RIP “POSSESSION” director Andrzej ZulawskiMovies/TV,News Michael Gingold
Just a day after word came down about a U.S. distribution deal with Kino Lorber for his new film COSMOS, the bad news arrived that Polish filmmaker/provocateur Andrzej Zulawski has died at age 75.
Zulawski made a number of films on many different subjects, but he will always be hailed by horror fans for his bizarre psychodrama POSSESSION. A study of extreme relationship dysfunction, mental breakdown, bloody violence and monster love starring Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill and featuring FX by ALIEN Oscar-winner Carlo Rambaldi, the film found its initial notoriety when it premiered at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival, where it was disparaged by many critics even as it won Adjani the fest’s Best Actress Award (shared with her film QUARTET). It was initially hacked down by more than 40 minutes for its 1983 U.S. theatrical release by Limelight International, but video exposure of Zulawski’s original vision won the movie greater appreciation in the 2000s, and it is frequently revived in repertory houses to this day.
Zulawski previously explored horrific territory with his second feature, 1972’s THE DEVIL, a period piece about a Polish nobleman who goes mad and becomes a serial killer following the Prussian invasion of his country; the movie was banned in the filmmaker’s homeland, which led him to relocate to France. He went on to make a number of unconventional and confrontational art-house films, including several starring his partner of 16 years, actress Sophie Marceau. He succumbed to cancer in a Warsaw hospital today, leaving behind a unique and transgressive screen legacy.