Thursday, June 25, 2009

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Directed By Andrzej Żuławski

This was my first experience with Zulawski (and thank god because the next film I saw by him is the even more difficult, even more bizarre "On The Silver Globe" and "Diabel").
This film however floored me instantly. People can and will mention the intensity of all the performances, the swirling cinematography which moves constantly even as the characters remain static, and the bizarre ridiculousness of the situations these characters find themselves in.Anyone watching this movie would be hard pressed not to laugh at quite a few scenes, some of which are intentionally funny, others merge grotesquery, absurdity, and intensity to such a degree that it's imposable not to laugh out of discomfort.The story also is not a kitchen sink affair, but a surreal examination of division and breakdown.
The setting is west Berlin, a divided city, and we are introduced to our characters a divided couple whose marriage is in smolders, Sam Niels character has some shadowy job with the government and he's been "away at the war", while his wife has seemingly lost all control over her life due to an obsessive affair with...(SPOILERALERT)...a slimy tentacled creature which resembles an scaly abortion with the head of a carrot, like the baby from "Eraserhead" had they let it grow up and reproduce with the sentient pile of zombie intestines from "Dead Alive".::SpoilerOver::
Meanwhile, Sam Niels character grows more and more suspicious and begins an affair with his sons school teacher who is also played by Issabell Adanji, and is essentially the opposite(or other) of Sam Niels wife's character, calm, sweet, dependable and loving, to manic, maddening, unstable and lustful.
To prevent her other lovers, policemen, and curious parties from finding out about her relationship which she describes as beautiful for its "otherness", Adjani(as Niels wife) kills several people leaving their corpses spread about her flat.
Sam Niel, after one knock-out emotional performance after another, discovers the horrible truth. His wife was pregnant and miscarried(in a disturbingly powerful scene where she menstruates milk in a dimly lit subway), and gave birth to a "thing", which she took back to an apartment and fed until it became the tentacle creature, who she then took up as her lover(shown in another disturbing erotic scene).
Niel's character is horrified, and flees, until the two catch up with him them and the creature is revealed in his fully grown form (which is played by Sam Niel, just as Adjani had dual roles), the creature smiles, and appears to be invulnerable as a hail of police bullets cut down Niel(human) and his wife, but don't seem to affect the creature.
The creature then returns to the couples home, where their other young son repeats "don't open the door" and hides under his bed, as his teacher(also Adjani) screams in terror as the creature stands outside the door screaming and causing the house to shake and bright lights to appear which eventually overwhelm the camera and we have the end.So yeah, there is some intense performances, monster sex, and a story that feels more like Franz Kafka, bare desperate human emotions displayed through inhuman events and surreal happenings, more than Clive Barker(who was very influenced by this film).
It's difficult to nail down precise meanings, and there are no polemical points or tragic flaws, it seems as if both characters have their angels and demons, and all that is assured in the end is destruction."Possession: The Night The Screaming Stopped" is a one of a kind horror film full of psychological bends and monstrous gore, it's a story of a relationship divided, a nation divided, and an eternal divide between the "self" and the "other", that gives us our God's and monsters, as well as our repulsions and attractions.
It is absolutely not a demonization of "woman" as destroyer, as the dual roles suggest that no one is A. whole in any sense of the word and B. free of guilt.
There are few horror films which are really this good (too smart for their own good, because this will largely sail over your head if your not watching closely, a good deal hinges on a one off sentence roughly about God having pink socks, and a man with pink socks showing up later, albiet breifly in the film).
Very hard to find, Netflix doesn't carry it, but those of you in the Los Angeles area, might try Eddie Brandts Saturday Matinee in North Hollywood(just off the Orange Line), that's where I found a copy as well as many other hard to find films.
Happy hunting.

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