31 January 2017

La Jetée, 1962

Fig. 1 Poster

Chris Marker’s ‘La Jetée’ (1962) is an interesting French film with a complex narrative told through a serious of still black and white images. It follows the story of a man in an underground post-war camp as he is subject to an experiment involving time travel. William Whittington comments in his book ‘Sound Design and Science Fiction’ (2007) that the ‘narrative pattern is cyclical and evocative’ (Whittington, 2007:63). As a boy, the man saw a woman on a pier as she saw a man die. The woman's face stayed with him and his time travel sees him meet her again and again. As the man reaches the moment he first saw her for the second time, he is killed; the ending sees the same scene as the opening of the film. This scene is shown from the perspective of the same person at a different point in his life, as he travels backwards through time towards his own death.

Ernest Callenbach comments in his review of the film that it isn’t science fiction, as ‘it springs from our lives here now, and the threat under which we live them’ (Callenbach, 1965:51-52). The film is different from many science fiction films, but perhaps this is most evident in ways that it is different from all films, rather than in relation to genre. As William Wittington points out, the film represents an anxiety around state control of advanced technology, which is a theme present in much science fiction cinema of the time, for example; Planet of the Apes (1968), THX 1138 (1971), and Westworld (1973) (Whittington, 2007:62-64). Using a different setting to serve as a metaphor for contemporary issues is a recurring theme in science fiction, in this way ‘La Jetée’ is a good example of the genre.

Fig. 2 Statue

The film consists almost entirely of a series of still images, presented much more slowly than ordinary film. Jean-Louis Schefer comments that it could read as a ‘montage that replicates gaps in recollection’ (Schefer, 1990), and this connects with the themes of memory and perception in the film. Looking at it in this way it is as though the audience views the film as they might recall a memory, and the time travel element reflects the disjointed way people sometimes experience their memories when trying to piece together a sequence of events in their mind. Themes of stasis are recurrent; Bruce Kawin notes the statues (seen in Fig. 2) and stuffed animals placed throughout the film and. Kawin describes the film as being 'an essay on the limits of mortal consciousness.' (Kawin, 1982:20) There is a sense of being trapped, by time or the subject’s experience of it; though time travel is key in the development of the story, the audience sees the film in chronological order from the point of view of the subject experience. The subject moves towards his death as though destined to do so. In the final scene of the film the stills speed up slightly as he runs towards the woman (shown in Fig. 3), Kawin describes it as ‘an intense attempt to break into movement’ (Kawin, 1982:19). It is as though the man is desperate to escape his destiny, but there was never any chance of him doing so. 

Fig. 3 Run

The editing techniques work well to give the film a sense of progression, as Callenbach points out, ‘the shots are cut or dissolved into one another with a great fluidity and variety’ (Callenbach, 1951). Fig. 4 shows the transition between two stills, the shots and transitions used are similar to those found in an ordinary ‘moving’ film, and this helps to move the story without the use of a moving picture. Rather than counteract the effects of the still image technique, it complements it, encouraging the audience to sink into their viewing experience a little more, without interfering with the themes of stasis produced by the stills. Marker also makes use of sound in much the same way, sound is continuous and so is not broken up in the same way as the images in the film. Whittington comments that the sounds in the film are ‘applied to exacting and elegant effect’ (Whittington, 2007:62) and the score lends well to the effect of using traditional editing techniques to create a series of still images that reads as a film.

Fig. 4 Transition


Callenbach, E (1965). '‘La Jetée’' Review In: Film Quarterly 19 (2) pp. 50-52. [Online] at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1211255.pdf (Accessed on 29.01.17)

Kawin, B (1982) 'Time and Stasis in “La Jetée”' In: Film Quarterly 36 (1) pp.15-20. [Online] at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3697180?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents (Accessed on 29.01.17)

Schefer, J (1990). On ‘La Jetée’. At: http://chrismarker.org/chris-marker-2/jean-louis-schefer-on-la-jete/ (Accessed on 29.01.17)

Whittington, W (2007). Sound Design and Science Fiction. Texas: University of Texas Press. [Online] At: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5VNQhYwnSK4C&pg=PA63&dq=la+jetee+narrative&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjg2ar1utvRAhVrIsAKHWz4ALIQ6AEIPjAH#v=onepage&q&f=false (Accessed on 29.01.17)

