Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Navigation: Roman Polanski Apartment Trilogy

Watched these films to form the basis for my essay of this project. I'd say all these films struck a chord with me, perhaps its because the apartments remind me of my own humble abode. I feel as if I’ve watched these films in the perfect order. Each film is about a decent into madness for the main characters, with each film going about doing so quite differently.

Repulsion 1965:

Easily the best aspect of this film is the way that it looks and the way that it's filmed, its pretty incredible (maybe a bit like the Blair Witch project without all the head-ache o-vision.) When watching it really feels like your watching a dream (In this case a nightmare I guess), and the lines between reality and Carol's head become increasingly blurred as she goes a bit nutty. I'd go into it a bit more but I'll save it for the essay.

What I disliked about this film though is the main character herself. I’m all up for a good ol’ descent into madness but it really grates me when it becomes what I'm calling a self-indulgent madness. This when it becomes apparent to me that the characters know that their probably crazy but rather than come to their senses they continue to wallow in their own self pity and anxiety. (For example The Haunting and Eleanor). I suppose it meant to be this way, but it still bugs me a lot and personally I feel that this is what is happening in this film, though perhaps not to the extent of The Haunting.

Then again Roman Polanski knows a thing or two about repressed sexual desires coming to haunt him…whoops.

The Tenant 1976:

Out of the three films I'd say this was the one I enjoyed the most. Outside of the long opening shot of the apartment building and a few shots across the courtyard into the toilet (hello, Rear Window) I would say that it doesn't have many scenes that push the envelope like Repulsion does. Despite that its still quite a haunting film, the scene on the hospital and also the scene where we see the figure of Simone undoing her bandages in the bathroom is some seriously disturbing stuff.

While Repulsion shows the descent into madness quite obviously, The Tenant pulls it off with a bit more subtlety, though this is obviously done on purpose. All these are about paranoia and The Tenant pulls of the feeling extremely well, by the end more questions are thrown up than answered. Perhaps most interesting about this film is how the back-story of Simone plays out through Trelkovsky. By the end of the film we know more about the dead Simone than we do Trelkovsky.

Both this and Rosemary Baby reminded me of the insane ‘Delicatessen’ Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet of Amelie and Alien Resurrection fame (Best off forgetting the latter though.) especially the crazy neighbours.

Rosemarys Baby 1968:

Described on the box as ‘Possibly the best horror film ever’, not sure about that.

Unlike the other two films I had already seen Rosemary Baby and I remember disliking it immensely for some reason or another (Perhaps I missed the point first time around?). Having re-watched it and seeing it alongside Repulsion and The Tenant it actually makes a lot sense to me now. It really reminds of a great Alfred Hitchcock film.

It’s a very story-driven film and the biggest question is whether it’s real or whether it’s all within Rosemary's head, and this is where the film excels. Not much can be said without spoiling the story, which is unfortunate (wouldn’t want to do that for my many many readers). It’s quite a haunting film and the end scene is truly amazing and bizaare. The ending itself is supposed to give closure but it’s so absurd and preposterous that the biggest question is never truly answered. Mildly curious as to how the book plays out now as well, may check it out sometime.

It’s possibly the least interesting in terms of its filmic qualities. Obvious points of interest is that Rosemary's flat is obviously mundane and modern in comparison to the neighbours flat and the buildings Gothic look and the rape scene is bizarre and works perfectly.

Time to re-watch the classic Chinatown now…