Overall | Repulsion (MRA Ent) (1965) | Cul-de-sac (1966) | Knife in the Water (Nůz w Wodzie) (1962)

Polanski Box Set (Repulsion/Cul-de-sac/Knife in the Water) (1962)

Polanski Box Set (Repulsion/Cul-de-sac/Knife in the Water) (1962)

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Released 13-Nov-2003

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Overall Package

††† Fans of Roman Polanski's popular films such as Rosemary's Baby and The Ninth Gate may not have seen these earlier pieces of work from the renowned director, and all three are very interesting in their own right. These films are not related in any way as far as plot is concerned - their only similarity is their time period and director.

††† MRA have released these three groundbreaking films as a set similar to the box released by Anchor Bay in Region 2. As you are about to see, we have been considerably short-changed in the extras department - but rest assured that these films are all compulsory viewing, whether you manage to buy this box cheaply or fork out for the Region 2 you won't be disappointed.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Other Reviews NONE
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$54.95 !!! - wolfgirv

Overall | Repulsion (MRA Ent) (1965) | Cul-de-sac (1966) | Knife in the Water (Nůz w Wodzie) (1962)

Repulsion (MRA Ent) (1965)

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.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Repulsion (MRA Ent) (1965) | Cul-de-sac (1966) | Knife in the Water (Nůz w Wodzie) (1962)

Cul-de-sac (1966)

Cul-de-sac (1966)

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Released 13-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 107:11
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roman Polanski
Studio
Distributor

MRA Entertainment
Starring Donald Pleasence
Francoise Dorleac
Lionel Stander
Jack MacGowran
Case ?
RPI ? Music Komeda


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, Cornflakes and Christian Dior.
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

††† Having never seen Cul-De-Sac before, I found this film quite an oddity for Polanski, and I am still puzzling over it to some degree. The film borders on a black comedy while keeping his suspenseful directorial style and focusing on some stunning performances from his cast, featuring Donald Pleasence, Francoise Dorleac and Lionel Stander.

††† A pair of injured gangsters are stranded by the high tide after a bungled job lands them on the brink of an island in Northumberland. With their car broken down, one of the men follows telephone lines to a castle and casually invites himself in. The castle is kept by a married couple - George, an artist and writer and his bored, promiscuous wife Teresa. Forcing himself into their lives, the thug insists on staying with them until help arrives from his mob bosses. Mayhem eventually ensues as visitors arrive at the castle and the presence of the stranger has to be explained.

††† Through the stress of the situation, the couple are forced to reconsider their relationship and to help each other survive the ordeal without going insane.

††† My main problem with this film was that I found it hard to empathise with the characters. Sure, the direction is brilliant and there are some genuinely funny moments to be had, but for me the film didn't work as a comedy, or a thriller, or a suspense drama - or anything really. There just wasn't enough laughter to make it a comedy, and while it had some mildly suspenseful moments, it hardly had me on the edge of my seat. Perhaps reading too many favourable reviews of this film over the years had raised my expectations too high.

††† This film is certainly a treat for Polanski fans who have not seen it before, although I can only recommend that you not expect too much from this one.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† This transfer is of a very similar quality and vintage to that of the first disc in the set, Repulsion - so I may repeat myself here, as you would understand.

††† 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 Pan & Scan information for players set up to use this information.

††† The transfer is slightly sharper than Repulsion and has a decidedly more film-like quality to it. Skin textures and overall detail is good, although the transfer contains the same level of intermittent grain that is present on disc one.

††† MPEG artefacts are minimal - on my first viewing I noticed macro blocking in some detailed grass at the beginning of the film, but on subsequent viewings I have been unable to find it again, which has to be a good thing. There were no major instances of aliasing present in the transfer.

††† Also filmed in black and white, this transfer has bolder blacks and slightly better shadow detail than the other discs in the set. The source is heavily damaged in parts, with missing frames and skips in the film (60:34), scratches (4:32)†and film artefacts - some of which are considerable, such as the white artefact that covers a face at 88:31 and a large black artefact that makes an appearance at 87:34.

††† There are no subtitles 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; English Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded. This is certainly sourced from the film's original mono track.

††† Although there is some mild hiss present here and there, the dialogue was always clear and easy to understand. There were no audio sync issues with this transfer.

††† The film's music is credited to Polanski's regular composer Komeda. This is a quirky score, matching the unpredictability of the feature. There are some very jazzy moments in the soundtrack, some of which are accompanied by eerie electronic melodies and percussion. As a whole this is quite a bizarre score, but effective nonetheless.

††† As well as some mild hiss, there were a few pops and clicks present in the soundtrack. The most distracting occurred at 54:13, coinciding with a damaged portion of film.

††† 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 menus are static, silent and are not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:17)

††† Presented in 1.33:1, this is a standard clumsy trailer of the time.

R4 vs R1

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

††† Cul-De-Sac was released as part of a very similar 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.

††† Reviews that I have read speak very highly of the Anchor Bay transfer, and the addition of the above extras makes the Region 2 release the clear winner.

