Sunday, 9 December 2012

Secret Lairs: Repulsion - Review

Roman Polański's movie Repulsion was made in 1965 and is a British production which represents a psychological horror genre.
Polański is a Polish-French director who was born in Paris but returned to Poland in 1937. His first movie made in his native country was  Knife in the Water (1962). Repulsion is his second movie made outside Poland, though the first one in Polański's carieed made in English language.
Repulsion tells a story of a girl named Carol (Catherine Deneuve) who suffers of an aversion towards men, and when her sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux) leaves for holiday, Carol's affliction becomes unstoppable.
Despite the fact that Repulsion is a black and white movie, it's visually stunning and satysfiyng. Behind the camera was Gilbert Taylor, a man who has worked with everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Stanley Kubrick to George Lucas. Smalley's quotation states the undeniable truth about how Polański created and planned the whole set and camera shots: "...Carole is left alone in the creaky, haunted apartment, our focus suddenly shifts from looking at Carole to seeing the world through her eyes." (Smalley, 2008); The viewer is introduced to Carol's insanity by her environment, not by her person, though certain behaviours in the beginning of the movie give a hint of possible mental disease Carol suffers from.  As her madness progresses the surroundings begin to change. Everything has its meaning; cracks in the walls are not accidential; the rooms becoming bigger might mean Carol's mind drifting away from the state of mental sanity. The image of a terryfying corridor in which Carol is being harassed by dead-alike hands sticking out of the walls became iconic. One would expect her to be truly terrified, though with every following event Carol seems to accept her fate and treats it as a normal state. The scene in which she uses a lipstick might be a key to realizing that she lost the fight for her mind and decided to silently welcome the madness.
Beside the horrifying images comes the music by Chico Hamilton. This is a mixture of typical horror sounds and disturbing silence, which pierce the audience's brains with its announcement of upcoming mental terror. The use and timing of completely muted scenes can be called a true masterpiece for the sound is exactly where it needs to be, building the tension and not letting the viewer rest even for a moment. This statement is consistent with Scheib's words: " Sound effects are used particularly well throughout" (Scheib, 2012); The lack of sound effects is even more terrifying as the viewer might not expect anything to happen because the music is not telling them to. The most dramatic scene of Carol being attacked by her tormentor happens in complete silence, acoompanied only by the sound of ticking clock. That's probably one of the reason why Repulsion has been called the true and convincing horror story, because just like in real life, no background music assists people during their lives.
A movie can be considered as a masterpiece when the viewer can watch it many times and remain surprised and interested. Repulsion is this kind of movie which uncovers more emotions and detail every time it's beeing watched. No matter how many times one sees Polański's movie, it always introduces the audience to different asspects of its significance, uncovering small details separately, giving different ideas of their meaning.  As Beckett states in the quotation: "Repulsion is a film that is absolutely startling on first viewing, but improves every time you watch it as you can try and distance yourself from the plot and concentrate on the direction and camerawork, so it is a film that works on different levels. " (Beckett), making the audience think and feel like the main character.
It is undoubtful that Polański's Repulsion is a work of a genius, and despite the shocking events of the director's personal life, he remains the iconic creator of the cinematic images, giving new generations inspiration and legacy filled with valuable and unique attributes.

* Smalley, G. (2008) online source:
* Scheib, Richard (2012) online source:
* Beckett, David; online source:
2. Stills:
* Poster:
* Still1:
* Still2:

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff! Your writing is improving with every review, Sam :) You should be encouraged - you're growing this skill too!