Most people think that relationship break ups affect only the person who is left behind. Thinking that the person who is splitting the entity apart is having a blast by doing it, only because it already secured the successor and doesn’t have to worry about anything, is a false statement. It happens, yes, but is that the common rule? No. The director ANDRZEJ ZULAWSKI (The third part of the night, 1971) gathered that knowledge by the most painful way he could imagine – the downfall of his own marriage. In this time, he translated all his emotional pain, turmoil and confusion he experienced to a screenplay that eventually became the movie POSSESSION.
‘Possession was born of a totally private experience. After making That Most Important Thing in France, I went back to Poland to get my family (which at the time was my wife and my kid) and bring them to France. I had two or three interesting proposals to make really big European films. But when I returned to Poland I saw exactly what the guy in Possession sees when he opens the door to his flat, which is an abandoned child in an empty flat and a woman who is doing something somewhere else.’ -Andrzej Zulawski
The movie was chopped down from 124 minutes to miserably 78 minutes and was disregarded as a video nasty at the time it premiered, so the targeted audience didn’t have the chance to see it until the DVD release in 2009. When they finally got the opportunity to see it, it instantly became a cult film and is hailed as a masterpiece. The story, setting and execution are unique, but at the same time the narrative is unbelievably confusing, like the surreal movies of David Lynch. After a longer absence, MARK (Sam Neill) returns to his wife ANNA (Isabelle Adjani) to West-Berlin, only to find out that she demands a divorce. In his painful state he tries to find out, who this mysterious new lover is and why she is leaving him, but the truth is even more painful. She lied to them both; a third lover is pushed into the equation and he is the one who took control of her life.
The whole movie takes place from Mark’s point of view. His ego is hurt more so than Anna’s, so the audience don’t get the full account of her side of the story. Unfortunately, Mark is an unreliable narrator of the story, because his feelings are standing in the way of the real events, so the audience has to witness abstract thoughts, confusing elements and visual metaphors, as a sum up of this painful ordeal. The glimpses that the spectator receives are open to interpretation, but it’s crucial to follow the arguments based in reality, to really comprehend the film. They build up the foundation and a starting point, so we can be able to decipher various stages of the film. The metaphors represent fractions of each individual character, but they fall apart into themselves, if a metaphor is built upon another metaphor. That being said, the movie seems to have three levels:
- THE REALITY
- THE SURREAL
- THE ABSTRACT
So, we have to examine the movie with the help of some logic regarding all three stages. That logic that I’ll be using comes from the famous Ontology (the study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the being and their relations). It is most likely that Zulawski inserted these fundamental ideas, because the book from GEORG LUKACS, named Ontologie (Ontology), can clearly be seen as one of the books on a shelf.
THE SEVEN STAGES
Through the logic of Ontology the movie has seven stages instead of three, but it is ideal, because it entails the three stages we went looking for. The seven stages are:
- UNIVERSALS AND PARTICULARS
- SUBSTANCE AND ACCIDENT
- ABSTRACT AND CONCRETE OBJECTS
- ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE
- MONISM AND DUALISM
- IDEALISM AND MATERIALISM
- DETERMINISM AND INDETERMINISM
The biggest and most important parts of this movie are the two main characters, the PARTICULARS, which represent concrete entities existing in space and time. The UNIVERSALS try to bring identical behavioral elements out of Anna and Mark to the surface, which only showcases that at first glance it might seem that both couldn’t be more different, but with deeper understanding, it is apparent that both act the same way. To tell the moviegoers to pay close attention to Anna’s and Mark’s behavior, many behavioral research books are present on the book shelf as well.
Although he wants to convey the appearance of a controlled, rational and calm man, he is everything else but that kind of a personality. He was on a business trip, most likely as a secret agent, because he had to keep track of a man and every little detail he does. After he had a talk with his ‘supervisors’ he goes out and secretly opens an envelope in his briefcase that entails a big amount of money. So, his job is definitely illegal. He refused to work further for these men, so he can spend time with his family.
He is very stubborn, and brags about him not having a fear in dangerous situations. After his wife tells him that she didn’t have a lover in the time of his absence, he still begins to snoop around the apartment, because he doesn’t believe her and quickly finds proof that she had a lover. He is a good spy, after all. He feels betrayed, because he is working his ass off to support her and their child and that is the way she repays him.
