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Thread: Polanski's Repulsion

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    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    Polanski's Repulsion

    Watched this again over the weekend and it sure does hold up well. What a weird, creative, atmospheric and effective picture. Great performances, fantastic visuals. Catherine Deneuve's work in the film is pretty much perfect.

    Wikipedia says that the film hints at her character having been molested by her father as a child, which would go a long way to explaining her actions in the film, but if that's hinted at, I missed it. Obviously she is repulsed by male sexuality, that much is made clear, but as I watched it over the weekend I wondered if maybe it was because she was a repressed lesbian? Not that being a lesbian would make you kill, obviously, but it could explain why she's so put off by sex with men specifically. The reason I had this thought was that there are very few spots in the film where she seems comfortable and at ease, and the one spot where it stood out to me that she was took place in the locker room at work when the female co-worker calmed her down and said go to see a movie, at which point you kind of get the impression that Carol thinks this woman has just asked out her to see a movie, and she seems disappointed when she quickly learns that isn't the case. Maybe I'm reading too much into that scene, I don't know, but it made me think about that angle.
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    Senior Member John Bernhard's Avatar
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    It's a pretty spectacular film, and I think Wiki may be projecting a bit there.
    Of course it fits, but I never got a direct hint before.

    Will check when I watch again sometime.


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    Pallid Hands Andrew Monroe's Avatar
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    I have read somewhere before about the implied molestation too (not Wikipedia), wish I could recall where. I never picked up on it myself, just always read it as her being psychologically fragile and near the breaking point for unexplained reasons. Maybe the attack pushed her over the edge...I definitely want to watch it again to see if I've missed something in prior viewings. Unforgettable, haunting film.
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    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    The wiki page references the book Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies by David Bordwell.

    You can read the pages in question here:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=ZU...page&q&f=false

    But it doesn't offer much in regards to backing up the molestation idea.
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    Pallid Hands Andrew Monroe's Avatar
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    I dug out my Criterion disc last night to reread the essay in the booklet (by Bill Horrigan), he mentions that Polanski's sole concession to Carol's past is the framed photograph we see in the beginning and at the end. The adults and a young Helen are clustered in the foreground and Carol stands behind them, alone. It's a stretch to read molestation into that (though not impossible), I personally think it speaks more to her isolation and psychological problems.
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    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Monroe View Post
    I dug out my Criterion disc last night to reread the essay in the booklet (by Bill Horrigan), he mentions that Polanski's sole concession to Carol's past is the framed photograph we see in the beginning and at the end. The adults and a young Helen are clustered in the foreground and Carol stands behind them, alone. It's a stretch to read molestation into that (though not impossible), I personally think it speaks more to her isolation and psychological problems.
    I noticed that in the movie, she's looking in a (slightly) different direction than the rest of the family as well. I'm with you - not sure how you get molestation out of that as there was nothing intrinsically linking she and the father in that photo (at least that I noticed) - but it could certainly be seen, as you saw, as a statement to her alienation.
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  7. #7
    I've certainly read such interpreations in books from the 70s (maybe the Ivan Butler book), so it's not completely without precedent.

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