Tuesday, 17 November 2015

SPACE ODDITIES: Repulsion (1965)

Fig.1. 'Repulsion' Poster
Roman Polanski's, 'Repulsion' (1965) is an uncomfortably artistic movie, packed full of metaphorical imagery. With a story that uses a piercing soundtrack to create a looming sense of tension whilst thrusting impactful scenes upon audiences that are hard to watch. 

This review will look at the way in which scenery and character are used throughout the film to convey meaning and help the narrative of the story.

Fig.2. Film Still

'The Nightmare she creates for herself is one of the most bizarre hallucinations and jolts; the 'assault' scene played out to the amplified ticking clock; The sudden giant cracks she imagines on swings on a light' (Bradshaw, 2013)

These hallucinations are what drive the films narrative. Throughout the entirety of the movie we see, Carol, played by actress Catherine Deneuve, tormented by her inner demons. Teetering on the edge of reality, her story is portrayed via wild imaginings, vile ones to say the least.
But it's the subtle yet clearly obvious ones that stand out most. As Carol switches on a light within her apartment, a sudden crack appears in the wall. These cracks metaphorically resembling elements of Carol's sanity. She is having breakdown. We see her gradually losing all sense of reality. 
It's as if her home (the apartment) and herself have become one. Her apartment being her mental state in a physical form, cracking, rotting away and losing sense of what is right and wrong.

Fig.3. Film Still

In Bosley Crowther's NY Times movie review, her states, 'The Dressed Carcass of a rabbit on a platter becomes a monstrous symbol as the picture goes along'  (Crowther, 1965) 

The carcass of a rabbit is prominent within the film. Slowly but surely rotting away. Yet again, another metaphor of Carol's mind. A sense of decaying and death, something that is greatly looked upon after two men are killed by her. This subtle use of imagery shows the amount of time that has passed, the amount of time it has taken for Carol to become so distant from reality.

And the hands, who could forget the hands, literally piercing the walls of reality. 
As Carol walks down the darkened corridor of her apartment masculine hands forcefully make their way into shot, revoltingly grabbing at Carol.
All sense of sanity have been diminished at this point. Just like the rabbit, they are dead and gone. 

'One loses count of the number of times the degenerating character's psychotic solitude is interrupted by the ring telephone, always shown in the same close-up camera angle' (Biodrowski, 2009)
Steve Biodrowski's 'Repulsion' review looks at the way in which the telephone is used throughout the film.The ringing telephone, a central location within her home, the phone works an anchor of reality pulling Carol down, every time that it rings, a connection to reality is being opened, taking her away from the mad hallucinations she is having. 
Overcome by her insanity, she cuts the cord to the telephone, cutting all ties with bother reality and the outside world. Her apartment is her playground, a small one at that. A real sense of claustrophobia can be felt, the use of black and white throughout the film really helps this. The dark corners of each  of the rooms are emphasised by this simple, yet highly effective cinematic look. What monster is lurking within them. The corners of Carol's mind.

Finally 'Repulsion' showcases a great use of sound. For example, there is a scene in which we see Carol walking down the street, during this time drums can be heard. A constant beating and metronomic rhythm playing out in what seems to be her mind. A focus, taking her mind of the world around her. Like a marching band she walks to the beat of the drum, keeping her sanity in check.

Some scenes are imprinted within the minds of the viewer. It's purpose is to create a sense of emotional unbalance for both the viewer and the actors on screen, which it does in abundance. 'Repulsion' is a film that will be hard to forget.


Biodrowski, S. (2009) 'Repulsion (1965)- Horror Film Review' At:http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2009/07/repulsion-1965-horror-film-review/ Accessed on: 17-11-2015

Bradshaw, P (2013) 'Repulsion-Review' At:http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jan/03/repulsion-review Accessed on: 17-11-2015

Crowther, B. (1965) 'Repulsion' At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF1739E471BC4C53DFB667838E679EDE Accessed on: 17-11-2015


Figure 1. 'Repulsion (1965)' [Poster] At: http://40.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lqrnm7TFkA1qzzsdjo1_1280.jpg Accessed on: 17-11-2015

Figure 2. [Film Still] At: http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/repulsion/repulsion_shot25l.jpg Accessed on: 17-11-2015

Figure 3. [Film Still] At: https://wondersinthedark.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/900_repulsion_4.jpg Accessed on: 17-11-2015

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tom - lots of nice observations here - the telephone working like 'an anchor'... But give this review another once-over... there's a bad case of missing possessive apostrophes *Carols mind* instead of 'Carol's mind' and I think your first quote is missing some letters and words...

    Also a style tip: you're tending to 'float' your quotes, and while you then refer to the idea of the quote in the paragraph that follows, it's better stylistically to integrate your quotes into the flow of your paragraph. So, for example, 'As B**** Crowther observes in his New York Times review at the time of the film's release, "The dressed carcass of a rabbit on a platter...."