‘Who was I doing it for after all?’
She eventually left him and he slowly crumbles down. They tried to work things out but he exploded inside a bar, so all agreements flew out of the window.
On one hand, he wants to have a clean break up with no repercussions, so he says that he ‘doesn’t want to see his son anymore’, on the other he doesn’t want their relationship to end, because he still has feelings for her. So, he is torn between the things he should do, so she and their son can move on, but his wishes and desires are still controlling him. It is not an easy decision to make a cut. After a three week breakdown, which looked more likely like an addiction withdrawal, than a post break up tantrum, he decides to see his son and finds out she doesn’t care about him as she should, so he takes control over his son and the nightmare starts.
She tries to be tough and controlled, but fails so many times. Because she was alone for a long time and begun to feel how she and Mark are slowly growing apart, any romantic gesture mesmerized her right away. That’s why she cheated. Then out of self hatred, she began to lie to herself, about her life and how happy she feels. That’s the reason why Mark is so surprised to learn about a lover.
‘But it’s difficult, don’t you understand?’
Anna is very well aware what Mark is going through.
‘I didn’t want it to happen, but it happened and now..’
She didn’t want to tell him that she cheated and she wanted to continue the relationship with him, but in the night when he came back, they tried to connect, but it was unsuccessful. That gave her the right push to get away from him.
‘We’re over, MARK.’
Once she left him, she realized how painful that break actually is and now tries to help him to overcome that suffering by saying only harsh things to him, so he can hate her instead of hoping that they still end up together:
‘I get bored of it.’
‘If it makes things easier, I was in his bed the first night I met him.’
‘A monster. A whore. I fuck around with everybody.’
That becomes painfully obvious, when she answers only things Mark wants to hear, so he can leave her alone:
‘Mark: Where were you?
Anna: With Margie.
Mark: Not true, I spoke to her.
Anna: I was with him.
Mark: That’s not true either. I saw him. I may .. stink from him. But he is not lying.
Anna: I was with friends.
Anna: New friends.
Mark: I’ll check.
Anna: Yes, check check check.
Mark: Why did you leave last night?
Anna: To be alone!’
The next part concentrates on ACCIDENTS, an attribute which belongs to a subject without affecting its ESSENCE. ESSENCE on the other hand, tells what the characters are really about. Their mind sets and fundamental problems are laid out before the spectator to make them realize where all this darkness comes from.
ABSENCE OF LOVE
Anna wants a divorce from Mark. And throughout the movie on everybody’s mind is the question ‘when’ will it happen as opposed to ‘what the hell is the REASON for their divorce?’. They had a little talk at the beginning of the movie about how:
Anna: ‘Maybe all couples go through this.’
Well, they seem to be very specific about their problems.
Anna: ‘I don’t know.’
Going further into the movie, it becomes obvious that everyone (Anna, Mark, Heinrich, Zimmerman and Margit) is very insecure of themselves. They all want to be loved, but they make the wrong decisions to arrive at their destination.
1. ANNA – She experienced many devastating hours, before MARK arrived.
‘I can’t exist by myself because I’m afraid of myself,
because I’m the maker of my own evil.’
She is very insecure about herself and her life, but she just can bring it over her lips to confess that problem to Mark. In the conversation in the kitchen, MARK is furiously stating everything what comes to his mind and asks her:
‘Are you afraid, I won’t like you?’
She gave a confirmed nod. The reason why she wants a divorce is the fact that she found someone who reinstalled her security and fleshed out her awareness of her true wishes and goals in life and that person is Heinrich.
‘I am with you because you say ‘I’ for me.’
In that scene, Anna is teaching a ballerina girl how to stand up on one foot, but her method is asking too much of the girl and she cries out in agony. Anna than explains:
‘From now on she will know how much righteous anger
and sheer will she’s got in her to say,
‘I can do as well. I can be better. I’m the best.’
It seems like she is explaining her own suffering. Her life was miserable and she put up with it, until someone opened her eyes. But now, she requires even more than Heinrich is able to provide it to her. After she learned to see with the right perception of reality, she moved on.
