“Repulsion” is a psychological thriller directed by Roman Polanski and released in 1965. It was the Polish director’s first English-language film and gained wide notoriety for its disturbing depiction of psychosis.
The film tells the story of Carol Ledoux, played by Catherine Deneuve, a young woman of Belgian origin who lives in London. Carol is an introverted and seemingly fragile woman, who shows signs of mental disorders. When the sister she lives with leaves on a vacation, Carol is left alone in the apartment and begins to experience increasingly intense hallucinations and nightmares.
The plot of the film focuses on Carol’s sexual insecurity and revulsion towards men. Her fears and obsessions manifest themselves through disturbing visions and delusions, which gradually lead her to madness. Polanski deftly uses black-and-white photography and soundtrack to create a claustrophobic and eerie atmosphere.
“Repulsion” is regarded as a classic of psychological cinema and helped solidify Polanski’s reputation as an innovative filmmaker. The film explores recurring themes in his later work, such as the fragility of the human psyche and the blurred line between reality and madness.
Catherine Deneuve’s performance in “Repulsion” was praised for her ability to convey Carol’s character’s unease and descent into insanity. The film garnered critical acclaim and helped launch the international careers of both Polanski and Deneuve.
“Repulsion” remains a landmark film in the thriller genre and influenced many later filmmakers. His raw and disturbing depiction of the human mind continues to spark public interest and discussion to this day.
The plot of “Repulsion” revolves around the protagonist Carol Ledoux, played by Catherine Deneuve. Carol is a young woman who lives in London with her sister Helen. From the very beginning of the film, signs of mental instability and a general revulsion towards human contact, particularly towards men, emerge.
When Helen goes on a romantic getaway with her boyfriend, Carol is left alone in the apartment. Her loneliness and fear of abandonment begin to intensify, and Carol faces a series of hallucinations and visions that distort her perception of reality.
As the days go by, Carol becomes more and more alienated from the outside world. She refuses to leave the house and the apartment becomes a claustrophobic place, filled with terrifying fantasies and nightmares. The walls crack, invisible hands emerge from the walls and objects seem to come to life. Carol’s tension and anguish reach a fever pitch when a plumber tries to break into the apartment to make repairs.
Her revulsion towards men manifests itself in a violent way when Carol becomes a victim of her hallucinations and attacks a man who tries to seduce her. The film explores Carol’s deep inner fears, her traumatic past experiences and the descent into madness that follows.
“Repulsion” is a psychological immersion into Carol’s mental chaos and emotional isolation. The film explores themes of mental disorders, repressed sexuality and violence. Roman Polanski skillfully uses cinematography, score and sound effects to create an atmosphere of growing tension, in which the viewer is drawn into Carol’s disturbed psyche.
The plot of “Repulsion” develops in a crescendo of suspense and psychological terror, leading the viewer to reflect on the blurred line between reality and hallucination, and on the profound consequences of unhealed emotional wounds.
“Repulsion” features a few key characters:
Carol Ledoux (played by Catherine Deneuve): She is the protagonist of the film, a young woman tormented by mental problems and repulsion towards men. She lives in emotional isolation and faces disturbing hallucinations and visions that drive her insane.
Helen Ledoux (played by Yvonne Furneaux): She is Carol’s older sister and flatmate in London. Helen is more outgoing and has an active love life. She leaves for a vacation with her boyfriend, leaving Carol alone, and becomes the object of the latter’s hallucinations.
Michael (played by Ian Hendry): He is Helen’s lover and appears in the film mainly through hallucinations of Carol. His presence represents the sexual threat and repressed desire Carol feels towards men.
Colin (played by John Fraser): He is a young tenant of the apartment next to Carol’s. He takes an interest in her and tries to approach her, but is rejected. Colin becomes another source of hallucinations and fear for Carol.
Carol’s father (played by Patrick Wymark): Appears only in a brief flashback sequence, but his sexual abuse of Carol in the past seems to have triggered her revulsion towards men.
In addition to these main characters, there are also some supporting characters that appear in the sequences outside Carol’s flat, such as friends, neighbors and people on the streets of London. However, the film mostly focuses on Carol’s mind and her experiences inside the apartment, creating a sense of claustrophobia and isolation.
“Repulsion” was directed by Polish director Roman Polanski and produced by Compton Films. It was Polanski’s first English-language film, and he later achieved great success as an international director.
Production of the film began in 1964 and took place mainly in London, UK. The limited budget led to a minimalist production approach, with the use of only one main set, Carol’s apartment.
Polanski collaborated closely with cinematographer Gilbert Taylor to create the film’s claustrophobic atmosphere. They used lighting techniques and camera angles to accentuate Carol’s character’s sense of alienation and insanity.
