Sunday, 6 December 2015

Repulsion 1965 Film Review

Fig 1.
Roman Polanski's 1965 film Repulsion is about a young, attractive woman, who is petrified of any kind of sexual contact with men. But by being an attractive woman, she draws a lot of attention. Throughout the film we can see the main character,  Carol, being taken through, what would be normal experience for most people, but in her case very distressing and almost petrifying experiences of getting attention from the opposite sex. It is never properly stated but you get the idea that she had a mental illness which is more then likely the route to her issues. This point is backed up from a quote by Barbara Shulgasser when talking about Carol " at first, seems merely shy, then anti-social and finally morbidly frightened of human contact."(Barbara Shulgasser 1998). We can see this develop throughout the film as her repulsion builds up in a way in some scenes that are very disturbing to watch.
Fig 2.
During the film Carols sister, Helen leaves Carol in their apartment a lone while she goes on holiday with her boyfriend. It is during this period of time that we can truly see Carols mental illness starting to come out and how it is effecting her. One way in which we can see this is when in the apartment at times Carol has hallucinations of the walls cracking and the apartment falling apart from the inside. (See fig 2.) This can be taken in different ways. For starters it is one of the signs to the viewers that there is an underlying issue with Carols mental health. It could also be said that the cracks, which progressively get worse throughout the film, could be representing Carols deteriorating mental health and is an insight to the viewers to inform them how it is progressing. This can bring a different kind of fear to viewers unlike the common horror film. It is more of a disturbing fear. Rather being the one to make you jump out of your seat you will more likely sink into your seat in discomfort. As Peter Bradshaw said "the sudden, giant cracks she imagines on switching on a light – they always creep me out with a thoroughness that run-of-the-mill horror movies never achieve."(Peter Bradshaw 2013)

Fig 3.

Another way in which Polanski represents Carols mental health deteriorating throughout the film is from the way in which throughout the story she has two main encounters with men that stand out for obvious reasons. The first one takes place with a man named Colin, who is her admire and wishes to take Carol out. When Colin turns up at Carols apartment and forces his way in when she is not responding to him. His intentions are good but unfortunately for him Carols mental state was in no condition for an event like this to happen and she reacts by striking him over the head with a candle stick and this results in Colin dying and Carol putting him in the bath tub. One of the more disturbing factors of this altercation is the way in which she shows no remorse for what she had done, as if she had not just killed someone. This is not the only occasion an incident such as this takes place within a short period of time. Shortly after what happened to Colin, Carols landlord comes to inspect her apartment after noticing the door is broken due to the incident with Colin. From this the landlord tries to complain about the late rent cheques and this turns into him trying to sexually assault her. This is one of Carols worst fears and you can see this come out as she grabs a shaving razor and cuts him several times in an attack fuelled by fear which results in the landlord being killed.
Fig 4.
Overall Repulsion has the ability to make a whole room feel uncomfortable while watching the film but at the same time you would not want to stop watching. The way Polanski uses the graphics scenes which are somewhat questionable, such as Carols nightmares of being sexually assaulted in her own bed every night, is one of the main ways in which he conveys this feeling of unsteadiness. Another way in which this is conveyed and gives the film such an eerie feel is personally for me is Catherine Deneuve's performance as Carol. She plays the part so well with the way in which her stares of fear can really draw in the viewers and she conveys what her character should be feeling extremely clearly and effectively. As said by Simon Miraudo " The young Catherine Deneuve (she was 22 at the time of filming) gives a performance so unsettling and so precise"(Simon Miraudo 2010).


Shulglasser, B 1998, SF Gate -

Bradshaw, P 2013, The Guardian -

 Miraudo, S 2010, Quickflix -

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