2. MARK – He is a special agent working for an unknown organization. He is very good at his job and his supervisors don’t like it that he quits his job. That is great for his ego, because he feels useful and comes home like a providing man. After he finds out, Anna has been cheating on him, his ego is wiped out from the face of the earth. When talking to Anna on the phone, the main thing he wants to find out is how good of a lover he was:
Mark: ‘Do you sleep with him?’
Mark: ‘Do you like it?’
Mark: ‘More than with me?’
When he brought up the courage to ring on Heinrich’s door, his shoulders are down, but when he sees him, he puts them up, so to enforce a subliminal fear in Heinrich. Indeed, Mark is a few centimeters higher than Heinrich (booyah). Later on in the movie he explains how:
‘I used to be afraid of you. But I don’t think I am anymore.’
3. HEINRICH – His persona is very annoying, irritating and every audience member ask himself the same question: ‘Anna, how could you?‘. But he really accomplished much. He is the one who opened Anna to her senses (Mark only closed her up), he stopped two people to be more miserable than they already were (why should Mark and Anna play their charade any longer) and he restored Mark’s ego. He loves his mother, but he is basically a walking Kama Sutra lexicon with a decent drug dealer hobby. He knows how to satisfy a woman’s needs and he is into this Zen stuff, so enlightenment is his stick.
The problem occurs, when he is only the second wheel on the four wheel car. He thought he is the best and Mark thought so too, until:
Mark: ‘Oh..I don’t know the guys name.’
Heinrich: ‘It’s impossible. It doesn’t make sense.’
Mark: ‘Why not? Because you think you’ve given her the supreme pleasure?
You with your yin-yang balls dangeling from your zen brain.’
It’s not getting into Heinrich’s head that he was great, but Anna decided to move on.
All three people are possessed, addicted to someone and all three think that the admired ones belong to them, hence the title of the movie: POSSESSION. When they admire someone so deeply; there is no point of return.
Mark begs Anna to stay with him.
Heinrich wants Anna, thinking she belongs to him.
But Anna is possessed by a third entity. She leaves two lovers behind, only to be with him, so he has to be something special. Oh boy, and special he is. Also, all three characters experience an addiction withdrawal, each in their own way.
Anna has long lasting hysteria fits, which are so intense that it renders her self-destructive.
Mark’s withdrawal happens in the hotel room and is so intense; he even forgets how to speak.
Heinrich seems at least affected, but nonetheless, he is outside his comfort zone and he lost his control, his cool. Furthermore, the location where Mark is on his own, where he is recognized to be great and where he has the most control in his life, is the office where his superiors making arrangements with him. The room is equipped only with a table and some chairs. There is nothing else that could give away more information about someone’s whereabouts.
Mark is not aware that Anna is so similar to him; they lived a long time together, so it’s only natural to brush some things on the partner as well. When she wants to be alone and feel better about herself or just be in control of her own life, she goes to an apartment that is very similar to Marks office. It has nothing in it, besides a bed. Nothing else that could give away that someone is actually living there.
OTHER CHARACTERS THAT JUST WANT TO BE LOVED
The whole movie contains the categories of ESSENCE (mostly referred to the soul and most important internally determined goals of a person) and EXISTENCE (represents reality and all the relations to the being that exists in that reality). Anna’s soul is the one which has to be freed, but the audience has to figure out what kind of souls the other characters own. These souls exist in a reality which is controlled by their emotions. All characters are specific and they exist inside the movie for a purpose. Their personalities should give away clues to the essence of Anna’s and Mark’s dominant emotional states.
The private detective ZIMMERMAN (Shaun Lawton) was hired to find Anna’s hideout, but instead of going by himself, he sends out his next best man, his clumsy LOVER (Cal Duering). After the detective disappears, Zimmerman is going to find him, because he loves him, but he awaits the same faith the detective encountered.
Just as Heinrich puts Mark’s hands to his chest to speak frankly, so did Mark to Zimmerman, which implies that Mark isn’t afraid to be emasculate, but he chooses to whom he wants to open the door to his inner self.
The detectives embody Mark’s ability as an agent, he likes to snoop around and it’s his job, but also a big part of his personality.
