Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Film Review: Repulsion

The fifth film we watched from the ‘Unhomely’ film programme was Repulsion, which was directed by Roman Polanski and was released in 1965.

Fig. 1 Repulsion Poster
Repulsion is an interesting way in which Roman Polanski explores the psychological state of the human mind through the main character Carol, a French woman living in London.

One particular theme used that Polanski would later go on to use in both The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby is the use of a confined flat which slowly begins to play host to the characters insecurities and paranoia. One instance would be the cracks that begin appearing on the walls of the flat in which Carol lives. As 366 Wierd Movies describe:

"Cracks recur throughout Repulsion, and obviously symbolize Carole’s deteriorating mind.  Early on, Carole looks at a developing fissure in the apartment wall and muses, “I must get this crack mended”; much later on, a crack in her bedroom wall breaks open and draws her into a particularly nasty nightmare." (366 Weird Movies, 2008)

In Time's review it states:

"The crisis point is reached when the lovers leave for a holiday in Italy, abandoning the sexually repressed girl to her fantasies." (Time, 2008)

With her sister gone on holiday, Carol's already fragile mind is slowly deteriorating further as she stays in the flat by herself. At this point her insecurities of being a foreign girl in foreign country are likely taking root. When she mentions that she needs to fix the crack she may be inadvertently referring to herself, revealing she knows she needs help or for someone to be with her, particularly her sister. As the film progresses though she begins to seclude herself from life outside the flat and the cracks grow larger become more frequent revealing she is verging on being clinically insane.

Something that does peek interest is the difference between Repulsion and The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby particularly in the main character. As Kim Newman states:

"...Polanski locks us in with Carol from the first, forcing us to share her warped perceptions." (Newman, -)

What is interestingly different between Repulsion and The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby, is that from the start when we are introduced to Carol it is clear she suffers from her fears and paranoia whereas in the other two films this gradually builds up from the main characters normal lives. In repulsion we see Carol's state of mind worsen to a point where she kills two men. The fact that Carol starts of with this paranoia suggests she may have had a troubled or disturbed childhood which has resulted in her acting this way.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1 Polanski, Roman (1965) Repulsion Poster. At:
(Accessed on 15.12.10)


366 Wierd Movies (2008) Repulsion. At:
(Accessed on 15.12.10)

Time (2008) Cinema: A Maiden Beserk. At:,9171,842218,00.html
(Accessed on 15.12.10)

Newman, Kim (-) Repulsion. At:
(Accessed on 15.12.10)

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