The soundtrack for “Repulsion” was composed by Chico Hamilton and features an experimental use of sound. Ambient noises and sound effects help heighten the emotional tension and emphasize Carol’s disturbed state of mind.
The film was critically well received and garnered numerous accolades, cementing Polanski’s reputation as an innovative and daring filmmaker. ‘Repulsion’ is regarded as a turning point in her career and laid the foundation for her later psychological films like ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Tenant’.
Despite its impact and lasting influence in the psychological thriller genre, ‘Repulsion’ has also been the subject of controversy due to legal charges leveled against Roman Polanski in the years following its release.
Distribution and Reception
‘Repulsion’ was released in theaters in 1965. The film elicited a mix of reactions from both critics and audiences upon its release.
Critically, “Repulsion” received praise for its audacity and its disturbing depiction of psychosis. Catherine Deneuve’s performance was particularly praised, as was Roman Polanski’s direction and his ability to create tension and atmosphere through the use of photography and soundtrack. The film was praised for its exploration of themes of repressed sexuality, alienation and the descent into madness.
However, the film has also met with some resistance and controversy due to its disturbing content and explicit imagery. Some critics found it overly violent and alarming. Despite this, ‘Repulsion’ has managed to gain a cult following over the years due to its uniqueness and provocative vision.
Audience-wise, “Repulsion” didn’t achieve major commercial success upon its release, but it has become a cult film and gained an increasingly solid reputation over the next few years.
Today, “Repulsion” is generally regarded as one of Polanski’s masterpieces and one of the best psychological films ever made. He has influenced numerous subsequent directors in the psychological thriller genre and is often cited as a point of reference for his disturbing portrayal of the human psyche.
Despite the controversies involving Roman Polanski over the years, the film continues to be appreciated for its artistic qualities and its impact on the cinematographic landscape.
The style of “Repulsion” is a key element that contributes to its claustrophobic and disturbing atmosphere. Roman Polanski uses a number of cinematic techniques to immerse the viewer in the troubled psyche of the character Carol. Here are some of the stylistic elements present in the film:
Black and White Photography: The film is shot entirely in black and white, which adds to the dark and surreal atmosphere. The use of light-dark contrast accentuates shadows and detail, increasing visual tension and the sense of tightness.
Unusual shots and angles: Polanski uses unusual shots and awkward angles to emphasize Carol’s state of mind. Use low-angle shots or Carol’s point of view to bring out her distorted and disorienting perspective.
Fragmented Edit: The montage of “Repulsion” is characterized by fragments and rapid cuts that contribute to the feeling of confusion and unease. Time jumps and dream sequences help mix reality and fantasy, adding to the sense of foreboding.
Sound effects and soundtrack: The soundtrack of “Repulsion” is characterized by a combination of oppressive silences and distorted sounds. Sound effects, such as ticking clocks, mechanical noises and distorted voices, amplify Carol’s tension and paranoia.
Symbolic visual details: Polanski uses symbolic visual details to communicate Carol’s state of mind. For example, the cracks that form on the walls of Carol’s apartment symbolize her fractured mind, while the hands that emerge from the walls represent her fears and hallucinations.
The use of these stylistic elements creates a distressing and disturbing atmosphere, which highlights the fragility of the human psyche and the blurred line between reality and madness. “Repulsion” is distinguished by its ability to convey discomfort and immerse the viewer in the disturbed mind of the main character.
The director of “Repulsion” is Roman Polanski. Born August 18, 1933 in Paris, France, Polanski is a Polish director, screenwriter and actor. He is regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of his generation and has made a string of critically acclaimed and successful films.
Polanski began his film career in the 1960s and became known for his films exploring human psychology, violence and alienation. “Repulsion”, his first English-language film, marked a turning point in his career and opened the doors of international cinema for him.
Subsequently, Polanski directed several successful films, including ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968), ‘Chinatown’ (1974), ‘Tess’ (1979), ‘The Pianist’ (2002) and ‘The Ghost Writer’ (2010) . He has received numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Director for ‘The Pianist’.
Polanski’s filmography is characterized by compelling storytelling, attention to detail and a strong ability to create intense and disturbing atmospheres. His films often explore themes such as paranoia, guilt, corruption and the descent into madness. Polanski is known for his ability to manipulate the viewer’s emotions through the use of visual and narrative techniques.
Roman Polanski’s career has also been marked by personal controversies, including a sexual abuse allegation that sparked debate about him and impacted his life and filmmaking. Despite the controversies, Polanski remains one of the most influential directors and recognized in contemporary cinema.