Heinrich’s MOTHER (Johanna Hofer) lived in Heinrich’s apartment. He loved her so much; he didn’t want her to be anywhere else. She loved him the same. She knew everything about him there is to know, where he goes, when he will be back, when he fucks and with whom. After Mark tells Heinrich’s mother about her son’s death, his mother took a load of sleeping pills and went to sleep.
‘I don’t want to be here if Heinrich’s is not around anymore.’
Heinrich’s mother represents the fraction of Anna’s soul which loves her son. Although the moviegoers are being witness to the horrible way she threats her son, she still was a very caring mother before Mark arrived and she can’t just cut the connection to him either, that’s why she comes back again and again. The boy loves her nonetheless, just as a kid should.
MARGIT GLUCKMEISTER (Margit Carstensen) is Anna’s only friend. Mark doesn’t like her, but in the way Margit behaves, it’s clear she likes Mark. She don’t want to interfere with Anna’s and Mark’s relationship, but if Mark calls her, she is very helpful. Later in the movie she becomes Bob’s stand-in-mother and as a payback, Mark gives her the long-awaited hug she desperately desired. Anna slit her throat, so she is a goner, too. Margit is the fraction of Mark’s soul that cares about the son. She is just a friend but ends up caring for Bob, just as Mark didn’t want to be around his son anymore, but he eventually ends up doing exactly that.
Now we will examine ABSTRACT AND CONCRETE OBJECTS (physical or abstract object which does not exist at any particular time or space, but rather exist as a type of thing, an idea, an abstraction) in combination with MONISM and DUALISM (the state of two parts that are two moral opposites). Monism explains how everything is derived from ‘The One’. Although God is mentioned many times throughout the movie, it seems that ‘The One’ title belongs to Anna. She tells Mark about her extraordinary adventures and the audience sees the outcome afterwards, so it’s not hard to grasp that Anna was the first to roll the dice. The explanation entails both categories, because it’s hard to examine one without telling about the other.
THE OPENING SHOT
In the first shot of the movie we see the top of a wall with the famous Berlin wall on the right side standing along an unknown street; there are many metal constructions in a row resembling a triangle on that top on the wall.
Firstly, these triangles are foreshadowing many relationship triangles that will happen in the story. There are many, so visually the directors choose a shot that doesn’t have an end to these constructions. The Berlin wall represents the trap. Every character in the story is trapped. These triangles are indicating that they are the reason why the characters are trapped. The triangles don’t allow the characters to be free. Somehow they always come back or they have obligations to carry out.
FAITH AND CHANCE AND DUALISM
Anna tells something about two sisters. They are highly symbolic, of course. She established a monologue about the sisters on the day Heinrich taped her in the dancing school. She explains how:
‘It’s like those two sisters of Faith and Chance.
Faith can’t exclude Chance, but Chance…
My faith can’t exclude chance, but my chance can explain faith.
My faith didn’t allow me to wait for chance and chance
didn’t give me enough faith.’
Through this creepy anecdote, Anna tells Mark, what happened to her during his absence. So many times he didn’t want to hear about it and so many times she didn’t want to say it in fear of rejection. Finally, Mark lets her to open up and really tries to hear her out. She confesses:
Anna: ‘I messed everything up. Even Bob.
I’ve been a cheat, a liar, completely alone, wounded.
And you think I’m immoral shit. I think that too
but not for the same reasons.
I feel nothing for no-one!’
After hearing this confession Mark is at peace. He got what he wanted, an apology, something. He feels more at ease and when she explains what happened to her in the subway station, he is carefully listening. She tells the story, the audience witness it as it happens, but that is not a real representation of what happen, it is only Mark’s mind that makes up the visuals as she is explaining what happened. Affected by her confession, he imagines a horrible incident and how tough it must have been for her to go through such an experience.
What the audience sees is an incredible performance by Isabelle Adjani during the most intense five minutes of the movie, memorized forever by the camera for cinema history. Anna continues:
Anna: ‘As if the two sisters were too exhausted to fight any more.
What I miscarried there was Sister Faith.
And what was left is Sister Chance.
So I had to take care of my faith to protect it.’
