Cinematic Vocabulary – The Psychotic Break from Repulsion (1965)

It is a pleasure to return to Cinematic Vocabulary and kick off Polanski Week by looking at what I consider to be one of Polanski’s less appreciated films.  While The Tenant (1976) is the darling of cinephiles and Rosemary’s Baby (1968) is second only to Polanski’s Chinatown (1974) in terms of mainstream appeal, Repulsion is sometimes overlooked as an early work, sandwiched as it is between Polanski’s break through film Knife in the Water (1962) and his more famous Hollywood projects.

However, it is my contention that Repulsion is a substantial landmark on the the road of Polanski’s artistic development.  The low-budget British Horror film allowed him not only to perfect some of the cinematic techniques that would feature prominently in his later works but also to tackle some of the themes dear to the generation of 1930s surrealist film-makers who clearly had quite an influence on Polanski’s thinking.

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