his movies there and stuff. Uh, he’s got kind of this dream. Background, you know, he’s this background of tension. And then this movie set is probably the most autobiographical movie that he has ever made because he actually started writing it and making it when he was in the middle of a divorce with his wife.

So you can feel that emotion in this film. Uh, and to that extent, I feel like it’s really successful. I think it. Kind of does apparently what it set out to do. And even though it’s very difficult to unpack, it seems to accomplish its purpose, which is to get you feeling for the characters and throw a lot of very uncomfortable things at you and get you thinking about it.

And I’ll tell you just again, I’m going to say personally, Um, without giving too much detail that, you know, it’s not a a hundred percent inaccurate reflection of the kind of emotional feelings you go through with a partner when you hit a point where maybe you’re you’re, you start to get a little unsure and dramatic about your relationship, you know?

And in that respect, I feel like for me, anyway, personally, it hit a few uncomfortable places. You know, it, it had some moments for me now I’ve never, you know, Walked into my wife banging a tentacled, Oh God, close to that. But you know, like, yeah, it’s a wild ride. This film, I

Craig: get what you’re saying. And I, and I get that, you know, the dynamics between in relationships when you love somebody so much, and you’ve been with somebody for such a long time, it does get weird.

I can’t relate to this because it just seems so traumatic. And I think that the reason that it’s. Bothered me and stayed with me is maybe this is a very American thing, but I think that I was uncovered uncomfortable with the level of ambiguity. Like, I feel like I’m missing something or

Todd: no,

Craig: I don’t know.

But it, it definitely, I mean, I was just thinking about it and talking about it.

Todd: Like, I’m trying,

Craig: I’m talking to my sister, I’m talking to my partner, I’m talking to my friends, like trying to kind of summarize some of the key moments just to try to process them for myself. And I’m like, and then there’s this bloody creature in the closet.

And then she sit and then, I don’t know.

Todd: I don’t know. You’re uh, you’re an English teacher. Have you ever read ceremony by Leslie Marmon? Silko you ever read that out? It’s a bit of a classic of native American literature and the book is titled ceremony and reading the book is like going through a ceremony. It’s quite. Interesting. It’s very profound kind of experience that the author somehow ends up putting you in an emotional state, as you’re reading this book about some other characters.

And I feel like this movie serves that same purpose. It, it puts you through this state. It, it puts you through this same process of these characters in a way that we’re not used to, we’re used to relating with people on this sort of level II. I in a way Hollywood can be a little detached, right? Like we observe and we see, Oh yeah, I relate to that.

Or, Oh yeah. I had an experience like that, but a movie like this, like gets into you and gets to your emotions and it’s like, now you are almost feeling what they’re feeling and it’s very uncomfortable. Right.

Craig: Yeah, it definitely, it had a physical impact on me. Like I was anxious, like my heart was racing. I was tense.

Yeah. So yeah. I mean, I can, I’m glad that we I’m glad that we watched it. I don’t think that I would put myself through it again. Um,

Todd: and, and honestly, how, how many people would you recommend this movie to? You know, I mean, who would you say, Oh, you gotta go see this. Nobody,

Craig: nobody you, I guess.

Todd: But

Craig: it’s one of those things that I think I’ll just kind of like, keep like a dirty little secret.

It’s like when I read, um, American psycho, the book, when I read the book, when I was done with it, I threw it in the trash because I didn’t want anybody

Todd: else to. And that’s

Craig: kinda how I. That’s kind, kinda how I feel about this movie. Oh, thanks Jace.

Todd: Well, again, I will echo that. Thank you, chase for giving us this film to watch. Just talk about it’s certainly going to go down as one of our more interesting episodes of wonderful mortal. Fun conversations. If you out there have another idea of a movie to send them to us. You can look us up on Facebook.

He’s a look us up online, just Google Two Guys and a Chainsaw, and you’ll find our podcast. Please share it with a friend and also find our YouTube page. And if you haven’t yet, please subscribe to us there as well. So we can build those numbers until next time. I’m Todd and I’m Craig with two guys and a Chainsaw.


One Reply to “Possession”

  1. R Williams

    I really enjoy your show and I’ve listened to nearly every episode you guys have put out so far, but I think you might have “whiffed” a little bit on this show- particularly if the mission statement of your podcast is to look at and judge each film you cover critically.