Mark: ‘And that’s what you’re doing there?’
So, first let me explain what these names means.
FAITH – the general explanation is: complete confidence or trust in a person or thing.
CHANCE – An accidental or unpredictable event, an opportunity.
These are complete opposites from one another. So, let’s take a look if there are examples of complete opposites inside the movie:
Not only different in hair colour or the colour of the eyes, but also in attitude, as well as appearance, are Anna and Helen. Anna is uncontrolled, possessive, unreliable and self-destructive, where as HELEN (school teacher that looks exactly like Anna, could be mistaken for her sister) is calm, reliable, helps out Mark with his son and doesn’t force anything onto him. He wants Anna to be like Helen. From Marks point of view HELEN is FAITH (he trusts her and it looks like if he ends up with her, he could get over Anna and have a new beginning). ANNA IS CHANCE (an accidental or unpredictable event? An opportunity?). On this, I have to elaborate.
In this point of the movie Mark is in great shape. Margit helps him around the boy, he wants to start a new life with Helen in mind, he overcame the fear of Heinrich and he doesn’t feel this addiction to Anna anymore. His ‘blind ambition’ is gone. This seems like a perfect ending for Mark, but it’s not even near the end of the movie. Here something peculiar happens. Heinrich calls Mark to say that he was at Anna’s place and that there are dead bodies around and that Anna stabbed him severely. Then the gears change, everything comes to a halt and a creepy grin magically appears on Mark’s face as he tells Heinrich to go the nearest bar and to wait for him. From this scene on, the line between reality and metaphor is blurred so heavy, that it is hard to figure out what is going on. The meaning which connects the dot that ANNA is CHANCE, presents itself through this opportunity, which Mark is more than willing to take it into his hands.
Furthermore, as this is the case with Anna’s doppelganger, so Mark’s can’t be far away. Just like Mark encountered the perfect version of Anna in Helen, so is the same thing happening to Anna. From Anna’s point of view, the doppelganger represents FAITH and Mark is the CHANCE. She doesn’t love Mark or Heinrich anymore, because she has a new lover and he is the combination of both previous lovers. Mark is aggressive, but Heinrich is calm and focused, good in bed too. But Mark has the good looks and Heinrich is too old. So, the combination of the two is the perfect amount of man for Anna to enjoy. The audience never learns the name of Mark’s doppelganger, but it is obvious that he has emerald green eyes, just as Helen does. Since this doppelganger is a miscarriage of Anna, which she had to protect, it’s easy to assume that Anna miscarried Helen, as well.
1. THE STORY OF THE DOG
When Anna told Mark about the subway mess, he had the urge to share a story of his own. It is a curious story about him and a dog.
Mark: ‘You know, I remember when I was a kid.
Have you ever seen a dying dog, you know,
one of those old dogs that come to die under the..
under the porch of the house? At the last moment,
it…yelps…in terror…as if it’s seen something real.’
The dog story somehow manifests itself in the form of a dog’s dead body laying in the river and Mark starring at it. Out of nowhere a bald man appears behind Marks back and says:
Bald man: ‘That dog didn’t die of old age.’
How does he know about this dog and Mark’s intimate thoughts? In addition, there is a scene with Anna looking up at a wooden Jesus statue inside a church and starts to cry out, almost like yelping. That scene happens before the nasty subway encounter.
2. THE BALD MAN AND HIS SOCKS
This bald guy appears twice in the movie.This bald guy appears twice in the movie.
Once in the office at the table with Mark’s supervisors, in fact, he is one of the supervisors, and afterwards when Mark sees the dead dog in the river. The curious thing about him is that one of the supervisors asks if the subject that Mark spied on ‘still wears the pink socks?’
At the end of the movie the bald guy takes his shoes off to get stones out of it and the audience can be a witness to the fact that he wears pink socks. Still. So, did Mark spy on this guy or was all of it just a charade?
3. THE HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
There are many things very similar in Marks flat and inside Heinrich’s apartment.
They have the same TV.
Both have peculiar red bikes inside the house.
Mark points out how they have the same books. It is very interesting to see that every book is from a library, coded and sealed. Have Heinrich and Anna the intent to return them ever again?
