Ktismatics

30 December 2010

Possession by Zulawski, 1981

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 9:25 am

I believe this is the first feature-length film I’ve watched entirely on YouTube. Here’s the link to part 1 of 9.

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6 Comments »

  1. Wot no Heinrich?

    I like the automatically generated possibly related posts!

    After feeling abased before the suffering, and the demands, of Christ, she aborts sister faith … and so has to take care of her own faith… Something like that. Er. She builds her own, partially out of the men she has known, and killed. And it’s monstrous.

    Sam Neill’s double of Anna is intelligent, but compliant. A caring, sexually available schoolteacher. With eyes of jealous green. Anna’s monster is something else altogether. Even when it becomes a new, post-human doppleganger of Neill. It’s perfect and ruthless. Oh, I don’t know. It seems to make bizarre sense when you’re watching it, or experiencing it, like a dream feels real when you’re dreaming it (uh-oh, I nicked that from Inception).

    It’s basically about divorce and how you can never really leave someone. Uh. Maybe. Then there’s all the secret agent stuff, surveillance and the Wall… And Margit Carstensen. And the old lady dying, stuff about souls. Er.

    Happy New Year!

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    Comment by NB — 1 January 2011 @ 3:51 pm

  2. Same to you, nb.

    My selection of images depends in part on the compositional elements I wish to combine, in part on the pragmatics of finding cool shots from the film. Having to scroll through 9 Youtubes makes it harder, which is partly why Heinrich didn’t make it. He did look fetching in his little white jumpsuit, and his interactions with Neill’s character were more than a little strange, adding to the overall delirium.

    I thought it was the son who created the Anna doppelganger, although of course the husband is the one who slept with her. Compliant mother, compliant lover — it’s an Oedipal triangle. And certainly the son didn’t want his “new dad” to come home, because if his serpentine larval stage is any indication the Neill doppelganger is going to be one horny fucker, monopolizing the Anna doppelganger’s attention completely.

    Anna wanted a sexy beast: it’s hard to figure how those two private eyes would have added to the composition. But I guess it’s the case that Anna wanted some homoerotic manliness added into the mix: Heinrich was “ambidextrous” I’d say, and the two PIs were each other’s gay lovers. Killing the component parts of the doppelganger seemed more important to Anna than fucking them — suggests an autoeroticism and certainly a misanthropy that’s more than a match for Neill’s misogyny. But the narcissistic sex toy is also a means of self-destruction, since Anna is clearly bent on that path from early on.

    The political angle I couldn’t grasp. Neill is some sort of cold war spy, and we keep getting shots of East Berlin across the barbed wire. We know that Zulawski came from the other side of that fence, and so his camera keeps glancing back. Why? And what has it to do with the sex and violence in this movie? Is it possible that Neill was spying on himself, that Zulawski is showing us his Eastern sexually violent self occupying the rational and controlled West?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 1 January 2011 @ 4:44 pm

  3. I hadn’t thought that it was the son who had created the Anna double. Good point. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it all the way through.

    “Neill doppelganger is going to be one horny fucker, monopolizing the Anna doppelganger’s attention completely.”

    Yes. Perhaps the Anna doppelganger, as she was, would be annihilated (it ends with WWIII), and more chaos would ensue, a final cataclysm. Cliched caring and loving removed, but replaced only with (super) egoic brutality. The old Anna and Neill (can’t remember his character’s name) briefly fall in together towards the end of the film (she responds positively to seeing Heinrich’s blood on his shirt). And then they die together. Even in death it’s too much. After shooting each other, Anna dies, Neill Mk2 gets some poor girl to shoot Neill again and then he somehow manages to through himself down the stairwell, seemingly to escape from Anna’s dead clutches.

    “And what has it to do with the sex and violence in this movie? Is it possible that Neill was spying on himself, that Zulawski is showing us his Eastern sexually violent self occupying the rational and controlled West?”

    This is interesting. The Wall is a super-obvious metaphor for a divided self and a fractured relationship. I tend to think that both East and West in this film that are violent. Heinrich’s sub-Nietzschean, sub-Eastern philosophy is very egocentric and Westernised. There’s that scene near the end when the secret agent talks to Neill again and asks him how he can care for a dog floating in the river when the whole world’s in danger. How can he fixate on such a little thing? The agent then amusingly tries on one of Neill’s dead man’s shoes after his fall down the stairwell. They have no time for people’s trifles.

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    Comment by NB — 2 January 2011 @ 6:02 am

  4. Here’s an amusing, possibly related take on the subject by Hal Hartley:

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    Comment by NB — 2 January 2011 @ 6:10 am

  5. For awhile both doppelgangers coexist with the originals — or were they too doppelgangers, since they seem like near strangers to each other when they have their reunion at the very beginning of the film.Bbut then the originals prove to be one another’s demise. The new domestic scene will, if the son is right, prove equally disastrous. Presumably this cycle of creating idealized desire-fulfillment replicants can go on indefinitely, with each iteration proving entirely destructive. Maybe that’s Zulawski’s picture of “trouble and desire” = serial egoic brutality. I’ve requested a couple of Hal Hartley movies from the library: Simple Men, which is the one from the Youtube Clip, and Henry Fool.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 2 January 2011 @ 11:01 am

  6. “Presumably this cycle of creating idealized desire-fulfillment replicants can go on indefinitely, with each iteration proving entirely destructive.”

    Yes, I think that’s quite right. It’s not a happy film, is it? Zulawski himself lived with Sophie Marceau since the mid-eighties, I think. So at least the cycle has been broken in real life!

    Henry Fool is interesting, if over-long. I don’t remember much about Simple Men. Hartley is often too pithy for his own good, but when it works it’s great. I’m still a big fan of Trust (his second film, I think), where the characterisation is strong enough for the abstracted but direct dialogue.

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    Comment by NB — 3 January 2011 @ 5:59 am


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