    It’s true and you did concede that POSSESSION has a lot to “unpack” within it’s runtime. And the fact that you two normally cover films with a more exploitative or “accessible” flavor to them might have left you relatively unprepared for such a surreal, unusual, heightened and abstract piece of cinema. And that’s more than fine- not every movie should be “easy”. However, analyzing POSSESSION can be considered “challenging” for even the most seasoned art-house macabre cinephile.

    More to the point- I’m willing to bet that although you both admit you can identify (to SOME level) the stresses and angst that Żuławski was bringing to the movie… unless you have been though a full-fledged breakup or divorce with **someone whom you had no business actually becoming romantically involved with**, POSSESSION can miss it’s mark.

    I would strongly encourage you to re-examine POSSESSION from a different angle: Each scene establishes a character whom we are identifying with as being “their” scene. From that moment on- we are seeing the actions and behavior of other people **through the viewpoint of that established character**. Considering that Mark and Anna are BOTH mentally unbalanced, their impression of the dialogue and extreme action the other characters in the scene display makes more sense. When you break up, YOUR version of a fight is vastly different than your former partner’s version. The things we see in each scene- if we see them broadcast from the point of view of the established character- suddenly makes more “sense”

    Use this somewhat neutral example: Mark is reporting his covert operations to his benefactors after returning from his mission. But his head is spinning and his thoughts about the personal trouble he has “come home to” fills him with anxiety and an inability to focus. Hence the camera wanders and sweeps about the debriefing room and fills us with the same sense of unease and distraction.

    Anna is already mentally tormented and distracted. Doesn’t it make sense that she seems **completely** unhinged and borderline schizophrenic whenever we see her/hear her argue with Mark when a scene has been established to be from his point of view? When he sees her cut herself with the electric knife- doesn’t the scene play out more like Mark’s retelling or re-thinking of the event after the fact? “She lost her freaking mind and ended up slicing herself in the neck and she didn’t even FEEL it!”

    Moments later the scene shifts to her point of view, and she sees Mark cut himself in an attempt to somehow attach himself emotionally to his distressed and unstable wife. Wouldn’t SHE “see” Mark react to it almost the same way?

    The biggest issue I have with your coverage of POSSESSION happened when both of you failed to see something that seems so obvious once you adopt this frame of mind during the film: We create ideals for ourselves and disregard the reality of a person’s actual traits and characteristics if they don’t suit our vision/version of them. When those partners begin to behave in ways that contradict the personalities we have idealized them for, we start to see them “behave strangely”.

    Is it possible that Mark is the ONLY person who thinks that Bob’s teacher (Helen) resembles Anna because that’s all HE sees? Once again (after losing a woman he has married but whom he has no real identity with or true knowledge of)… Mark has impressed what HE believes is the “Ideal traits” of a person on to a woman he encounters in order to justify his own delusions. “This one is similar to Anna but she’s BETTER… she’s more STABLE… she treats Bob like a woman should treat a little boy”… No no, Mark… you are so wrapped up in your own narcissism and insecurities that you aren’t able to see anyone for who *they* are.

    And yes, Anna is deeply, DEEPLY conflicted, disturbed, and unbalanced. What more could you expect from a director who sees himself as “slightly more stable than a woman whom he has just divorced”? But he still attempts to empathize with her confusion and philosophical dilemma by showing her wrestling with her sexuality, her morality and her feelings of feminine oppression.

    The movie is called POSSESSION for a reason. It’s about “having” someone even though you don’t really know who or what it is that you have. It’s about “seeing someone for what they really are” after you have removed yourself from the miasma of emotions and doubt and vulnerability and self-inflicted pathos that you endure when a relationship falls apart. It’s about breathing life and existence into things that are only ideas or feelings outside of a nightmare. The monster Anna creates is a personification of so many dark, seething conflicting emotions in her broken mind. The evil Doppelganger Mark suggests a man who is once again unable to be seen for who and what he actually is.

    And as for that ending… well… when you have failed miserably at a relationship and you have been reduced to nothing more than a footnote and a symbol of what your former partner perceives you as being… doesn’t that make you feel like your world is ending?

    I’m obviously an avid student of film and I would love to engage you in a discussion about some of the more unusual concepts & elements in “trickier” movies like POSSESSION. Again- I’m not criticizing your show or your analysis of this piece… I just think that it deserved to be approached by an angle that you two got close to approaching but seemed to shy away from.

    Please keep up the great work, and watch more movies that challenge you. That’s where the real joy comes from.

    Best,

    Ryan

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