4. THE SUBWAY
Both times, when Anna is taking the Subway to get to her destination, the station is completely empty. Only the Subway arrives, nobody goes in, nobody gets out.
The first time the detective is the only person in the station and he is following her. The second time around she will go through this miscarriage, so the subway is empty as a foreshadowing sign that something will happen.
5. THE BED
There are two shots with Mark in his bed. The first time the shot seems very unnatural, he’s with Anna in bed and she cries. The shot is uncomfortable to watch, not only because Anna is crying, but it seems so crammed, like there is not enough room for both characters to live together. The second time he dares to bring another woman inside the bed and they have a laugh together. This shot is from a different angle and it shows how easy a life can be.
6. THE SECRET OFFICE
The camera spins two times around the office where Mark is meeting his employees. The camera goes way back and during the spin and comes back so close that the audience can get a very good glimpse at the faces of his supervisors.
7. THE CASTED FOOT
When Margie arrives at Mark’s place to help him out with his son, she has her left foot in a white cast.
At the end of the movie when everything goes to ‘nonsense mode’ Mark’s doppelganger sees a women standing at the top of the stairs, who is watching how the police executes Anna and Mark. She has also a cast on her left foot, but it not a white cast, it’s black.
THE COLOURS OF LIFE
The movie has a really dark tone and is permeated with a very cold atmosphere. The colours used to achieve this kind of intensely bleak vision entail mostly variations of blues, striking vibrant emerald green details and some yellows. Blues dominate the picture, but greens and yellows really stand out when in shot.
Blue represents sadness, people being passive not active, oppressed, repressed, more of a thinker colour. It really captures the mood the main characters are in. Their whole wardrobe consists of blue clothes.
It seems like everyone is wearing blue tinted clothes or fifty shades of grey, since it’s very similar to a blue pattern.
The car of Zimmerman is strikingly blue and the bag of little Bob is also blue.
Green is a duality colour, which can refer to opposites, but not necessarily. Green signals life and nature, illness in some cases or evil.
In this movie the green colour covers the eyes of the doppelgangers, telling on one hand that they are the opposites of the main characters, but also that they are alive, which indicates that they were made by someone to be alive, like the Frankenstein monster.
The only thing in Anna’s hideout is a bed, covered with green sheets. The bed represents not only evil in this case, because it is the reason why Mark and Anna are divorcing and new bizarre relationships are spawned within it, but also it represents life, because the new creature is born inside Anna’s bed.
Yellow, they say, is a contrary colour, it represents the sun, so it draws attention to itself. It is the perfect colour to describe obsession.
Heinrich is obsessed with Anna, so he tries to win her over at the bright yellow wall, also Margit became obsessed with Mark, so the shopping bags are yellow, because this is her ticket to get into his world, and she helps him out in the house. The little boy, Bob, is obsessed with diving, nearly every time we see him he is diving, he is obsessed because he wants to avoid the real world, which is too much for him to bear.
Bob: ‘How long was I down?’
Mark: ‘Oh…ages and ages.’
While watching the movie up to this point, some facts are becoming to sound surreal. The bond between Anna and Mark is falling apart, because Anna has someone else, who she desperately needs to protect. She kills, so nobody can take it away from her. The ‘it’ being is a strange creature.
These scenes talk about IDEALISM (reality, as we can perceive it, is a mental construct). What Anna tries to comprehend inside her mind is not only the part of choosing between Mark and Heinrich; she also creates a list of the best parts of their personality, so she can pick the one with the more qualities. But instead of picking, she creates someone new with these qualities. That is called MATERIALISM (all phenomena, including thoughts exist as ultimately physical). A being is manifested inside the reality which is based on Anna’s thoughts. It represents the outcry of an unstable personality.
MARK’S MYSTERIOUS JOB
The audience never gets to learn the truth about Mark’s work. It is obvious that he was away for a longer time than he intended and that it was his mission to follow and observe someone. That someone is the bald guy, sitting at the end of the table where his supervisors meet up with Mark to collect his findings. It’s established by the connection through the ‘pink socks’. But his job had more to it than just following the bald guy.
