Possession (2002)

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Released 16-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romance Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Neil LaBute (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 98:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:07) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Neil LaBute

Warner Home Video
Starring Gwyneth Paltrow
Aaron Eckhart
Jeremy Northam
Jennifer Ehle
Lena Headey
Toby Stephens
Trevor Eve
Tom Hickey
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Gabriel Yared

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Possession is based on A.S. Byatt's Booker Prize winning fictional novel Possession: A Romance. The basic plot is very simple, dealing with the lives of two couples, one set in the present day and the other set in the past around 1859. When present day poetry researcher Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) finds a letter written by 19th century poet Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam) to his mistress, his interest is piqued and he sets out on a mission to find out as much as possible about this previously unknown aspect of the famous poet's life. The search for information leads him to Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), a fellow researcher who is soon also caught up in solving the mystery. Meanwhile, back in the Victorian 19th century we follow the life of Ash and the development of his relationship with Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle) and also her relationship with her lover Blanche Glover (Lena Headey). The lives of these three are filled with passion but also with a great deal of sadness. As their story is uncovered by Maud and Roland, these two also follow a somewhat torturous path towards love.

    While the plot, to the best of my knowledge, is at least unique, unfortunately this is not enough to make the story or the movie as a whole particularly appealing. Aside from the fact that it is quite a slow-moving story, the plot completely failed to engross me. The lack of any chemistry between Aaron Eckhart and Gwyneth Paltrow was a great disappointment for me at least. Perhaps they were too caught up in the wounded nature of their characters to let any real passion through with Paltrow playing the slightly cold and closed-off Brit and Eckhart, the American, now avoiding relationships due to his previous bad experiences.

    This movie is going to have limited appeal to most people so unless what you've read of the plot fascinates you enough to want to view it I'd advise you to give it a miss.

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Transfer Quality


    This movie looks fantastic on the screen thanks to a sharp image and vivid colour. The only disappointment is the occasional appearance of edge enhancement.

    The picture is displayed in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement.

    As mentioned above the image is perfectly sharp and exhibits good shadow detail. Blacks are solid and there is no sign of any low level noise.

    A full colour palette is on display here and the perfectly saturated colours look absolutely fantastic on the screen. Skin tones are completely natural.

    MPEG artefacts were non-existent. Film to video artefacts were limited to some very minor and infrequent aliasing. As far as film artefacts are concerned, there was the odd small black mark but nothing more.

    There are plenty of subtitles options available as listed above. I watched about 10 minutes each of the English and English For The Hearing Impaired and can report that while they are not word perfect, the occasional missing word or words don't effect the story in any way. They are displayed in easily read white text and are well timed. The only criticism would be that they weren't placed, where possible, in the black bar at the bottom of the screen rather than over the picture.

    This RSDL disc has its layer change at 55:07 during Chapter 15. Even though it is placed in the middle of a scene, it utilises a quiet moment and is very quick. As such, it is noticeable but not really disruptive to the flow of the movie.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    While the audio transfer is flawless, as you might expect from the subject matter, this is not a soundtrack that you're going to use as demo material.

    Three Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks are provided, these being French, Italian and English. I listened to the default English audio and can report that you won't have to strain your ears during this movie as the dialogue was completely clear and easy to understand at all times. There were also no evident problems with the audio sync.

    Gabriel Yared's  musical score is fairly unobtrusive in nature but it does create an atmosphere which is in keeping with the overall mood of the story. The Director explains in his commentary how he is not a big user of music in his films and has made several in which no music at all is used.

    The surrounds are used only subtly in this mainly dialogue-driven movie to provide some ambience and to support the musical score.

    The subwoofer, having nothing to do, slept through the entire movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The only substantial extra is the Director's audio commentary.


    The menus are displayed in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement and the main menu features Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio. There is no animation.

Listing-Cast & Crew

    Nothing exciting here, simply a single page list.

Audio Commentary-Neil LaBute (Director)

    The Director speaks almost continuously about the characters and the actors' portrayals of them, the locations, the story and events that occurred during filming. In some ways, this was more interesting than the plot.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is displayed in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Except for many more subtitle options and the addition of Italian audio on the Region 4 disc, its contents are the same as the Region 1 release. I'd choose the R4 for the improved PAL resolution.


    Possession was not a movie that really managed to capture my attention and I think that its appeal to audiences in general will be limited.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are satisfactory.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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