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I first saw Possession sometime in the late eighties. It was on a dreary Saturday afternoon in my parents' living room. The family had by then virtually imploded and as I was left to my own devices in the soul-destroying, eerily deserted suburb we lived in I collided head-on with one of the most astonishing cinematographic oddity I have ever come across. By Żuławski I only knew L'Important c'est d'aimer, where the conflation of Romy Schneider's alluring beauty with the frenzy of psychotic orgies and the oppressive atmosphere of dilapidated, sealed off apartments had made a lasting impact on me. With Possession the excitement went up one notch and not only was Adjani's performance as a tentacular creature's lover going into convulsions in U-Bahn tunnels just as mind-blowing, it also found throughout the film its most intensely evocative correlation in the haunting presence of the streets and architectural setting of West Berlin. Possession had a point-of-no-return quality and remained a film of unremitting abandonment, yearning and dereliction.

The film conveys with compelling force the twisted otherworldliness of West Berlin during the years of division, the eastern part being menacingly present through intermittent glimpses of the Wall and the Death Strip lying beyond. I knew next to nothing about the place but the combined power of Bowie's 'Heroes', Meidner's apocalyptic paintings as well as Wenders' Wings of Desire had contributed to create a potent myth which would ultimately play its part in my decision to settle down there. Since then Possession has lurked at the back of my mind in my perception of Berlin whose intrinsic strangeness and strong erotic pull make for a very intoxicating brew. A city 'forever condemned to become but never to be', its 1981 incarnation is as far removed as can be from the international, vibrant metropolis it is once again striving to be. In its unique way the film evokes the stultifying stasis of a city teetering on the brink of psychotic meltdown and despair as it faces its unfathomable doppelgänger across the Wall, with the ultimate monstrosity lying at the heart of a horrific common history.

Berlincubus, which also aims at doing justice to a neglected, oft-derided piece of work - not least on account of its taste for metaphysical trash, over the top acting and gory overindulgence -, revolves around the theme of erotic transfiguration in the city, or more specifically the emergence of extreme forms of desire in a place deserted by traditional institutional, economic functions and conventional modes of spatial appropriation. The character of Anna is the prime vector of the questioning and radical disruption of all norms governing female desire, social organisation and the control of urban space. Her untrammelled circulation in the city takes place amongst the spectacular space-age architecture of the time that gave West Berlin the appearance of a deserted, futuristic wilderness poised for an ever delayed journey to nowhere. This collusion of desire and place is then transposed into a contemporary, reunified and critically reconstructed Berlin by addressing the possibility of such subversion in the resumption of its role as a world-class capital now fully abiding by the rules of the global capitalist game.

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