Sunday, 12 December 2010


Director: Roman Polanski
Producer: Hercules Bellville
Cast: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet, Bernard Fresson.
Year: 1976

Based on the 1964 novel  Le locataire chimerique, The Tenant is once again a psychological horror film directed by the genius Roman Polanski and is part of his Apartment Trilogy including Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion. His films are mostly violent and disturbing- a real trip into the abyss of the mind. Like he mentioned: "You have to show violence the way it is. If you don't show it realistically, then that's immoral and harmful. If you don't upset people, then that's obscenity." (R.Polanski). Polanski himself is the main character of this film and plays the role of Trelkofsky, a quiet foreign man who moves into a new apartment in Paris recently vacated by a woman who committed suicide by jumping out of the window. He visited the injured woman in the hospital who was covered in bandages from head to toe. When she faces him she lets out a loud unexplainable cry which was a mystery until the end of the film (FIG.2). During his time in Paris he realises he was being put off for his accent by the Parisians which was probably inspired by real events he went through. Polanski actually argued after spending a period of his life in Paris that: "In Paris, one is always reminded of being a foreigner. If you park your car wrong, it is not the fact that it's on the sidewalk that matters, but the fact that you speak with an accent." (R.Polanski)
Soon enough Trelkofsky is driven mad thinking that the rest of the people in the building want him dead like the previous owner. He then starts to follow her footsteps- dressing up as a woman,(FIG.4) going through weird hallucinations and finally throwing himself out of the window as well. The Tenant offers a quirky plot that bounces from one bizarre encounter to another. As the film flows slowly Polanski is introducing us to a man's journey into insanity which ends into a tragedy."Polanski´s direction is brilliant as always, he doesn´t rush anything here allowing the characters to go about their business and subtly building in a growing sense of unease." (Hill:2006)
Like in his other two films from the Apartment Trilogy the environment takes place is in an apartment. This time the apartment offers less space which makes it even more claustrophobic, whereas the big window,which faces the rest of the flats is Trelofsky's connection with all his unexplainable visions of ghostly forms- like watching himself in the window staring at him(FIG.3) or a mummy unwrapping itself opposite his apartment. A tooth found hidden in the one of the apartment's walls or strange visions of hieroglyphics in the bathroom was also what he was confronted with . The same was repeated whenever he was looking through the bathroom window as there was always someone there standing motionless, looking straight back at him.

Other than the plot and the events followed in the story, Polanski as the director of the film has a lot to offer. In the internal of the house Polanski uses mostly close ups to emphasize the claustrophobic environment but when it comes to the external he uses panoramic view which adds a hint of drama to the the whole scenery. The constant use of shadows and dark corners makes the apartment even more narrow and uncomfortable.
What makes Polanski's films so special is the fact that he plays around with reality as we experience the world through Trelkofski's eyes but at times he reveals the difference between them which makes it more confusing. It can also be described as a humorous exploration of the line between madness and sanity.

Polanski R. quote (accessed 12/12/2010)
Polanski R. quote (accessed 12/12/2010)
Hill Simon(2006) Film Review 12/12/2010)

List of illustrations
FIG.1: Film Poster (accessed 12/12/2010)
FIG.2: Film Still 12/12/2010)
FIG.3: Film Still 12/12/2010)
FIG.4: Film Still 12/12/2010)


  1. Hey Andriana - insightful review :D It's just a shame you don't give a date for the Polanksi quotes - because they're great! Strictly speaking, if you can't give a publishing date etc., you shouldn't really use it, because it's not reputable. Anyway you could track down the original source?

    Also - picky, picky, picky - watch your formatting - you've got some different fonts going on here, and some typos too. Give this review a few minute's polish - for example:


    should be


  2. WHOAH! Some phrases make completely no sense! Not sure what happened there! i'll have a look through..oh! and as for the quotes I couldn't really find an original source of them even though i kept finding the same ones in a lot of websites. Do you think I should get rid of them?