Repulsion (Umbrella Ent) (1965)

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Released 6-Jul-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-A British Horror Film
Audio-Only Track-Audio Interview with Professor R.L. Gregory
Gallery-Sketch Book - Art Director
Interviews-Crew-Clive James Meets Roman Polanski
Audio Commentary-Roman Polanski & Catherine Deneuve
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 100:45
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:52) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roman Polanski

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Catherine Deneuve
Ian Hendry
John Fraser
Yvonne Furneaux
Patrick Wymark
Renee Houston
Valerie Taylor
James Villiers
Helen Fraser
Hugh Futcher
Monica Merlin
Imogen Graham
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Chico Hamilton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, this is 1960s swinging London
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Carole (Catherine Deneuve) works as a beautician in London and lives in a flat with her older sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux). She is, for want of a better description, “highly strung”. She appears often distracted, speaks little and exhibits nervous tics; she constantly brushes imaginary dust from her clothes, bites her nails or rubs her nose. Carole lies in bed at night and listens as her sister and her married lover Michael (Ian Hendry) engage in loud sex, has visions of being raped and keeps at a distance Colin (John Fraser), a suitor who loves her. Indeed, after one quick stolen kiss, Carole rushes to the bathroom to wash her mouth and clean her teeth.

     When Helen and Michael depart for a holiday in Italy Carole is left alone in the flat. This exacerbates her isolation and neuroses: in the claustrophobic atmosphere of the darkened flat she starts to hallucinate, hearing footsteps in the hall, seeing men who are not there, imagining cracks appearing in the walls and hands reaching out for her. When Colin, worried by Carole’s failure to answer the telephone, breaks into the flat he triggers a chain of events that have deadly consequences.

     Repulsion was director Roman Polanski’s first English language film. From the opening credits, played over a close up of an eye with a discordant music cue consisting of mostly a drum heartbeat, the film sets out to disorient while it slowly builds tension. While there are some outside scenes, the majority of the film takes place within the small flat and there are many low camera angles and frames shot through windows, doors, or down the long narrow corridor that enhance the claustrophobic, inward looking neurosis of Carole. The sound design adds to the tension; music is kept to a minimum and maximum use is made of natural sounds within the flat, the ticking of the clock, the dripping of a tap, footsteps in the hall. Then as Carole descends further into her personal darkness, use is made of discordant, atonal music cues to add to the audience’s discomfort and disorientation, very like that used by Hitchcock in the shower scene in Psycho.

     Repulsion is also a tour de force from Catherine Deneuve as the emotionally fragile Carole. There is no room for histrionics in this role, no screaming or scenery chewing; instead with minimal dialogue and only body language and facial expressions she plays out her inner torment and distress. It is her film as much as Polanski’s and she is seldom off the screen. The rest of the cast are also good including Patrick Wymark as the landlord and Helen Fraser as Carole’s workmate and perhaps the only person she can open up to.

     Repulsion is a claustrophobic, tense psychological thriller with an intense central performance from Catherine Deneuve. While the score and fashions are dated, the film hold up well 45 years later and proves that the imagined, the unseen, can be very scary indeed.

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Transfer Quality


     Repulsion is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.77:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original theatrical ration was 1.66:1.

     This is a very good, clean print of the 45 year old black and white film. The print was as sharp and detailed as one could want, with every pore on Carole’s face, and every strand of blonde hair, easily seem. Blacks are solid as was the shadow detail, except where it seemed a deliberate choice to leave faces in darkness. Contrast and brightness are generally stable, with only a couple of the outside scenes seeming over bright. Grain is evident and there were a couple of very minor dirt marks in what was otherwise a nicely restored print.

     There are no subtitles.

     The layer change at 78:52 resulted in a slight pause on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 224 Kbps plus an English commentary track at 192 Kbps.