Illustration List:

Fig. 1 Poster
Marker, C (1962). La Jetée [Poster] At: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/1e/4b/ac/1e4bac10ab35f74f5eb0a0b3e8df460b.jpg (Accessed on 29.01.17)

Fig. 2 Statue
Marker, C (1962). La Jetée [Film Still] At: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m54acfTOTm1qb83nho1_1280.png (Accessed on 29.01.17)

Fig. 3 Run
Marker, C (1962). La Jetée [Film Still] At: http://film.thedigitalfix.com/protectedimage.php?image=JohnWhite/La_Jetee_Sans_Soleil-2.jpg_12082007 (Accessed on 29.01.17)

Fig. 4 Transition
Marker, C (1962). La Jetée [Film Still] At: http://www.highonfilms.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/La-Jette_HOF5_Featured.jpg (Accessed on 29.01.17)

27 January 2017

Storyboard and Animatic - Treasure Planet

A storyboard made from the script that I wrote previously from a scene in Treasure Planet. This work was made using the script without looking at the original clip.

Sequence 01 from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.

25 January 2017

FSTS: Updated Idea - Any advice appreciated!

Two clowns are performing the end of their show at their factory. It involves conveyer belts heading towards blades and machinery picking the clowns up by their clothes. One clown gets more laughs than the other and the boring clown is very jealous.

The clowns pack up their show and get the next days show set up ready to go. The boring clown is giving the funny clown evils and then notices a tube of super glue behind him. Her eyes widen and she hastens to finish her work, not noticing that she has dropped something on the conveyer belt

The clowns are going to bed and the funny clown takes his wig and nose off and puts them on his bedside table. Some time later, early morning, a hand sneaks up with the super glue and puts some in the wig.

The next day, the clowns are performing their show. The funny clown trips over the mess the boring clown left and stumbles over, getting his wig caught in the side of the conveyer belt and heads towards an ugly death. The boring clown realises what is happening and jumps up to try and get him free. She pulls and his shoes come off, so she scrabbles to grab his ankles and pulls some more. The audience have been laughing but now some of them look concerned as the clowns get dangerously close to the blades at the end of the line. Both clowns are freaking out, the funny one having no idea why this is happening, the boring one realising that she doesn't want to be responsible for her partners death (in front of such a large audience). Finally both clowns go flying backwards down the belt and tumbling off of it on to the ground, the audience stepping back. Everyone stares with shock at the funny clown. The funny clowns wig and scalp hang from the conveyer belt and are dragged slowly into the blades.

21 January 2017

FSTS: Ideas

There is a group of clowns at a circus, they work together in their little factory to make things that fall apart easily for their show. One of the clowns doesn't look as funny as the others and doesn't get as many laughs at the show. He invests in some super glue and sticks things together so that the others' jokes fail. However, it ends up making the show funnier and the boring clown is devastated. The other clowns give him credit though and he gets clapped, his confused face also means that he gets the laughs he wanted.

Maya: Pre-Viz - Distance Tracking, Camera Coverage and Premiere

Distance Tracking

Distance_Tracking from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.
Distance_Tracking_1 from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.
Distance_Tracking_2 from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.

Camera Coverage

Camera_Coverage_1 from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.
Camera_Coverage_2 from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.
Camera_Coverage_3 from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.
Camera_Coverage_4 from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.
Camera_Coverage_5 from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.

Camera Coverage - Premiere from Eleanor Row on Vimeo.

20 January 2017

Adobe Story Practice Script - Treasure Planet

WIM: Reflective Statement

I have enjoyed this project very much. I am pleased with my work, I was worried at several points that it was going to turn out very bad, but some of the progress stages were just awkward and it was good to see the ideas in my head show through towards the end. I really enjoyed learning about textures and lighting and it was very interesting to see how much different textures affect a scene.

I misinterpreted the brief originally and made some very strange depressingly grey thumbnails. In future I will try my best to understand the brief more fully before I throw too much time into the work. I am also going to work on my time and project management, as I let myself down a bit with the slow periods in my workflow.

I have learnt a lot from this project and am excited to put this knowledge to use in future work.

