Possession Information

Possession is a 2002 American/British romantic/mystery drama film written and directed by Neil LaBute, based on the novel of the same name by A. S. Byatt.


Two literary scholars, Roland Mitchell (Aaron Eckhart) and Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), search for the lost correspondence of Victorian era poets Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam) and Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle). Academics have long believed that the traditional and conservative Ash and the freethinking lesbian LaMotte were social enemies, but Mitchell and Bailey have independently discovered evidence that they were secretly lovers. When rival scholars become aware of their efforts, a race is on to unearth and publish the truth.



Early drafts of the film's screenplay were written by playwright David Henry Hwang in the nineties, but the project languished in pre-production for years (with directors like Sydney Pollack and Gillian Armstrong working on the film and eventually giving up) before LaBute came aboard. LaBute made drastic changes to the story, partially based on notes that Byatt had made on earlier drafts of the screenplay.

LaBute recalled, "What she basically said was, 'This is Roland on the page; you must make him different in a film!' She got that Roland needed more drive. Just seeing those notes kind of gave me the keys to the kingdom. And so in the film, Roland keeps making these wild, imaginative leaps about the poets' lives, and Maud's both charmed and appalled." LaBute changed Roland's nationality from British to American, in what he denied was "shameless pandering to the audience....in part, it was [just] more comfortable for me to write Roland that way."


Ralph Fiennes was approached for the role that eventually went to Jeremy Northam.


The film has been released on DVD with subtitles and captions.

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