Everything that the main characters go through is physically manifested in their world, like Anna’s ideal love or, the miscarriage of Sister Faith. The detectives hired by Mark to find Anna, are manifestations of Mark’s work. He is an investigator and he followed someone, just like the detectives do.
As it turns out, both detectives are homosexuals and have a relationship. Why is it important to portray both detectives as homosexuals? Is Mark’s job tied to homosexuality?
Anna: ‘Did you have anyone?’
Mark: ‘The truth is, not exactly.’
Anna asks Mark if he had a love affair during his absence and he gives a very vague explanation. ‘Not exactly‘ hints at the fact that he was with someone, but it may not have been love. It may have been an order from his supervisors to get as close as possible to the subject of his investigation, hence the homosexuality. Mark has already undergone some homosexual encounters. In Heinrich’s apartment, he didn’t react negatively to Heinrich’s intimate touching or the Detective’s closeness behind the street. But there is something more peculiar and it’s tied to the story with the dog. The bald man who Mark was hired to follow, knew about Mark’s deepest feelings he didn’t even told Anna until her confession. How did the bald guy know about it, if Mark didn’t say it to him in an intimate conversation? Mark’s work alienates him from Anna and ultimately destroyed his marriage.
The last entry in the seven main categories of Ontology covers DETERMINISM and INDETERMINISM. That concept of indeterminism explains that a specific event is not caused by prior events. It functions as an opposite of determinism and it is related to chance.
THE GRAND FINALE
The ending is very, very really confusing. Everything that was established during the movie becomes altered in the end and works as an opposite to the whole point of the movie. That’s when indeterminism comes into play. No prior event leads to this kind of ending, it stays on its own. The finale tries to connect every open end of the movie for a successful resolution, but everything happens on an abstract layer. Some minor aspects could be still related to the overall theme, like Mark’s doppelganger or the death of Heinrich’s mother, but everything else is a new set of rules which don’t depend on older ones from the first half of the movie.
Anna: ‘But at the same time I know there’s a third possibility,
you know, like cancer, or madness, but cancer and
madness contort reality. The possibility I’m talking
about pierces reality.’
In this end Mark and Anna end up together. He understands her motivation and wants to help her. She is now the damsel in distress, a complete opposite from the beginning of the film, where she wants to take her life into her own hands. Furthermore, Mark throws himself of the motorcycle nearly killing himself for no apparent reason and then he crawls inside a building to die (Mark’s dog story was a foreshadowing of this incident), which has a staircase as confusing as the last thirty minutes of the movie.
Anna appears out of nowhere and Mark is confused as are the moviegoers.
Mark: ‘How could you find me?’
Anna: ‘How could I not?’
Anna and Mark die together without hatred, because their self-destruction connected them eventually together. The doppelgangers also try to get together, since they are the perfect versions of Anna and Mark. Old parents die forever, new take their place. The only problem is, Bob doesn’t seem to approve of this message. The finale becomes an absurdist play in the likes of EUGENE IONESCO. Absurd, because in the mind of Andrzej Zulawski, his own divorce was unnecessary and made no sense, so he inserted in this extraordinary excessive finale such a unique thought, that leaves the audience in complete shock.
POSSESSION is a very well made piece of art, which is poetic, excessive, painful and in the end very real. It spreads the awareness that a break up leaves permanent scars for both parties involved and should not be taken lightly. Ontology is used, because it combines many complex thoughts and expresses them in a specific way. The film tries to show a study of human nature to the audience, their thoughts, feelings and what the characters are becoming when in state of a crisis. A new worldview has to be created, with a new reality attached to it, so the characters can slowly overcome their painful existence. Also, the movie explores every being in regards to their relations with the world. The relationships, the families and the strangers, all play a huge and important role in the film, so the audience can discover all possible ‘what if’s‘ and maybe take an insightful message back to their lives. It is without doubt Zulawski’s masterpiece with so many layers and even more skill attached to it. This portrait of a broken marriage has so many hidden symbols and metaphors inside, that it is impossible to solve them all, so it will be talked about for years to come.
ZULAWSKI: Look, I’m so easily bored with cinema. It’s not because
I don’t appreciate the effort, the acting, the script writing,
or whatever. But most of it is so predictable, after five
minutes I know exactly the pattern, the flow, how it will turn out.