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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary featuring director Roman Polanski and actress Catherine Deneuve
  • A British Horror Film (2003), a documentary on the making of Repulsion, featuring interviews with Polanski, producer Gene Gutowski, and cinematographer Gil Taylor
  • A 1964 television documentary filmed on the set of Repulsion, featuring rare footage of Polanski and Deneuve at work
  • Theatrical trailer

Repulsion

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Roman Polanski
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser, Yvonne Furneaux, Patrick Wymark
1965 | 105 Minutes | Licensor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #483
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: July 28, 2009
Review Date: July 11, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

Roman Polanski followed up his international breakthrough Knife in the Water with this controversial, chilling tale of psychosis, starring Catherine Deneuve as Carol, a fragile, frigid young beauty cracking up over the course of a terrifying weekend. Left alone by her vacationing sister in their London flat, Carol is haunted by specters real and imagined, and her insanity grows to a violent pitch. Thanks to its unforgettable attention to disturbing detail and Polanski's unparalleled adeptness at turning claustrophobic space into an emotional minefield, Repulsion remains one of cinema's most shocking psychological thrillers.

Forum members rate this film 8.5/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection was able to get Roman Polanskiís Repulsion from Sony, releasing it not only on DVD but also on Blu-ray (I actually wonder if Sony contracts stipulate that Criterion has to release their titles on Blu-ray, which actually wouldnít be a bad thing if true.) The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on this dual-layer disc and is presented in 1080p.

As a high-def release this is an enormous step up from the previous DVD available to us in North America, easily one of the worst things I have ever come across. It presented the film in full screen and looked as if the source of the transfer was possibly a videocassette, and possibly a PAL to NTSC conversion on top of that. It looked awful and even contained those fuzzy horizontal lines you would get on well used video cassettes. It was easily one of the most bizarre transfers I had ever seen and was far worse than how it looked on television where I originally saw the film.

The transfer found on this Blu-ray is such a large improvement over that monstrosity and will come as a sigh of relief to many who have wanted to own the film on a digital format but lacked multi-region players.

Like the DVD the print is in excellent shape but not without its problems showing more damage than I admit Iím used to in Criterionís recent black and white transfers. While a majority of the film is spectacularly clean with maybe the odd blemish scattered about there are sequences, most notable where the camera is moving quicker, where the damage gets a little heavier and more noticeable.

Where the Blu-ray of course improves upon the DVD is the digital transfer itself, which is perfect. The DVD had some noticeable artifacts which I blamed on the filmís grain, creating some noticeable digital noise. The Blu-ray lacks any of this and presented no issues that I could see. Grain looks far more natural here and the image is of course quite a bit sharper with more detail. Contrast is maybe a tad better since the gray levels are a little more distinct here (though the DVDís presentation is still fine in this regard.)

Not counting The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which was a film shot on digital with a transfer done by Paramount) this may actually be the most impressive Blu-ray transfer for a Criterion release yet. Itís solid, incredibly sharp, and very film like.

(Screen grabs below have been provided by DVD Beaver. Grabs have been downscaled somewhat but should provide an idea of the image quality.)

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Criterionís Blu-ray edition of the film presents a lossless mono track. I was a little thrown by the track here when comparing it to the DVD. It is certainly cleaner, not sounding as harsh as the DVDís Dolby Digital track but what got me is that despite sound effects appearing to be at about the same level when compared to the DVD I still had to crank the volume up a little bit higher than what I had to do with the DVD to hear the dialogue at the level I like. This in turn made the sound effects even louder. Considering the filmís use of sound Iím sure this is how itís supposed to be but found it a little odd that there was such a difference in mixing between the DVDís tracks. So not only is the soundtrack found on here of better quality than the DVDís, with it coming off less harsh and a bit cleaner, itís mix also comes off a bit better and more dynamic, better suiting the filmís sound presentation.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Both the Criterion DVD and Blu-ray come with the same small collection of supplements.

Thankfully making it over is the audio commentary by director Roman Polanski and actress Catherine Deneuve that was originally recorded in 1994 for Criterionís laserdisc release of the film, which I feared would never see the light of day again in region 1 (my understanding is that it appears on a region 2 Anchor Bay DVD.)

