It seems we’re starting to lose a lot of great filmmakers this year. I’m still recovering from the recent death of Jacques Rivette and was hoping the world would see fit to leave it at that for a while, but alas, we have lost another truly iconic filmmaker. Readers of Mondo Exploito will no doubt be well versed in the cinematic legacy of Andrzej Żuławski. Unlike most horror fans, I was introduced to the films of Żuławski via his extraordinary debut film, The Third Part of the Night from 1971. This tense story set during the occupation of Poland in World War II was a powerful statement that displayed Żuławski’s ability to destabilize the viewer and subvert common narrative tropes. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend seeking it out.
It was ten years later when Żuławski would truly make his mark globally when he helmed his first English language film, Possession. There’s not much one can say about Possession that hasn’t already been said countless times before. It is one of the most singular cinematic statements in history and deserves its reputation as a classic. As a film caught up in the video nasty panic of the 80s, it developed a mystique that few other films on the infamous list had. The brilliantly unhinged performance of Isabelle Adjani alone would be enough to cement this film’s position, but Adjani is perfectly matched every step of the way by her supporting cast. If you live in a world where you have somehow not seen Possession, please use this as an excuse to do so immediately. I can assure you it is an unforgettable experience.
This is not intended to be an essay, but if you like Possession and have never further explored Żuławski’s filmography, please do so. Although Żuławski didn’t make a great number of films, he kept working up until 2015. He helped introduce the world to the rich tapestry of cinematic expression occurring in Eastern Europe and for that, I am personally very thankful.