Thursday, 9 December 2010


Director: Roman Polanski
Producer: Gene Gutowski
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser,Yvonne Furneaux
Year: 1965

Roman Polanski once again leaves his mark with this all-time horror movie classic Repulsion, one of his "Apartment Collection Trilogy" followed by The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby which explores the psychological and supernatural threats to apartment dwellers. This film could be a realistic study of a person who slowly, step-by-step slips into madness. Carol (C.Deneuve) is a young Belgian woman who lives with her sister in an English apartment. Being abused as a child,as we are later informed by the film, Carol suffers from androphobia(fear of men) and fears any sexual connection with them. Throughout the film we get introduced to Carol's insanity and witness her violent outbursts towards men who she ends up killing them in her own apartment. In terms of length, the film is quite slow but not just for any reason. It gradually generates a horrific and dark atmosphere that engrosses the viewer into Carol's sick world. Like the fact that Carol finds men repulsive is proven through her reaction towards her sister's husband's objects like the razor and the T-shirt.
FIG.2  Carol in the bathroom
It's obvious how the film is following Carol the whole time as it begins with a zoom out of her eyes (FIG.3)and ends with a zoom into them(FIG.4) in the family photo where she's tilting her head towards a man -her possible rapist. "Repulsion never makes explicit whether Carol was a victim of sexual abuse and yet we're constantly faced with Carol's... repulsion... toward men."(Nathaniel R.2006). This prepares the viewer for a purely subjective tale where Carol is the centre of of the film. None of the events witnessed happened in reality but they did happen in Carol's mind.


Polanski uses a variety of visual and aural effects to suggest the inner tornment Carol suffers. As she was left alone in the apartment when her sister left for a trip to Italy, she was coming across some hallucinations like: cracks on the walls, hands groping from walls(FIG.5), experiencing a traumatic rape moment every time the school bell rang, or leaving an uncooked rabbit to rot overtime. The rotting rabbit (FIG.5) could symbolise Carol's growing insanity or a recorder of her nightmarish journey.


Polanski also uses a lot of everyday sound effects which are not disturbing to us but are Carol's nightmare."Polanski builds suspense unbearably with the accretion of detail in long, slow, silent fades. Sound effects are used particularly well throughout – there are long stretches with no dialogue, just the banal noises of Catherine Deneuve moving about the house."  (Sheib.1999) Like in Rosemary's Baby Polanski uses the sound of someone practising the piano scales and the fast ticking noise to assist the panicking scenes. Polanski also expresses through this film how frustrating it is to live in an apartment with all the sound pollution going on. Other than that it is obvious how Carol feels anxious when she hears her sister's lovemaking sounds from next door. Even the presence of a man in her apartment makes her feel uncomfortable.

In conclusion, Repulsion is undoubtedly the best-known which documents the solitude of insanity for those outside looking in. It's timeless and still amazes the audience even today when people expect a lot from horror films."Within the maelstrom of violence and horror in this film, Mr. Polanski has achieved a haunting concept of the pain and pathos of the mentally deranged. He has delivered undoubtedly one of the best films of the year."( Crowther.1965)


  1. Nathanietl R.(2006) Film Review (accessed 9/12/2010)
  2. Richard Sheib(1999) Film Review (accessed 9/12/2010)
  3. Bosley Crowther(1965) Film Review 9/12/2010)

List of Illustrations 
FIG.1: Film Poster 8/12/2010)
FIG.2: Film Still (accessed 8/12/2010)
FIG.4: Screenshot from youtube 9/12/2010)
FIG.5: Film Still 9/12/2010)

Note to Phil:
I want to make sure I am approaching those film reviews right in terms of structure and analysis. Are they too short or out of the question? I don't want to screw them up again :(


  1. Hey Andriana - I don't think you 'screwed up' exactly (I guess you're talking about your written assignment, right?). This review is very good - not too short, and all content-based - good. The point about your written assignment is simply that you didn't address the right conceptual emphasis; what you wrote about the character development etc, in Spirited Away wasn't devoid of merit or intelligence, it was just 'beside' the topic in question. If you base your research and structure around the essay criteria provided with each brief - use it to ensure you're on message - then you'll be fine; for instance, with the uncanny essay, it's obvious that first you just introduce and define the concept of the uncanny before using it as analytical took for 'unpacking' something else - if you satisfy that essay criteria given, you can't go too far wrong!

    Don't be disheartened, Andriana - your first year is all about this experience of trying things, trying again, refining your style, growing on your awareness of culture and concepts, and becoming increasingly sophisticated. It takes time and application and engagement - and you're obviously engaged with the course, so I'm not worried about you or your development in the slightest. You are 'switched on', Andriana - now, you also need to be very focused, and very professional and a formidable project manager... You'll be fine - better than fine! :D

  2. sorry -

    before using it as analytical *tool* for 'unpacking' something else -