Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Calm down, it’s Repulsion.

Be aware that one of the greatest films of the 1960s has been reissued on a nice new DVD. Common wisdom has it that the best movie by Roman Polanski must be Chinatown. After all, it was at this point …

Sat, Jun 12, 2010, 19:30

   

Be aware that one of the greatest films of the 1960s has been reissued on a nice new DVD. Common wisdom has it that the best movie by Roman Polanski must be Chinatown. After all, it was at this point that the Polish wizard managed to secure the confidence of the studios and deliver a film that featured movie stars, won awards and made serious money. There’s nothing much wrong with that great latter-day film noir, but Polanski’s finest work is surely Repulsion from 1965.

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The film is certainly very spooky and, in Catherine Deneuve, it features an actress who could campaign fragility with  serious charisma. Telling the story of a young woman’s decline into madness, the picture is, however, most notable for its ability to gather together so many thrashing cultural strands. Produced by the late, great Tony Tenser, one of Soho’s great wheelers and dealers, Repulsion combined European arthouse misery with exploitation sleaze. It caught London at the point when 1950s weariness was still warring with the coming colour and freedom. (You could argue that, just three years later, as documented in Performance, the party had already come to a close.)

The new DVD includes the same excellent commentary that appeared on the superb Polanski boxed set that emerged a little under a decade ago and features an amusing interview between Roman and Clive James. Most importantly, the print has been dusted up quite nicely.

Repulsion currently occupies a place on my Top Ten of all time. So there.

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