Repulsion (1965) 50th Anniversary – Part 2 – Catherine Deneuve + Ian Hendry + John Fraser + Yvonne Furneaux (dir. Roman Polanski)
Picture above: Ian Hendry and Yvonne Furneaux
This is Part 2 of 3 articles paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of Repulsion (1965)
In Part 2 of this 50th anniversary tribute to Repulsion, we look in more detail at the films essential elements and showcase some of the key moments from the film by way of original stills.
Opening Clip – Repulsion (1965)
Repulsion simmers with unease from the opening frames — a title sequence of words floating over an eyeball (strongly recalling the opening credits of Hitchcock’s Vertigo). From the very start, it is apparent that Carol is mentally unhealthy—she has so drifted away that her client asks if she has fallen asleep. But this comatose mien is the default for poor Carol, whether dealing with her boss, Madame Denise (Valerie Taylor), her sister, Helen (Yvonne Furneaux), her tireless suitor, Colin (John Fraser), or anyone else. She is not just withdrawn from the world—she is utterly vacant, a terrifying blankness where the light in her eyes should be. She is repulsed by life itself, and especially by sexuality and the attention of men.
Source: Repulsion Review
Video: Opening credits and scene
Repulsion – Stills
The following is an extract from a great review of the film.
How does no one notice Carol’s maladjustment? To be fair, one person does: Helen’s married lover, Michael (Ian Hendry), briefly suggests that Carol is too high strung and should see a doctor, much to Helen’s irritation. But Michael really is no different than anyone else—he sees only what he wants to see, which is in turn only the piece that someone else has chosen to project, and he draws his own conclusions from there.
Later, the review turns it’s attention to how Polanski creates the growing tension as the film progresses:
Even before Carol is left to her own devices, Polanski suggests dark things to come. The low-angle shot as Carol first enters her apartment establishes it as a place of menace. Carol listens to Helen and Michael having sex so loudly it sounds as if they’re in the room together, even though Carol’s room is at the front of the apartment and Helen’s is (naturally) at the rear, separated by a large living area. The legitimacy of what we’re seeing is constantly called into question, with Polanski treating Carol as one of his classic unreliable narrators (a theme continued throughout the “Apartment Trilogy”). When Helen and Michael depart for vacation, leaving Carol alone in the apartment…well, solitude is not the cure for an insular and overactive imagination.
Polanski mesmerizingly visualizes Carol’s mental disintegration, using techniques both overt (cracks exploding in the apartment walls; molesting arms reaching out from the corridor) and subtle (the low and slightly canted camera angles; the increasingly wide-angled lenses distorting the size and shape of rooms).
Early on, Polanski tours the apartment, quietly and clevelry orienting us to its layout, all the better to disorient us later as his visual tricks mirror Carol’s internal disquiet. As Carol presses clothing with an unplugged iron and eats sugar cubes and imagines horrifying rapes by various intruders, all to the nerve-wracking sounds of ticking clocks and dripping faucets and buzzing flies, her mental decay is reflected in the rotting, sprouting potatoes on the kitchen counter and (in one of the director’s most revolting images) the decomposing rabbit carcass sitting in the living room. (All of the movie’s food is visually revolting—the pleasures of the flesh made repellent.)
Even the smallest details are distorted: Carol looks through the peephole to see fish-eyed images of visitors; a postcard arrives from Helen, picturing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Everywhere Carol turns, structural defects follow her.
The following stills capture some of the key moments from the film:
Repulsion – Ian Hendry
Ian plays the part of Michael, the married boyfriend of Helen (Yvonne Furneaux) – the elder sister of Carol (Catherine Deneuve). Michael notices that Carol is uptight and suggests she needs some help – but even he could not foresee her deterioration, which accelerates when he and Helen leave for a vacation to Italy – leaving Carol alone in the apartment.
Signed Promotional Stills – Ian Hendry
In Part 3 – the final part of this 50th anniversary tribute – we look at the Cannes Film Festival, promotional material and the film’s critical reception.
Editor, Official Website of Ian Hendry
A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography: