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Repulsion A, A

UK/1965/B&W/ /Widescreen 1.75:1/ Mono/104 minutes/Directed by Roman Polanski/Starring Catherine Deneuve/Voyager/56 Chaps/2 discs/CLV-CAV/$99.95

     Sitting in a snow bound room with only fours walls and a television to keep you company may not be the best time to see Repulsion, though it might just have the most impact. Dare you take your eyes from the screen, walls might begin to change shape, shadows may grow to three dimensions and the creak of heating pipes may bode the beginnings of a systematic decent into madness. Roman Polanski's fresh, innovative study of a young woman's slide down a twisting fun house ramp into madness and depravity is horror at its best. By taking everyday objects and distorting them to into artifacts of terror, Polanski carefully constructs a scenario of immense power.

     Catherine Deneuve plays Carol Ledoux, a wide-eyed innocent Belgian living in London with her sister. Though the major seeds have already been planted, when Carol's sister leaves on vacation with her boy friend, the dark forces that are tormenting Carol take over completely. Deneuve is really wonderful in the role. Her astounding beauty and delicacy make the desperate decline of Carol all the more poignant and horrifying. The actress makes the character fully believable.

     Polanski's command of the medium in Repulsion is complete. Each aspect of the film blends harmoniously in this bitter chocolate confection of the perverse. The choices he has made support the success of the film at every turn. Chico Hamilton's grating, slashing, jazz score is the perfect accompaniment to Carol's collapse and Gilbert Taylor's unflinching camera prods deep into the psyche of the distraught. The special effects, while very direct, are frighteningly effective at all times and always remain fresh and surprising through repeated viewings.

     The script by Polanski and collaborator Gerard Brach is trimmed close to the bone like the leftovers of a lean leg of a rabbit after a carefully carved meal. The claustrophobic imagery that dominates the film evidently comes from the brilliant script. The hypnotic quality that evolves its way on to film could only have been born on the mighty shoulders of the written word.

     The special edition laser disc set is an enormous pleasure. Having both Roman Polanski and Catherine Deneuve on the second audio commentary is a great coup for Voyager. Polanski is absolutely terrific in his observations. It's fascinating to hear Polanski analyze and criticize his own film. At times, he sounds just like a film critic: "The pace of this film, in general, is a little bit too slow...In the ordinary scenes, just the rhythm is not right." Polanski, the "critic," further notes: "Looking at this film today, I realize that the essential of my style of filming-if I have any-didn't really change. I have only perfected it." Polanski is totally open. He calls Repulsion his shabbiest film as he points out the shadow of a camera that falls across Carol in the street. He should only make some more films so shabbily. The shadow is hardly distinguishable, but the power of Repulsion is unmistakable. Both in the video interview and on the second audio the director makes light of the critical interpretations of his work and emphasizes that critics often read into the work elements that were not intentional. Polanski does maintain his sense of humor commenting about the work of censors: "I was wondering how the poor censor who was exposed to all that filth-whatever happens to him when he's through with his work." Deneuve is not as active on the audio, but that seems natural. "Roman is a despot," she states. "You have to be a despot to be a director." The quality of innocence that helped vividly paint the portrait of Carol Ledoux seems to remain still as Deneuve reminisces about the frock she wore in the film.

     Included in this special edition is also a video interview of Polanski that is interspersed between three short films directed by him and the original theatrical trailer. The shorts, though enjoyable on their own, serve mainly to emphasize the roots of Polanski's cinematic sensibilities. Some of the commentary from the video interview has be used to fill in the silences on the second audio and is easily detected by a significant tonal difference in Polanski's voice.  

     The transfer print used by Voyager is splendid. It captures perfectly the wonderful Gilbert Taylor photography and allows the viewer to sit in rapt attention to the film with no errant marks to disturb the experience. Detail, extremely important in this film, is crisply defined in all light situations. The mono sound is also excellent. The jacket design is quite puzzling, however, and nearly sent me down a pit of confusion, with information awkwardly presented is several directions. Repulsion is certainly a disc that no laser collection should be without.

 

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Laser Disc Ratings

12 Monkeys Special/A-,B+ 

12 Monkeys/ B+,B

1941 SE/ C-, B-

a la Mode/B+,B+

A Pure Formality/C,B

After the Fox/C+,B

Alaska/B,B+

Albino Aligator/C+,B

Alfie/B,B

Amateur/B+,C+

American President/ B+, B+

Apache/C+,C+

Apocalypse Now/A-,A-

Apollo 13 SpecialA,A

Apollo 13//A,A

Appaloosa/C+,C+

Assassins/C,A

Bad and the Beautiful, The/A,B+

Basquiat/C+,B

Bend of the River/ B, B+

Belle Epoque/B+,A-

Bhagdad Cafe/B,B

Big Country/ B, C

Big Deal on Madonna Street/B,B

Big Picture, The/B,B

Big Trees, The/C+,C+

Bingo Long and His Traveling All-Stars/B+,A

Blood and Wine/B,B

Blue Kite/B+,B

Bogus/C,C+

Bordello of Blood/C-,A-

Borderline/C+,B

Bound/B+,B+

Brazil Special Edition/B+,A-

Bride Came COD/B-,B

Bringing Up Baby/A,B

Brute Force/B+,B+

Bulletproof/C,B+

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid/B,A-

Call Nothside 777/B+,C+

Camille Claudel/ A, B+

Canterville Ghost/C+,C+

Caro Diario/A-,A-
Captain from Castile/B,B+

Casino/ C+, B

Casper/C+,A

Cause for Alarm/C,B-

Celestial Clockwork/B+,B-

China Moon/B+,A

Christmas in July/A,B+

Christopher Columbus(1949)/C,C

Come and Get It/B,B+

Commandments/C+,B+

Courage Under Fire/B,A

Crash/C+,B+

Crimson Tide/A-,A

Crossing Guard, The/B,B+

Cutthroat Island/C, A

Dante's Peak/B-/B

Daylight/B,A-

Dead Man Walking/C+,B+

Dead Man/C+,A-

Dead Presidents Special/ B+,A

Dersu Uzala/B+,B

Diabolique(1995)/C+,C

Diary of Ann Frank/ A-,B

Dodes'ka-den/ B+, B+

Double Happiness/ B+,B+

Dragon/B+,A

Dune/C+,B+

Earrings of Madame de.../ B+, B+

Enemy Below/ B, B

Englishman Who Went..../C,B

English Patient/B+,A

Ermo/B-,B-

Escape from LA/B-,A

Everybody's Fine/C+,C+

Executive Decision/B+,A

Eye for an Eye/B,B+

F.I.S.T./B,B

Face-Off/B+,A
Family Thing/B,B+
Farewell My Concubine/A-,A

Far Country/ B-, C+

Field of Dreams Special/A-,B+

Field of Dreams/ A-, B

Fierce Creatures/B-,B+

Fires on the Plain/B+,B

Firestarter/C+,C+

First Knight/ C-, B+

First Wives Club/C+,B+

For Whom the Bell Tolls/B-,B+
French Kiss/B-,B+
Fugitive,The(1947)/B-,B

Frankie Starlight/B+,B

Freaks/B+,B

Free Willy 2/B-,B+

Funny Bones/A,A

Get Shorty/ A, A

Goldeneye/ B, A

Ghost Story/B,B

Great Escape(MGM)/A-,B-

Great Expectations/A,B+

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan/B+,C

Grosse Point Blank/A-,A-

Grumpier Old Men/B-,B+

Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, The/B,C-

Happy Gilmore/ B-, A-

Hard Boiled/B-,B+

Hard Eight/B,C+

Harriet the Spy/B,A

Haunting, The/A,B+

Head Above Water/D+,B

Heat/A-,B

Heaven and Earth/B+,A-

Helen of Troy/C+,B+

Henry V/A,B

Hill,The/A-,B

Hoop Dreams/A,A

Horseman on the Roof/B-,B

Innocent, The/ C, C

Innocents, The/ A, A-

Interrupted Melody/C+,C

Into the West/A,B+

Inventing the Abbots/B-,B+

Jack/C+,A-

Jean de Florette/ A-, B-

Jumanji/ B+, B+

Kansas City/D+,C+

Kentuckian/B-/B

Kingpin/B,B+

Kolya/A-,A-

Kwaidan/A,A-

La Dolce Vita/ A, B

Last Dance/B,B+

Last Man Standing/C,B

Last Supper, The/B-,B+

League of Gentlemen/B,B

Leave Her to Heaven/B+,B+

Les Miserables/ B, B+

Liar,Liar Special/B+,A

Lili/A-,C

List of Adrien Messinger/B,B+

Lonely are the Brave/A-,A-
Lord of Illusions/B,A-

Love Jones/B,A-

Malice/B+,B+
Mask,The/A-,A
Mi Familia/A-,A-
Michael/C+,A

Miracle of Morgan's Creek/B,B-

Mirage/B,B-

Mission Impossible/C+,B+

Mona Lisa/B+,B+

Morgan/B,C+

Mulholland Falls/C+,B

Muriel's Wedding/ B, B+

My Name is Nobody/C,C

Mystery of Rampo/ A-, B

Natural Born Killers/B,B+

Nell/B,A-

Net, The/ C, B+

Nixon/B+,A

Nothing Sacred/B,C

Old Man and the Sea/B,B

Othello/A-,B+

Peeping Tom/A-,A-
Raw Deal/B+,B
Red Firecracker,Green Firecracker/B+,A
Repulsion/A,A

Restoration/B+,A

Richard III/A,A

Ridicule/A-,B-

River Wild/B+,A-

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion/B,B

Room at the Top/A-,B

Rosewood/B,B+

Scopio/B,C

Seven SE/ B+, A

Shawshank Redemption/A-,A
She/B,B-

Shining Through/C+,B

Silence of the Lambs/A,A
Sling Blade/A,B+

Slingshot/A,A-

Something to Talk About/ B-, B+

Spartacus Special Edition/A,A

Species/C,B+

Star Trek: First Contact/C+,A-

Stars Fell on Henrietta/ C+,B+

Stealing Beauty/B,B

Strange Days/ C+, B+

Striptease/D,A-

Sudden Death/ B, A-

Sullivan's Travels/B+,B

Surviving Picasso/C,B+

T-Man/B,B

That Old Feeling/B-,A-

That Thing You Do/B,C+

They Drive By Night/B,B

Thieves(Les Voleurs)/B,B

Things You Do in Denver When You're Dead/D+,B+

This Sporting Life/A-,B+

Timemaster/ D, C

Tom and Viv/B-,B-

Tortilla Flat/B+,B

Trainspotting/B-,B+

Trees Lounge/B-,B-

Trigger Effect/B-,B+

Two Bits/C,B

Unforgettable/C,C+

Umbrellas of Cherbourg/B+,B

Unzipped/B-,B-

Usual Suspects/ B-,C+

Valdez is Coming/C+,B-

Vengeance Valley/B,C+

Vertigo/A-,A-

Virtuosity/ C+, A

Wait Until Dark/B,B-

Walk in the Clouds, A/ A-,

Walkabout/B/B-

Waterworld/ B+, B

White Man's Burden/ B, B+

White Squall/ B,A

Whole Wide World/B,B

Wicked City/ B, C+

Wild Bill/ C+, B

Window to Paris/ B,B

Witness/B+,A-
Wonderful,Horrible World Life..../B+,B

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 Films on Disc 1999  Stuart J. Kobak , all rights reserved.