Żuławski’s Possession

The return to a childlike state. The return of a child.
The dissolution of a marriage not into passive-aggressive bickering but delirious, violently disturbed hysterics. Not brought on simply by sexual impropriety but actually the loss of a child, the accidental drowning of Bob which each are blaming themselves and each other for.

Bob is often show in the bathtub, diving under the surface. In the final scene he jumps, fully clothed, into the tub and floats face-down as if dead. Previously, there are arguments about who will take care of Bob. There is distrust in each other’s abilities. There is a moment when Mark finds Bob alone, neglected.

Mark had been away for a while. The “affair” had begun a year ago. He wasn’t around, wasn’t there for Anna or Bob. Anna has been pursuing her own pleasures, neglecting family life. She has a friend, Margit, who Mark despises. Is it because she has taken Anna away from her responsibilities? Margit has a leg in a cast, a symbol of a lack of caution, recklessness or instability? Does Anna ultimately kill her because she is another to blame?

Many times Mark mentions a dog who died under the porch. The dog is childlike in it’s inability to take care of itself. There is the image of a dog drowned, floating downriver. Mark mentions that he crawled under the porch, to see what made the dog do it. He mentions the dog yelping in its final moments. He is told he has to stop thinking so much about dead dogs.

Anna’s lover Henrik as a projection from Mark, what he thinks he should be, what he worries Anna wants. Henrik lets things happen, lets things go.  Mark is unable to accept that Bob has died in an accident and that they will have to continue on despite this. After Henrik has found what Anna has done and seen the monster, Mark tells him  “You’re learning how to suffer.” Mark’s first murder is Henrik, drowned in a way that is meant to look accidental. Taking responsibility for death? A fantasized suicide?

Anna wants another child, as a way of bringing back Bob. She is making love with a monster – a creation, an idealized Mark without the history. In the tunnel, when she breaks down, the miscarriage. The loss of “faith” but “chance” survived. A loss of faith in God because of what happened to them, to Bob, but a belief in a second chance, another child to bring their family back together as whole again. Before they make love on the floor of the bathroom she says to Mark “Do you believe in God? It’s in me.” Mark says “For me, God is still under the porch where the dog died.” After, they plot their next moves, an escape, but Bob appears in the doorway like a ghost and they break down again.

The schoolteacher as Mark’s idealized Anna, again without the the history. Always dressed in white. An image of the afterlife? Her entire existence in Bob’s life, as a schoolteacher, is one in which she takes care of her. Her life, her job, in the moments they are together is one of total maternal care. In the end, when Mark knows he cannot continue, that he cannot return from where he is going, he gives Bob to her. Letting Bob go, continuing to an afterlife – her apartment?


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