It is an excellent track and Iím glad to have finally heard it. Similar to most of Criterionís laserdisc commentaries the two participants are recorded separately and then edited together. This is unfortunate but this technique does tend to keep the track moving. As far as I can figure Polanski is actually viewing the film while recording the track (possibly Criterionís laserdisc transfer since he mentions how the film looks on television) and Deneuve isnít, where her comments come off as not scene-specific and almost as if they are snippets pulled from a longer audio interview. Polanski does have the bulk of the track with Deneuve popping up every so often. Polanski is absolutely wonderful and he gives one of the better director tracks Iíve come across (admittedly Iíve actually never listened to a track by him before.) He offers plenty of technical information and loves to explain how he managed to get certain effects and shots in the film, noting that they would probably have been easier to accomplish today, and even getting very elaborate on how he accomplished a shot through a peep hole. He of course also offers plenty on the getting the production off the ground having to go to a soft porn production company to get the financing, gets into casting the film and working with Deneuve, has nothing but praise for Gilbert Taylorís photography, and explains his use of sound in the film. He also explains some of his choices, such as the slow pacing at the beginning (solely so he could get a big jump when the first jolt occurs on screen) and also isnít afraid to admit heís unsure about certain things in the film (he doesnít have a real reason for the cracks that appear.) And he also offers up some things that appeared in the original script but were abandoned in the actual film such as another death. The best aspect, though, is when Polanski gets critical of the film even calling it his ďshoddiestĒ work. He isnít afraid to point out certain shots heís not happy with, and explains that there are some things he would do different today. He even complains about the filmís pacing which he does find a little on the slow side.

Deneuve as I mentioned doesnít get much time on the track but her comments are also valuable and interesting. She concentrates a lot on her character and what she is going through during the film, and also gets into the more physical aspects of her part. She has some amusing anecdotes and touches on some of the harder parts of the shoot, such as her one nude scene. She offers a few criticisms (she doesnít like how the ďCharlie ChaplinĒ sequence plays out but Criterion quickly edits in Polanski with an explanation for why the scene is the way it is) but overall seems very proud of the film and having worked with Polanski.

As a whole itís a wonderful track, one of the better ones Iíve come across lately and Iím glad Criterion chose to port it over from the laserdisc and not record a new one.

The remaining supplements are found under ďSupplementsĒ on the pop-out menu.

The first supplement here are a couple of trailers for the film. I suspect the first one is the American trailer while the second is the British trailer. Theyíre generally the same at heart, presenting a horror/thriller, but the first/American trailer throws in some critic blurbs at the tail end of it.

A British Horror Film is a 24-minute documentary produced by Blue Underground in 2003 and I believe it was intended for the region 2 Anchor Bay DVD (though I could be wrong.) It feels a little rushed but is a great companion to the commentary track featuring interviews by Polanski, producer Gene Gutowski, Compton Films producer Tony Tenser, cinematographer Gilbert Taylor, and art designer Seamus Flannery. It does cover a lot of material that does appear in the commentary track (thereís more on that peep hole shot) but expands on certain aspects. Thereís more about the troubles getting financing and the film going over budget. Itís also nice to get some alternate views from other members of the production, which presents alternate takes on how it went (some found it smooth, others not.) Thereís also more detail on some of the effects that appear in the film and Taylor explains how the film was a real learning experience for him. But one of the more amusing parts in the documentary comes when the participants admitted they had no idea how single women would live, which in turn called for scouting trips to various apartments so they could recreate the same thing in the film. It does feel brief but paired with the commentary the two really do cover the production quite thoroughly.

The last feature is Grand ťcran, which is a 21-minute episode for the French television program of the same name, which first aired on October 24th of 1964. With minimal narration is works more as a fly-on-the-wall documentary, the camera just sitting there catching Polanski at work on Repulsion and getting interviews with Polanski and the filmís French stars Catherine Deneuve and Yvonne Furneaux. Thankfully itís not a fluff piece and is really a fascinating piece at its best when it just lingers there as Polanski directs. Thereís also a few moments between Deneuve and Polanski as they talk (in French) about scenes theyíre about to shoot and also cover Deneuveís character. Itís a great archival piece and am pleased Criterion managed to round it up.

And like all of Criterionís Blu-ray releases you will also find the Timeline on disc one. You can open it from the pop-up menu or by pressing the RED button on your remote. This is a timeline that shows your current position in the film. It lists the index chapters for the film and you can also switch to the audio commentary from here. You also have the ability to bookmark scenes by pressing the GREEN button and return to them by selecting them on the timeline. You can also delete bookmarks by pressing the BLUE button. This is pretty common on Blu-ray (also common on HD DVD) so itís nothing new, but Iíve always liked Criterionís presentation.

The included booklet is a little flimsy but contains an excellent analytical essay on the film by Bill Horrigan.

It is a slim number of supplements but theyíre altogether quite satisfying with very little fat.

8/10

CLOSING

While the DVD does get a full-hearted recommendation from me I have to say if one has the capabilities definitely pick up this Blu-ray, which contains an absolutely stunning high definition digital transfer showing how all black-and-white transfers should look. Add on the lean but informative supplements and you have an outstanding, wonderful release.


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