|Fig. 1 Repulsion Poster|
Repulsion is an intriguing journey into the mind of the beautiful but mentally unstable lead character, Carol.
|Fig. 2 Carol looking alienated.|
|Fig. 3 Carol in the family photo.|
This photo is significant to the plot because it is the only visual aid the audience gets to help them establish her character, other than what she physically portrays in front of the camera. The photo is incredibly unsettling as it shows a happy family gathered together in the foreground with one child standing, staring in the background. It is the focus at the beginning and end of the film, thus making it more than just part of the family album. One interpretation is that the little girl, believed to be Carol, is staring at a man to the right because he raped or molested her when she was young. Ewa Mazierska revealed that "Although this interpretation contradicts Polanski's own explanation of using the photograph as an indication that there was always something impenetrable and sinister in Carol's personality, it is perfectly plausible." (Mazierska, 2007:39) Through out the narrative the audience sees the nervous ticks Carol has and with no other clear explanation to be found this would be a realistic reason to explain away why she's so nervous. Another example is in her dress sense, she wears patterned dresses similar to the one she is wearing in the family photo, innocent and modest, no flesh showing at all. Mazierska describes her appearance: "With her blonde, yet modest hair and long fringe, which almost hides her eyes, and in white dresses, she can be regarded as an epitome of moral purity, an angel" (Mazierska, 2007:40) She can be interpreted as pure, innocent, much like her past self in the photo. This may be because she wants to return to a time when she was still pure and where sexuality did not dirty her or even become her desire.
|Fig. 4 Carol's home cracking.|
A technique that Polanski used to portray Carol's mental insecurity was the recurring use of cracks within the walls of her home. Cracks have many connotations assigned to them, in this instance they could indicate the cracks in her sanity as she becomes weighted under the pressure from external male influences. Katherine Shonfield illustrates that cracks "implicate the primal fear of smearing, explored through an analogy between the interior space of their heroine's bodies, and the interiors of the apartments where they live...the transgression of the architectural edge...holds the threat of the violation of the edge of their bodies. [Repulsion] deal[s] with fear of penetration writ large: written on the architecture of the interior and the architecture of the cities in which the films' action takes place" (Shonfield, 2001:55) The cracks are a manifestation of Carol's fear of penetration, she is unable to understand or come to terms with her own sexuality and as she struggles more the cracks appear larger and more frequently. Her home is becoming a giant reminder of everything she is struggling with internally, far from being a place of safety, it has become a predator for her sanity. Physical cracks, Ain-Krupa divulged, were used because "in order to make Carol's disintegrating tangible, the audience would need to feel spatial changes" (Ain-Krupa, 2010:41) and these spatial changes are more that effective in portraying her mind's gradual cracking and disintegration.
|Fig. 5 The second murder's aftermath.|
List of Illustrations
Figure 1. Repulsion (1965) Repulsion Poster. At: http://www.movie-poster-posters.com/pix/repulsion.jpg (Accessed on: 09.12.10)
Figure 2. Repulsion (1965) Carol looking alienated. At: http://themorbidimagination.com/tag/roman-polanski/ (Accessed on: 09.12.10)
Figure 3. Repulsion (1965) Carol in the family photo. At: http://www.meddle.tv/page.php?page=37&set=comm (Accessed on: 09.12.10)
Figure 4. Repulsion (1965) Carol's home cracking. At: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2009/09/repulsion-1965.html (Accessed on: 09.12.10)
Figure 5. Repulsion (1965) The second murder's aftermath. At: http://arethehillsgoingtomarchoff.blogspot.com/2010/09/repulsion-1965-film-by-roman-polanski.html (Accessed on: 09.12.10)
Ain-Krupa, Julia (2010) Roman Polanski: a life in exile. California: ABC-CLIO, LLC
Mazierska, Ewa (2007) Roman Polanski: the cinema of a cultural traveller. London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
Orr, John , Ostrowska, Elżbieta (2006) The cinema of Roman Polanski: dark spaces of the world. London: Wallflower Press
Shonfield, Katherine (2001) Walls have feelings: architecture, film and the city. London: Routledge