Summary

††† Cul-De-Sac is an intriguing film, well acted and beautifully directed. This is definitely worth watching for Polanski fans, but ultimately I found it to be a confusing effort.

††† The video transfer is adequate for a film of this age.

††† The audio transfer is typical of a mono soundtrack, but where's the dts?

††† The only extra is a trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, November 07, 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.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Repulsion (MRA Ent) (1965) | Cul-de-sac (1966) | Knife in the Water (Nůz w Wodzie) (1962)

Knife in the Water (Nůz w Wodzie) (1962)

Knife in the Water (Nůz w Wodzie) (1962)

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Released 13-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1962
Running Time 90:13
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roman Polanski
Studio
Distributor

MRA Entertainment
Starring Leon Niemczyk
Jolanta Umecka
Zygmunt Malanowicz
Case ?
RPI ? Music Komeda


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

††† Roman Polanski's feature film debut is an exploration of love and betrayal on the sea of life.

††† Andrej is a squabbling, well-to-do businessman (Leon Niemczyk), accompanying his attractive wife Krystyna (Jolanta Umecka) on a boating trip. On their way to the marina they pick up a hitchhiker that perilously flags them down, almost getting himself run over in the process. The young fellow is keen for a ride and helps the couple get aboard their boat, but is invited to join them on their overnight trip at the last minute.

††† Their young hitcher (Zygmunt Malanowicz) is a loner and a vagrant, carrying knives and living dangerously - but he cannot swim! Repressed and dominated by her husband, Krystyna finds his weaknesses attractive and soon decides to let her hair down. Their time on the boat together becomes tense, as the grumpy husband senses the electricity between the two and begins to stir the pot, as it were.

††† Polanski has a knack for casting beautiful young women in his films and he doesn't disappoint here. Krystyna is played magnificently by Jolanta Umecka - who successfully portrays the frustrated, young trophy wife. As an interesting piece of trivia, the dialogue for both Krystyna and the young hitchhiker were overdubbed by other actors, the latter by Polanski himself - although he is not credited.

††† I'm hesitant to give too much of the plot away. Suffice it to say that the film contains some hints towards Polanski's future directorial style, with inventive camera angles and a few interesting twists to keep the viewer interested. Despite its age and the inevitable comparisons with his later work, I found this simple film to be very enjoyable and rewarding viewing.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

††† My most significant gripe with this transfer is that MRA have transferred to DVD the analogue master that was aired by Australian multicultural broadcaster SBS in 1984. How can I tell? It says so in bold captions at the end of the feature.

††† This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

††† The picture is disappointing and quite dull, exhibiting detail comparable to a VHS tape.

††† I really am struggling to find something nice to say about this transfer. One godsend is the lack of any obvious analogue tape artefacts, so we do have something to be thankful for I guess. I didn't notice any MPEG artefacting or aliasing, probably due to the distinct lack of resolution.

††† I can usually tolerate a certain amount of film damage if the movie is worth sitting through, and that is the case in this instance. There are a myriad of film artefacts present here - to list them all individually would be futile. Take my word for the fact that there is a textbook example of almost every possible film artefact†to be found in this transfer - even the cigarette burns are intact. The most annoying problem for me was intermittent shifts in exposure, rendering the film very dark in some moments and overly bright in others - an inconsistency of the most irritating kind.

††† There are subtitles burned into the video stream; a monochrome font as was used by SBS back in the 80s. The subtitles flow consistently with the dialogue and don't present any real problems unless you speak Polish and intend to turn them off.

††† This disc is DVD-5 formatted, so no layer transition is present.

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

Audio

††† This is a Polish language film and, as with the other two films in this set, the only audio track available is Dolby Digital surround encoded, likely sourced from the original mono master.

††† Dialogue was always prominent in the soundtrack, although it was occasionally consumed by hiss and crackling. The subtitles manage to make up for this problem, so we don't miss any important dialogue in the translation. I only noticed one audio sync issue; lips fell slightly out of sync with the dialogue at 72:30. There are a few small audio dropouts during the feature, coinciding with damaged portions of film and some of these are very noticeable.

††† Regular Polanski composer Komeda contributes yet another a haunting and evocative score, simultaneously lazy and romantic. I found this score quite beautiful and very reminiscent of the work of Bernard Hermann.

††† There was no surround activity or subwoofer response. I attempted to engage Pro Logic II processing but it didn't do this soundtrack any favours.

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

Extras

††† Absolutely nothing.

R4 vs R1

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

††† Criterion recently released a two-disc package of this film in Region 1 with several interesting bonuses.

††† Knife In The Water was released as part of a box set by Anchor Bay in Region 2 with the following 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.

††† Reviews I have read speak very highly of the Anchor Bay transfer, and the addition of the above extras makes the Region 2 release the clear winner, although I would be very interested in viewing the Criterion transfer one day.

Summary

††† Knife In The Water would be an impressive debut feature for any filmmaker, but coming from Polanski makes this particularly important viewing.

††† The audio and video transfers are heavily artefacted but watchable, and there are absolutely no extras included on the disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Saturday, November 08, 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.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE