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'Repulsion 1965' If The Walls Could Talk, They'd Say Bad Things about that Girl... 22/11/2015

Figure 1: 'Repulsion' Poster
This film review will focus on how the main house reflects Carole's current status, how people around her are shown/portrayed and the art style of the film. The film was made in 1965, was directed by 'Roman Polanski' and the art director 'Seamus Flannery' was responsible for making the film look the way it looked. This film is described by many as one of Roman Polanski's best works, "It is one of Roman Polanski's most brilliant films: a deeply disturbing, horribly convincing psychological thriller that is also that rarest of things: a scary movie in which a woman is permitted to do the killing. Catherine Deneuve's glassy stare of anxiety dominates the movie" (Peter Bradshaw. 2013). The kind of mood the film gives off is one of fear, unknown, anxiety and danger, because the film is in black and white using colour for symbolism was not an option, however given the technical restraints the film uses symbolism in colour beautifully and efficiently.

Figure 2: Carole and the Landlord
The way people are represented in this film are very distinct, a large majority of the men in the film are dressed in this thick, black clothing, whilst women are usually in bold, white dresses. Having this very strong, dark colour gives off a sense of power and danger, having this on a large majority of the men is very interesting choice in terms of art direction. The darker colour is also very interesting because it represents corruption as well, notice before Helen has sex with Michael she is dressed up in white clothing, but in the morning she is in a bold, black gown. As as the film progresses the film seems to get a lot darker, showing that as the film progresses corruption slowly starts to set in. The amount of white used in the film is interesting, it appears to only be on the women for a majority of the film. The colour white being a symbol of purity and innocence would then be fitting for woman, however when Carole murders the two men, the colour white has a whole different meaning, even when she walks down the street in the film at points the scene gives off a sense of eeriness rather than innocence. Then when both bold black and pure white a merged together in a single scene is gives off this odd sense that you are in serious danger, but it is very difficult to detect how.

Figure 3: Carole
The character Carole is different from everyone else in the film, she appears to suffer from anxiety, social disorders, OCD, insomnia, depression or schizophrenia, however none of these conditions are verbally stated in the film, we are merely hinted at the fact she has something wrong with her. One condition she does suffer from in the film, as we move into the film is insanity, again this is not verbally stated but there is one condition that is hinted that she has, OCD. OCD is 'Obssesive Compulsive Disorder', a condition which drives a human being to where everything has to be ordered in a fashion which seems either perfect or appropriate. At the start of the film she seems to be tidy, neat and quiet, whereas at the end she is very disorganised, almost as if this OCD has 'Kept her in check'. Meanwhile she also appears to act very childlike, the way she moves, biting her nails, her speech towards other characters and even when she kills Colin its almost as if she is a little girl playing with a toy, it's only when she see's what she has done wrong that the harsh reality hits her. She also does something that is both childish and kinky which is biting her hair, it is a very odd thing to do in general, hair does not taste or feel very nice in the mouth so not only is it something that a kid would most likely do but it is also something that is classed as truly weird. As the film develops you can see Carole transform from one character to another, not just by her acting but by her physical appearance. At the start of the film she is this innocent young girl, at the end of the film she is this insane woman who has been consumed by her own issues. Even as the film progresses you can see her hair beginning to become very untidy and frizzled, showing that she is slowly cracking.

Figure 4: Wall Crack
The house and props in the film are also meant to be another visual example of Carole's mental state, before Helen leaves everything is fine. She acts like a mother/parental figure towards Carole giving Carole a sense of security and control. When she leaves the house that security and control is gone, she now has no boundaries or limits because no one is there to control her. As the film progresses you see that certain things change, for example the potatoes grow roots over time, the rabbit beings to rot and gain flies and the house becomes dirtier in general. The hallucinations in Carole's mind are then shown to us in the film, cracks in the walls, hands coming out of walls and rooms getting much bigger, are signs that something is wrong but it does not tell us what precisely is wrong. "When her sister and her sister's boyfriend engage in noisy sex, the sound echoes in her head until she begins to hallucinate, thinking the very walls are cracking around her. The film takes us right inside her head and keeps us there for most of its running time. It's a harder and harder place to be, as we are forced to share her trauma. When her sister and the boyfriend leave on holiday, she's left alone with nobody to shield her from the clamour of the wider world." (Jennie Kermode. 2010) The only things we learn she is afraid/repulsed by is any form of sexual engagement and people she cannot relate to. We know this from one scene in particular, when the hands start coming out of walls. Notice that when the hands come out they only do one thing, they grope her chest and try to touch her but never does one of them throw a punch or a slap, there would be no means of physical harm. Only one scene has her being physically harmed in her mind and that is the silent rape scene.

Figure 5: Man in the Mirror

Technically it is more than one scene but it is more of a build up sequence rather than separate scenes. Notice how in the rape scenes, there is no sound of any struggle, however we can see from the footage that this encounter is very violent. On the last rape scene of the film however Carole does something odd, she puts on lipstick? This doesn't really make any sense until you being to piece together the whole film, she had been raped multiple times, murdered two men and wreaked a home, she is putting the lipstick on, almost as if she is getting ready for a date. As gruesome as this sounds she is 'Getting ready to be raped'. She knows it is going to happen and is almost looking forward to it, she does not seem scared in the bed until the man shows up, after that she become terrified. It is never fully explained why she has this fear but there is a popular theory about the films ending. At the end of the film as Carole is carried away we see a family picture, but everyone is blacked out apart from two characters, the assumed father and Carole as a child. The theory is that the father raped Carole when she was a young girl and now she is mentally traumatised, it would explain why she fears what she fears and why she needs an authority figure with her a large portion of the time. "Carol's neuroses are never explained, but wherever they come from, they seem to have been with her for a while. The film ends as it begins, with a huge blurry close up, this time of the face of the child Carol in an old family photograph. Isolated, vacant, and staring into space. We're left to stare back, mesmerised, as we have been throughout the entire film." (Elaine Macintyre. N/A)


Bradshaw, P. (2013) 'Repulsion – review' 
In: The Guardian 3 January 2013 

Kermode, J. (2010) Repulsion (1965) 
movie review from eye for film. 
(Accessed on 22.11.15)

Macintyre, E. Repulsion (1965)
Cult classic film review: Repulsion. 

Image Biblography

Figure 1, 'Repulsion' Poster:

Figure 2, Carole and the Landlord:

Figure 3, Carole:

Figure 4, Wall Crack:

Figure 5, Man in the Mirror:


  1. Interesting review Tom.

    There are a couple of places where what you have written doesn't quite make sense, so it is always a good idea to proofread it back to yourself, to weed out any confusion.
    Also, you don't need to put peoples proper names in speech marks and italics (Roman Polanski, for example), just film names need to be italicised.

    1. Sorry Jackie, I did actually proof read this one twice, you have been saying that a number of times now on the next review I will take my time with it. :)


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