WIM: Crit Presentation

WIM: Production Designer Profile

WIM: Art of Manon

18 January 2017

Drawing Session 13

20 minutes

5 minute poses

1 minute poses

Character Design Workshop 1

This exercise involved taking a character and changing their style to make them more simple or more realistic.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, 1989

Fig. 1 Poster
Peter Greenaway's 'The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover' (1989) is a very intense film, described as a 'No-Mercy Assault On The mind and senses' (Travers, 1990) by Peter Travers of Rolling Stone. The film follows the story of the titular characters, as the wife falls for the lover. It contains some very disturbing scenes, some of which could be incredibly unsettling for the viewer, but the story and characters are still compelling. Roger Ebert comments that it is a 'deliberate and thoughtful film in which the characters are believable and we care about them' (Ebert, 1999).

The wife Georgina is abused by her husband Albert and finds herself drawn to another man named Michael. Their relationship is doomed and not long after they are discovered Albert has his men torture Michael to death. This violent and cruel act is one of many Albert inflicts on those around him, both during the film and in events occurring before its start, but it seems that this is the final straw for Georgina and she plans the ultimate revenge. Ebert comments that her 'character transformation is almost frightening' (Ebert, 1999). She grows in strength throughout the film, though she seems exhausted for much of it, and Greenaway ends the film strongly with her revenge.

Fig. 2 The Red Dining Room
Greenaway uses colour to create an exaggerated and theatrical atmosphere, with each set in the film having a different colour scheme. The red dining room (as see in Fig. 2) is perhaps the most striking of the sets used, with extravagant decorations and expensively dressed guests, the room has an intense atmosphere. Red is often used to represent desire and danger, both of which are certainly in abundance in this film, and this room is a very strong setting for some very intense scenes. The rich colours and strong lighting are two of several techniques used to give the film a theatrical feel. Elements of the costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier also change colour with the sets and this is most noticeable on Georgina’s outfits. For example, Fig. 3 shows Georgina in the bathroom of the restaurant, the room is very white and her outfit changes to match this. When she enters the room, she is away from Albert and can relax a little and this is reflected in the colour choice. Greenaway encourages the audience to engage with Georgina’s character and as the mood changes from room to room the audience is given a visual signal of the effect this has on her.

Fig. 3 The White Bathroom
Theatricality is present throughout the film and this allows Greenaway to make very dramatic changes in lighting a room to affect the mood of a scene. For example, Fig. 4 shows Albert in the red dining room in the final scene of the film. The room still looks menacing, but the subdued lighting and bluer tones work well to represent how Albert’s power is being taken from him. He is a violent and angry character, but this scene shows him realising that his power has limits, and that he has not gotten away with his cruelty.

Fig. 4 Different Lighting
Caryn James of the New York Times comments that 'the film is so imbued with art and artifice that when the camera pans from one set to another, it is obvious that the fourth wall does not exist.' (James, 1990). The excellent camera work and editing make the journey from room to room seem seamless, even with the many costume changes, and the musical themes match with the camera panning. The score was composed by Michael Nyman, and works very well to emphasise the emotion and intensity of events in the narrative (Wert, 1990:45). The theatricality and artifice of the film make it incredibly striking and the score is described by James as adding ‘an immeasurable depth of feeling’. (James, 1990).


Ebert, R (1999) The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-cook-the-thief-his-wife-and-her-lover-1999 (Accessed on 04.01.17)

James, C (1990) Review/Film; Peter Greenaway's Elegant and Brutal 'Cook'. At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C0CE4DE1F3DF935A35757C0A966958260 (Accessed on 04.01.17)

Travers, P (1990) The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. At: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/the-cook-the-thief-his-wife-and-her-lover-19900406 (Accessed on 04.01.17)

Wert, W (1990) 'Review: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover by Peter Greenaway, Kees Kasander' In: Film Quarterly 44 (2) p. 45 [Online] At: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1212658?seq=4#page_scan_tab_contents (Accessed on 04.01.17)

Illustration List

Fig. 1 Poster
Greenaway, P (1989) The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover [Poster] At: http://www.joblo.com/posters/images/full/1990-the-cook-the-thief-his-wife-and-her-lover-poster2.jpg (Accessed on 18.01.17)

Fig. 2 The Red Dining Room
Greenaway, P (1989) The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover [Film Still] At: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m1k8duTW7h1qmf7lmo1_1280.png (Accessed on 18.01.17)

Fig. 3 The White Bathroom
Greenaway, P (1989) The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover [Film Still] At: http://dazedimg.dazedgroup.netdna-cdn.com/786/azure/dazed-prod/1060/9/1069891.jpg (Accessed on 18.01.17)

Fig. 4 Different Lighting
Greenaway, P (1989) The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover [Film Still] At: http://i.imgur.com/TzP1g3Q.jpg (Accessed on 18.01.17)

17 January 2017

Suspiria, 1977

Fig. 1 Poster
Dario Argento's 'Suspiria' (1977) is a strange horror film set primarily at a dance academy where strange things happen and dark secrets are uncovered. American dancer Suzy Bannion finds herself at the Tanz Dance Academy in Germany, where she experiences a number of strange occurrences, including the death of the only friend she makes there. Suzy discovers that a coven of witches runs the academy and she must escape before she is killed.

The makers of the film had inspiration from classic fairy tale sources (Gonzalez, 2001) and this can be seen reflected in the bright colours and recognisable character tropes used. Ed Gonzalez, writing for Slant Magazine, commented that 'Just as Madame Blanc and Miss Tanner are the picture-perfect renditions of evil stepmothers, the school's attendees bring to mind Cinderella's bitchy stepsisters' (Gonzalez, 2001). The story has a strange plot, and it seems that Argento made the film to show off his production design skills and really push the boundaries with set and sound design. Argento plays with colours and sound to confuse and excite the audience, creating something that Adam Smith, of Empire Online, aptly describes as a 'unique, surreal, hyper-intense mood' (Smith, 2015).

Fig. 2 Red
Argento employs vivid primary colours to create a mystical, surreal mood. Smith comments on the colourful lighting of the film, describing it as 'giving the whole film a hallucinatory intensity' (Smith, 2015). The colour of the light varies throughout the film, there doesn't always seem to be much sense surrounding which particular colour is used for which purpose, but this confusion works well to add to the mystery of the film. However, there are scenes when students are exploring the corridors of the academy where the red walls and lighting (as seen in Fig. 2) really add to the terror of the scene. Also, the use of such intense green light (as seen in Fig. 3) is particularly evocative, as red is quite quickly and easily associated with danger, but green used in this way is less common. However, the green does create quite a creepy mood, and suggests something of the supernatural, especially with red accents. The bold colours in the set and the mix of lighting work well with the chaotic plot to develop the surreal feel of the film.

Fig. 3 Green
Argento also makes use of distorted camera angles and strange sets to invite a building sense of terror in his audience. Gonzalez comments on the set, noting that 'In their higher than usual positions, the handles emphasize the youth and stature of the film's characters in relation to their grotesquely imposing doll house.' (Gonzalez, 2001). Suzy seems small in this building, the place she finds herself in is evidently strange. The airport that the film begins in is worlds away from the academy, Fig. 4 and Fig. 5 show the differences between these two settings. The realistic airport is very different from the stylistic, intense red of the academy and it is as though she has entered a different world. They are different in their sound too, the film is very quiet until Suzy exits the airport, at which point loud otherworldly music begins playing.

Fig. 4 The Airport
Fig. 5 The Academy
The sound design in the film is incredibly effective in creating a feeling of confusion and unease; it adds a sense of terror. The soundtrack consists of menacing whispers and wails mixed in with loud powerful music, that comes in much louder than any diegetic sound in the film. The difference in volume means that the audience must strain to hear the characters speak and is then knocked back when the loud music comes in. The soundtrack was written by Goblin over three months and they did a lot of experimenting with it. It was an innovative score in the horror genre, influencing John Carpenter's work on 'Halloween' (1978), itself regarded as pioneering (Twells, 2014). As Patricia MacCormack comments in her book 'Cinesexuality' (2008), 'The sounds feel traumatic(MacCormack, 2008:27); the chaotic spread of powerful colours is reflected in the unsettling mix of sounds and it works very well to create a strange and frightening mood.


Gonzalez, E (2001) Suspiria. At: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/suspiria (Accessed on 04.01.17)

MacCormack, P (2008) Cinesexuality. London: Ashgate. [Online] At: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=CmE3DAAAQBAJ&pg=PA26&dq=suspiria+1977&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi6lpj77qjRAhVCfhoKHVAbDvE4ChDoAQgfMAE#v=onepage&q&f=false

Smith, A (2015) Suspiria Review. At: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/suspiria/review/ (Accessed on 04.01.17)

Twells, J (2014) “Suspiria is the masterpiece of Goblin”: Claudio Simonetti on the best horror soundtrack of all time. At: http://www.factmag.com/2014/10/31/suspiria-is-the-masterpiece-of-goblin-claudio-simonetti-reflects-on-the-best-horror-soundtrack-of-all-time/ (Accessed on 04.01.17)

Illustration List

Fig. 1 Poster
Argento, D (1977) Suspiria [Poster] At: http://civilianglobal.com/images/sized/suspiriaposter_625_900.jpg?c2336f (Accessed on 17.01.17)

Fig. 2 Red
Argento, D (1977) Suspiria [Film Still] At: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/6d/a9/50/6da9501cb039cc556bd6b93a80cbce69.jpg (Accessed on 17.01.17)

Fig. 3 Green
Argento, D (1977) Suspiria [Film Still] At: https://stillsfrmfilms.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/272.jpg (Accessed on 17.01.17)

Fig. 4 The Airport
Argento, D (1977) Suspiria [Film Still] At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_EqD_yWiiS5U/TDoptJL_MkI/AAAAAAAADSw/4PdVeIMkxdE/s1600/Suspiria+3.jpg (Accessed on 17.01.17)

Fig. 5 The Academy
Argento, D (1977) Suspiria [Film Still] At: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NGIP-OsID-I/VVn9f94D88I/AAAAAAAAMhc/7RVK7XLEa3M/s1600/DanceAcademy1_Suspiria.jpg (Accessed on 17.01.17)

FSTS: Ideas

This is one idea I have been thinking about:
Outside of a circus, a robot clown has been thrown away after its nose falls off and no one will help it fix itself. A child notices this and tries to glue it back on.  The child takes the clown to a factory, they leave the child's mother behind at the circus without telling her. A mechanic at the factory sticks the nose on with super glue.  The child's mother rushes in: 'Mother help me my child has gone missing!', then notices the child there. It is revealed that the factory is run by the family and they offer the clown a job.

More ideas:

If a factory is run by clowns, what would they make?
Red Noses
Toys (Toy clowns?)
Custard Pies!

The factory could look like a circus, with big tents.

Why might the clown be a robot? It is in space - the nose could be broken, flashing instead of being constantly lit. The blinking light could be used at certain points to reflect the clowns emotions or progress the plot. The space circus could be a factory, with a machine mass producing clowns to destroy for entertainment and then dump in space.

Super glue could be used in a prank or in a malicious way - glue instead of custard in the pies, sticking someone to the floor, sticking something to someone.

12 January 2017

The Shining, 1980

Fig. 1 Poster

Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' (1980) is a horror film with themes of madness and isolation. It follows the story of the Torrance family as they travel to the Overlook Hotel, when Jack takes a position as winter caretaker. Jack, Wendy, and their son Danny are to spend the winter alone, as the hotel becomes inaccessible in the colder months. Fig. 2 shows the family on their way to the hotel, there is tension in the scene and the characters all seem annoyed with one another. Roger Ebert comments that 'There is no sense that the three function together as a loving family' (Ebert, 2006) and this produces a quiet tension right from the start of the film, as the audience wonders how the family will cope with their isolation.

Fig. 2 The Family

The family have a literal physical isolation to contend with, which could be difficult enough, but the nature of the place they find themselves in adds to their difficulties. The set is made up of large spaces, high ceilings and a repetitive and confusing layout. Ryan Lambie comments that 'The set generates tension not through claustrophobia and dark spaces, but with high ceilings and lonely expanses' (Lambie, 2016). The characters are lost in this space and, rather than creating an open feeling, the high ceilings seem to sit heavily above them, showing them to be small and alone. Fig. 3 shows Jack sat in the lounge, completely dwarfed by the size of the room; big chairs, tables, and light fixtures add to this effect. Kubrick’s heavy use of one point perspective also helps to create this feeling, as long hallways seem to press in on all sides.

Fig. 3 Jack in the lounge

Kubrick’s use of the recently invented Steadicam allowed for smooth and sweeping shots and Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine describes the cinematography as 'gliding, prowling' (Henderson, 2007). This is particularly effective in a scene with the camera closely following Danny as he explores the long hallways on his trike; there is a sense of being followed, and the smoothness of the movement lends to a supernatural feeling. Lambie describes the interior of the hotel as feeling ‘palpably evil' (Lambie, 2016). The audience gets to see the scene from Danny’s point of view and he is positioned very low to the ground, even for a child, making the ceilings seem incredibly far away, as though he has found himself in another world. When Danny encounters two other children, his lowered perspective makes them seem strangely tall and out of place (as seen in Fig. 4). Even if the hotel wasn’t supposed to be empty and the audience had not already learned of two children murdered there a previous winter, they would likely seem like they did not belong there. 

Fig. 4 Danny on his trike

Confusion and a lack of explanation are important elements in the building terror of the film. There are many plot elements that build mystery into the film, such as unanswered questions about the mental or supernatural nature of the strange goings on at the hotel, but the set also works to create a sense of uncertainty. The hotel is never fully explored, and the long corridors, described by Tim Robey as ‘hypnotically patterned’ (Robey 2012), could hide any number of horrors, real or imagined. Patterns can also be found on the carpets and they work to distort how the space is perceived by the audience. Sound is another tool used to create unease and uncertainty. Kubrick uses the work of several composers to create a score described by Janet Maslin as ‘stunningly effective’ (Maslin, 1980). Loud music and strange sounds build tension, only for nothing to happen, disquieting the audience and making it more frightening when something does happen, even if that something is only text appearing on screen.


Ebert, R (2006) Great Movie The Shining. At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-shining-1980 (accessed 12.01.17)

Henderson, E (2007) The Shining. At: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/the-shining (accessed 12.01.17)

Lambie, R (2016) Iconic Set Design: The Shining's Overlook. At: http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/18283/iconic-set-design-the-shinings-overlook-hotel (accessed 12.01.17)

Robey, T (2012) Still shining darkly after all these years. At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/classic-movies/9637505/Still-shining-darkly-after-all-these-years.html (accessed 12.01.17)

Maslin, J (1980) Movie Review The Shining. At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF1738E270BC4B51DFB366838B699EDE (accessed 12.01.17)

Illustration List

Fig. 1 Poster
Kubrick, S (1980) The Shining. [Poster] At: http://thefoxisblack.com/blogimages//saul-bass-the-shining-film-poster-1.jpg (accessed 12.01.17)

Fig. 2 The Family
Kubrick, S (1980) The Shining. [Film Still] At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0w3LQwsosUY/UCTWIPWuMiI/AAAAAAAAJIE/JwmCSoRItSI/s1600/(1980)+The+Shining+Screenshot+7.png (accessed 12.01.17)

Fig. 3 Jack in the lounge
Kubrick, S (1980) The Shining. [Film Still] At: http://www.theshining2.com/images/Loungelarge.jpg (accessed 12.01.17)

Fig. 4 Danny on his trike
Kubrick, S (1980) The Shining. [Film Still] At: https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/the-shining.jpg?w=670&h=377&crop=1 (accessed 12.01.17)

11 January 2017

Repulsion, 1965

Roman Polanski's 'Repulsion' (1965) is a British horror film, following a young woman, Carol, as her mental state begins to deteriorate after she is left alone by her sister. It is described by Peter Bradshaw, of The Guardian, as a 'deeply disturbing, horribly convincing psychological thriller’ (Bradshaw, 2013). Carol avoids the gaze and touch of men, she is likely in regular physical contact with women due to her job at a beauty salon, but this would be in a professional and clinical. Carol is physically and emotionally isolated, she seems on edge from the start of the film and when left alone her anxiety warps and develops into psychosis as she acts strangely, experiences hallucinations, and becomes violent. The set design and camera work are very good at creating tension, and a feeling of trepidation. Carol kills two men during the film, her would be boyfriend Colin, who seems concerned about her, and her Landlord who genuinely attempts to take advantage of her illness and her underdressed state. Sex and relationships seem to be of great importance to her family and friends, she feels that this is the same for every person she encounters and it is something she cannot relate to. She is isolated from the start, even before her sister leaves.

Fig. 1 Poster

Perhaps one of the most disturbing elements of the film is seeing the events of the film from the point of view of a murderer, rather than a victim, or intended victim. Carol slowly loses herself to her fear of men and her disgust around sex, her isolation exacerbating the situation. Kim Newman, writing for Empire Online, notes that ‘Rather than making a mad person scary, the film terrifies by giving an audience a sense of what it’s like to lose sanity' (Newman, 2015). There are several scenes in the film where the camera follows Carol, particularly as she travels to and from work. Carol is uneasy when she encounters men who desire her (such as the workers shown in Fig. 2) and Polanski uses the camera to invite the audience to experience that unease for themselves.

Fig. 2 Carol and the workers

Carol begins to hallucinate and her world warps into something truly unpleasant. Bradshaw writes that 'The nightmare she creates for herself is one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen in the cinema' (Bradshaw, 2013). The apartment changes over the duration of the film, almost as though its layout is different each time we see it. Sometimes the changes are quite subtle, but by the end of the film, it is unrecognisable. Carol sees the rooms as massive, and she wanders about, lost. Polanski shows Carol’s isolation visually and is explicit in showing the audience the disturbing state of her mind. Bosley Crowther, writing around the time of the film’s release, comments that the 'Distortions in the rooms of the apartment tacitly reveal her mental state' (Crowther, 1965). There are some far more obvious moments in the film where the apartments changes around her, with cracks appearing in the walls (as shown in Fig. 3), the walls becoming soft and fleshy, and finally, hands bursting through this fleshy layer to grab at her. The hands (as shown in Fig. 4), grab at Carol and, with her own mind attacking her, her deepest fears of intimacy seem to become reality.

Fig. 3 Crack

Fig. 4 Hands

The musical score of the film is excellent in showing Polanski’s vision of terror; Crowther writes that ‘with sound, too, Mr. Polanski weaves a fabric of tremendous effects.’ (Crowther, 1965). Carol is terrified of men and disgusted by sex, but she hallucinates a rapist, attacking her at night several times. During these scenes, her screams are seen but not heard (Fig. 5), and the violently tense music present in the much of the film is gone, replaced by a ticking clock. She resigns herself to this invasion of her mind and body in the end, applying lipstick to ready herself for her attacker, perhaps planning to try and enjoy it, and to see what the big deal is about sex. The viewer does get to hear her initial scream during this final assault, as she realises that no, she will not enjoy this.

Fig. 5 A silent scream

Polanski shows time passing with not just in these moments with the ticking clock, but through the development of potatoes left out, and the rotting of a rabbit carcass. The rabbit becomes a symbol of Carol’s worsening mental state, as she seems unconcerned by the disgusting state of it as it rots. At one point, in a shocking moment, the viewer discovers that she has brought the head of this rotting corpse with her to work in her handbag. Polanski uses all the tools available to him to unsettle the audience. Crowther is blunt, but accurate, in writing; 'Prepare yourself to be demolished when you go to see it' (Crowther, 1965).


Bradshaw, P (2013) Repulsion - Review. At: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jan/03/repulsion-review (accessed on 19.12.16)

Crowther, B (1965) Movie Review Repulsion. At: (http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF1739E471BC4C53DFB667838E679EDE (accessed on 19.12.16)

Newman, K (2015) Repulsion Review. At: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/repulsion/review/ (accessed on 19.12.16)

Illustration List

Fig. 1 Poster
Polanski, R (1965) 'Repulsion' [Poster] At: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dQanSDrXXFc/VHhjDydeg_I/AAAAAAAAAVM/5Z8sjq1UJvQ/s1600/repulsion-movie-poster-1965-1020434006.jpg (accessed on 19.12.16)

Fig. 2 Carol and the workers
Polanski, R (1965) 'Repulsion' [Film Still] At: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hgnf8NkFVsM/VGu-gIJDJcI/AAAAAAAABew/pn89AIAuC-k/s1600/Still%2B4.png (accessed on 19.12.16)

Fig. 3 Crack
Polanski, R (1965) 'Repulsion' [Film Still] At: https://mattystanfield.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/repulsion_shot25l.jpg
(accessed on 19.12.16)

Fig. 4 Hands
Polanski, R (1965) 'Repulsion' [Film Still] At: http://popcultureandfeelings.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/repulsion_shot13l.jpg (accessed on 19.12.16)

Fig. 5 A silent scream

Polanski, R (1965) 'Repulsion' [Film Still] At: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--m4Fsxwraks/UK-C2KR5LII/AAAAAAAAEl8/3YHT35tjG0U/s1600/51-35-ScreamWithoutSound.jpg (accessed on 19.12.16)