Repulsion (MRA Ent) (1965)

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Released 13-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 100:34
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roman Polanski
Studio
Distributor
Compton Productions
MRA Entertainment
Starring Catherine Deneuve
Ian Hendry
John Fraser
Yvonne Furneaux
Case ?
RPI ? Music Chico Hamilton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Revlon products in the salon.
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Repulsion is the first disc in this Roman Polanski collection released by MRA, and is widely regarded as Roman Polanski's masterwork - at least on a par with Rosemary's Baby. At a time when the British film industry was defined by soppy period dramas and Hammer Productions, Polanski made this film - a staggering, visceral display of a young woman's descent into insanity.

    The film features some amazing, artful direction for its time. Polanski draws the viewer in with his trademark style, contrasting the claustrophobic confines of an apartment with smooth, fluid photography in the street outside. The wonderful production is aided by some simply marvellous casting - the lead female role is tackled by Catherine Deneuve, who puts in a stunning performance as the disturbed Carole in what is undoubtedly her career-defining performance.

    The frigid Carole shares a flat overlooking a nunnery with her promiscuous elder sister Helene and works long hours at a beauty salon to help pay the bills. With sexual attitudes that are apprehensive to say the least, she is often woken by her sister's love-making in the next room, leading to a deep loathing of her sister's married boyfriend. She soon meets Colin, a simple chap who takes an immediate interest in her - the poor fellow tries to court her but gets nowhere, realising there is a problem. A romantic kiss sickens her to the point where she washes her mouth with soap, and her sharp descent into insanity begins.

    Carole's sister departs for a holiday in Pisa with her boyfriend, leaving Carole alone in the apartment with her vivid imagination. The line begins to blur between fantasy and reality, as the world around her begins to crumble - literally.

    Repulsion also stars legendary British actor Ian Hendry and Polanski himself can be seen in several cameo appearances. I cannot overstate the brilliant performance by Deneuve - a fidgeting nervous character that hears footsteps and sees people in mirrors - you never really know if she is imagining the terrible things she experiences...or are they real?

    This is absolutely riveting stuff, a must-see for anyone familiar with Polanski's more famous work.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Judging by reviews from other regions, it appears MRA has sourced the same transfer that was used by Anchor Bay in Region 2 and applied further compression in order to fit the film onto a single-layered disc.

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced - this is close to the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer is also encoded with Automatic Pan & Scan information for players set up to decode this feature.

    There is a moderate amount of sharpness in the transfer, although it hardly has a film-like appearance. There were two shots that I found most notable for detail - the complex cracks in a close-up of a  facial mudpack at 1:59 and some nice wood grain detail at 60:53. These were sadly the extent of the transfer's clarity. Low level noise was not present in the transfer.

    This is a black and white film, with some decent shadow detail and solid blacks to be found, however given its age it is far from perfect. Luckily there are no glaringly obvious MPEG compression or macro blocking artefacts to be seen, and while there is some grain present in the transfer this is more likely from the film source itself. There were a few brief moments of aliasing such as on a car grille at 36:24, but these were not too bad, and certainly not distracting.

    This film is nearing forty years of age, and it shows in some places. Many fades and dissolves are clunky, possibly because of reel transitions. There are many segments of dirty film that last for several seconds, particularly at 29:00 - so I don't believe a lot of effort has gone into cleaning up these prints. Specks of hair and dust are evident throughout the transfer in the form of positive and negative artefacts, only becoming overpowering on brief occasions. There are a few instances of damaged negative such as a minor scratch at 26:05 and a badly damaged frame at 61:15, as well as many more cases towards the end of the film that are too numerous to specifically list.

    I was also disappointed to find regular horizontal and vertical shimmering that was persistent throughout the whole film and of a particularly distracting nature.

    There are no subtitles available on this single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio option on the disc, English Dolby Digital 2.0. This is almost certainly comprised of the original mono soundtrack spread over two channels.

    The overall volume of the audio is rather low. I was forced to increase my normal listening volume considerably. That said, I never had any problems understanding any of the dialogue in the film, even though there is some noticeable hiss present at times. There are a few loud pops and dropouts in the soundtrack, a stark reminder of the age of this film. Again, considering the age of the source and the effort put into the transfer of this film to DVD this is hardly surprising.

    There are a couple of audio sync problems. From what I can discern, they are solely related to the ADR process. The most obvious is when Colin's lips appear to fall out of sync with the dialogue at 5:58. The remaining cases of sync problems are less noticeable and hardly warrant mentioning.

    The incidental music by Chico Hamilton is absolutely brilliant, and is a highlight of the film for me personally. Minimalist in style and composition, the jazzy interludes are performed by a simple trio of guitar, bass and drums. Time is passed during the film with cool licks that linger for a while, and tense moments are augmented with erratic bursts that jump out of nowhere. I was most impressed with this innovative score, and I can imagine it would have sounded particularly experimental in its time.

    Although the audio track is surround encoded, I found that virtually all signals were directed to the front centre speaker, so my surround channels and subwoofer were given the night off.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu system is static, silent and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:30)

    Presented in 1.33:1, this very dated British trailer serves to introduce Polanski to the relatively conservative British audience of the time, giving away some major plot points in the process.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release - actually coded for all Regions - is a bare-boned, Pan & Scan abomination that barely deserves a mention here.

    Repulsion was released both  individually and as part of a boxed set by Anchor Bay in Region 2 with the following additional extras.

    The Region 2 box contains the same three feature films as the Region 4 set and a fourth bonus disc of eight short films from varying points in Polanski's career. A comprehensive glossy booklet is also included in the set, featuring an essay on each film.

    The Region 2 video transfer of Repulsion has an average video bitrate of 6.6Mb/s. As I mentioned earlier, the Region 4 transfer has a lower average of 5.3Mb/s, allowing it to be slapped onto a single-layered disc. Note that the Region 2 release also does not contain English subtitles.

    The Region 2 Anchor Bay box set is clearly the best option for those who want to make the purchase.

Summary

    Repulsion is a very good horror/ suspense film, and arguably a landmark of British cinema. Fans of Polanski's other work such as Rosemary's Baby should definitely check this one out.

    The video transfer is adequate, but this film deserves some comprehensive restoration.

    The audio on offer is an unremarkable transfer of the original mono soundtrack.

    The only extra is a trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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