     This was a mono track and it does a good job, especially as the sound design with the ticking of the clock, the dripping of a tap, the footsteps in the hall very much an integral part of creating the film’s tension. Each of the effects comes over nicely, balanced by the minimalist score. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. There was occasional distortion, but nothing excessive. There was no surround or subwoofer use.

     Lip synchronisation was slightly off occasionally but was not distracting. Polanski in the commentary points out one place where they had to change a word which affected the sync.

     The sparse jazz score by Chico Hamilton dates the film but provides effective support.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


A British Horror Film (23:46)

     Made in 2003, this is an interesting, frank look at the genesis of the film, the financing, production including some technical information about shooting the film and the audience reaction. It includes interviews with Roman Polanski (Co-Writer / Director), Gene Gutowski (Producer), Tony Tenser (Producer – Compton Films), Gilbert Taylor (Cinematographer) and Seamus Flannery (Art Director).

Audio Interview with Prof. R.L. Gregory (11:28)

     Recorded in 2003, Professor of Psychology Richard L. Gregory speaks about meeting Polanski in the mid 1960 when they were looking at 3D filmmaking. He also covers Polanski’s use of long scenes with a wide focal length to distort perspective, and the difference between what the eye sees and the brain interprets. Quite interesting. Audio only with a static screen.

Carol’s Eyes

     Two pages of silent text. Polanski was influenced by Richard L. Gregory’s 1966 book Eye and Brain The Psychology of Seeing using optical illusions and perception tricks in Repulsion.

About Richard L. Gregory

     Four pages of biography.

Original Drawings by Art Director

     14 pages of original sketches by Art Director Seamus Flannery. Silent, use the remote to advance.

Film Gallery

     66 stills – film posters, script, film stills and behind the scenes. Silent, use the remote to advance.

Audio Commentary with Roman Polanski and Catherine Deneuve

     Polanski and Deneuve were recorded separately and Polanski provides the majority of comments. Deneuve speaks mostly about her character, with asides about Polanski and the filming. On the other hand, Polanski’s comments are very wide ranging and quite detailed – ideas, plot points, locations, errors, things he would now do differently including the pacing of the film. Interesting and informative.

Clive James Meets Roman Polanski (46:39)

     Made for TV in 1984, Clive James has dinner with Polanski in a Paris restaurant. This is a frank interview that is not about filmmaking or the making of Repulsion; indeed Polanski’s masterpiece Chinatown is not mentioned. Instead Polanski answers questions about his childhood in the Krakow ghetto, moving to London in the 1960s, his marriage to Sharon Tate and her subsequent murder, his interest in young girls, his conviction in California, his attraction to woman. James’ questions are sometimes quite direct, as are Polanski’s answers. Fascinating stuff.

R4 vs R1

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

     There have been a number of Region 0 US and UK releases of the film plus Region 1 US and Region 2 UK and Scandinavia.

     The Region 1 US Criterion Edition is NTSC, in the correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and includes the audio commentary, “A British Horror Film” featurette, one other documentary, trailers and a 16 page booklet . The Region 2 Anchor Bay release is in a 1.78:1 ratio, 16x9 enhanced; it has all the extras of the Region 4 except the Clive James interview and includes a raft of biographies and filmographies, plus DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as the 2.0. As this is a dialogue driven film that was originally released with a mono audio, the 5.1 audio tracks would be of limited value. The Region 0 UK Odeon Entertainment version is 1.66:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and includes the audio commentary, the Clive James interview, an interview with cinematographer Stanley Long (approx 8 minutes), trailers and stills gallery, but not the “A British Horror Film” feature.

     If you want the correct ratio, the Region 1 is the version to have. Otherwise, stick to the Region 4 as it has the most complete set of extras.


     The first English language film from director Roman Polanski, Repulsion is a claustrophobic, tense psychological thriller with an intense central performance from Catherine Deneuve. The film hold up well after 45 years and proves that the imagined, the unseen, can be very scary. The audio and video (while not in the correct aspect ratio) are good, the extras diverse and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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