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Possession

Possession Possession is a 2002 motion picture based on the novel of the same name by A. S. Byatt. The film relates the story of two scholars who uncover details of a passionate love affair between two 19th Century English poets. Their exploration of the past breaks down the defensive barriers of their intellectuality and awakens a flame of real emotional intensity. The movie contrasts the social barriers that constrained the relationship between two poets with the psychological barriers that restrain their modern counterparts.

 

Articles on Possession
Maud and Roland’s relationship shows an excellent example of Conflict in Level 2 in the Scale of Romance. Read more and watch video. See the article and videos.
Roland’s abstinence awakens a deeper relationship between them that melts the defensive barriers and leads them to a discovery about themselves. Read about it in the article Love, Romance, Sex & Marriage and watch videos. See the article and videos.
Read more and ask questions about this movie in the Movie Forums.

 

Plot Summary

Maud Bailey, English poetry professor in her 30s, meets Roland Michell, an American scholar who travels to London on a fellowship. He has yet to break out from under his mentor's shadow until he finds a pair of love letters in the textbook that once belonged to one of his idols, a famous long dead Victorian poet Randolph Henry Ash. Michell, after some sleuthing around, finds out that the letters were not written to his wife but another well known Victorian poet, Christabel LaMotte. Roland enlists the aid of a Dr. Maud Bailey, an expert on the life of the LaMotte. Together they strive to unravel the secret romance between Victorian poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte.

Neither of the moderns seem made for love and certainly not for each other. They are opposites bordering on contradictions. Bailey is guarded, stiff, irritable, almost frigid British academic, who wants to be addressed as Professor and has a prejudice against all things American. Suspicious of any man’s sexual intentions and eager to avoid relationships, she conceals her beauty to avoid attracting attention to herself. Roland is a casual, friendly, irreverent American who distains British formality. He has had enough of unfulfilling and sometimes hurtful relationships centered around sex and is leery of any intimacy.

As they uncover details of the passionate love affair between Ash and LaMotte, the poetry of that relationship infiltrates their cold hearts and awakens a flame of real emotional intensity. Maud’s heart melts and she feels tempted by the lure of sexual relationship. Uncharacteristically, it is Roland who pulls back for fear of spoiling a relationship he has come to value far more than physical pleasure. Maud feels confused and rejected. Her old fears and suspicions of intimate relationship resurface and they quarrel, yet the real basis for their quarrel is their deeper emotional attraction to one another which ultimately prevails. Delving beneath their surface differences, they discover bonds of genuine attraction and admiration that elevate the whole relationship to a far higher level..

 

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Directed by Neil LaBute
Written by A.S.Byatt (Book),Samuel Taylor(Original play),
Barbara Benedek and David Rayfiel(Screenplay)
Starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Maud Bailey, Aaron Eckhart as Roland Michell,
Jeremy Northam as Randolph Henry Ash, Jennifer Ehle as Christabel LaMotte
Copyright belongs to USA Films and Warner Bros. Pictures

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