Repulsion (film)  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Repulsion is a 1965 British psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski, based on a scenario by Gérard Brach and Roman Polanski. It was Polanski's first English language film, and was filmed in London, as such being his second film made outside Poland. The cast includes Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser and Yvonne Furneaux. Polanski himself makes a cameo as a spoon player among a trio of street buskers.



Carol Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve), a Belgian manicurist who bites her nails, lives in Kensington, London, with her older sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux). Carol practically sleepwalks through her days, and interacts awkwardly with men. A would-be suitor, Colin (John Fraser), is flummoxed by her behaviour and she rebuffs his advances, disgusted by them. She hides her head in her pillow against her sister's cries of sexual pleasure with her married boyfriend, Michael (Ian Hendry). When Helen leaves on a holiday to Italy with Michael, Carol appears even more distracted at work, gets sent home, stays in the apartment, leaves a raw, skinned rabbit out to rot, and begins to hallucinate, first seeing the walls cracking, a man breaking in and molesting her, then hands reaching out to grab and attack her. Colin breaks into her apartment when she refuses to acknowledge his adoration and he apologizes for his transgression. When he says he wants to "be with" her "all the time," she bludgeons him to death with a candlestick, dumps the body into the overflowing bathtub, and nails the broken door shut. Later, the imperious landlord (Patrick Wymark) breaks in, looking for the late rent payment. Carol pays him and sits on the sofa, staring into space. He remarks on the decaying state of the apartment, and attempts to ingratiate himself by bringing her a glass of water as he leers at her in her nightgown. When he first propositions her, then sexually assaults her, she gets away. But he comes at her again and she slashes him to death with a straight razor.

When Helen and Michael return, they discover the dead bodies. Michael runs for help. Helen, distraught, finds Carol hiding under the bed in a catatonic state. Neighbors arrive -- curious, concerned and shocked. Michael returns and carries Carol out, staring creepily at her wide-open eye, face and body. A family photograph on the mantel shows Carol as a girl, turned towards a male figure in the photograph with a look that could kill. The movie vaguely suggests that her father may have sexually abused her as a child and that this is the basis of her neuroses and breakdown but it could also be argued that this mental anguish stems from the love she never got from this man who preferred her sister.



Repulsion is the first of Polanski's "apartment trilogy" (the other two being Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Tenant (Le Locataire, 1976).

Similar works

  • Rosemary's Baby (1968), by Roman Polanski
  • The Tenant - (Le Locataire) (1976), by Roman Polanski
  • π (1998), by Darren Aronofsky, alludes to the film, and Aronofsky's Black Swan (2010) certainly contains thematic allusions to it.
  • May (2002), by Lucky McKee, was heavily influenced by the film, and has a similar motif of the protagonist's apartment mirroring her mental state.
  • Scissors (1991), by Frank De Felitta and starring Sharon Stone as a paranoid woman trapped in a mysterious apartment.
  • Music videos for The Cardigans' "Hanging Around" and Metric's "Monster Hospital" were directly inspired by the film.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Repulsion (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools