So, you do know how to swim.         Knife in the Water (1962)
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June Issue

Classic Film


In June we are looking back at the early work of Roman Polanski. Before his life became a soap opera, Polanski was better known as a great and innovative filmmaker. We're traveling back to a time before he met Sharon Tate, before the Manson Family came trgically into his life, before the rape allegations, and before a life spent avoiding the US authorities.

But before we screen his first two feature films (Knife in the Water and Repulsion), we invite you to visit our website and look at a few of his short films, from his time as a film student in Poland.

And then be sure to join us in June for two intriguing Polanski feature films
Classic Actors
Catherine Deneuve - an early Polanski collaborator
It could be said that Catherine Deneuve was born to be an actress. Her parents were actors and she made her movie debut at age 13 in The Twilight Girls (1957), and this was followed by a number of small parts in minor films. Her breakthrough came with the musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) under the direction of Jacques Demy. Early in her career she took a risk and accepted the part of a schizophrenic killer in Roman Polanski's Repulsion (our Sunday night film) and two years later played a married woman who works as a part-time prostitute every afternoon in Luis Buñuel's masterpiece Belle de Jour (1967). In 1969 she appeared in François Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid (1969).

So by the age of 25 she had appeared in films by many of the World’s great directors of the time.

To date Deneuve has appeared in 121 films and continues to be an actress much in demand. She has  recently been in the news for her
appearance at the Cannes film festival for the screening of her most recent film, and for criticizing social media for demystifying and destroying the romance of stardom. And she has appeared on the most recent cover of French Satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Deneuve is a cinema great. Be sure to see her at the height of her powers in our Sunday night screening of Repulsion.

Film genres - Thrillers
The Thriller is a genre that uses suspense, tension, and excitement as its main elements in an effort to stimulate the viewer's moods, giving them great anticipation, heightened expectation, uncertainty, surprise, anxiety, terror, or any combination or those emotions.
A thriller provides the sudden rush of excitement, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace. It keeps the audience on the "edge of their seats" as the plot builds towards a climax and along the way the audience is asked to deal with red herrings, plot twists, and cliffhangers.
Alfred Hitchcock was a great proponent of the Thriller due to his macabre fascination with psychological, threatening, and mysterious storylines. In fact, Hitchcock alomg with Fritz Lang helped to shape the genre with films such as The Lodger (1926) and M (1931).
The primary elements of the thriller genre:
  • The protagonist(s) faces death, either his and/or her or somebody else's.
  • The force(s) of the antagonist's must initially be cleverer and/or stronger than the protagonist's.
  • The main storyline for the protagonist is either a quest or a character that cannot be put down.
  • The main plotline focuses on a mystery that must be solved.
  • The film's narrative construction is dominated by the protagonist's point of view.
  • There may be a suspenseful and atmospheric soundtrack for the scenes of suspense.
  • All action and characters must be credibly realistic or natural in their representation on screen.
  • The two major themes that underpin the thriller genre are the desire for justice and the morality of individuals.
  • One small, but significant, aspect of a thriller is the presence of innocence in what is seen as an essentially corrupt world.
  • The protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) may battle, themselves and each other, not just on a physical level, but on a mental one as well.
  • Either by accident or their own curiousness, each character is dragged into a dangerous conflict or situation that they are not prepared to resolve.
Some examples of Thrillers we have already screened include: Laura, Dial M for Murder, Niagara, M, The Night of the Hunter, Double Indemnity, D.O.A., The Wages of Fear, and Charade. And our two Polanski films (Repulsion and Knife in the Water) are also Thrillers.
Early Polanski
Looking back on Polanski's career in film, there is good reason to focus on his first two feature films. It was a turbulent time in his professional life (as opposed to his personal life), and the films themselves are still considered to have a great degree of merit.

In 1961 Polanski had recently graduated from the National film school in Lotz, had completed a short film in France, and was seeking financial support for his first feature in Poland. The communist government of the time exterted a great of control over potential dissidents (artists) and for filmmakers this included a committee that reviewed scripts, a funding body, they supervised actual filming and like all countries  had a board of review (or censorship)

Polanski's first feature (Knife in the Water) fell at the first hurdle... the governmetn didn't like the script. They felt it 'lacked social commitment'. All funding bodies are opaque when it comes to their decision-making process, but the communists were perhaps moreso. Polanski then sought funding in France, but when that fell through he relented and made enough changes to the script to please the government. The film was made, and when it was released the Polish government still didn't like it. So Polanski didn't make another film in Poland for 40 years.

But make up your own mind about Knife in the Water by coming along to our screening on Saturday the 6th of June 
Knife in the Water was a big international success, getting an Academy award nomination for best foreign film, but losing out to Fellini's '8 1/2'.

Polanski was drawn to the UK and moved to London at a time when it was the fashion and cutural centre of the world. But as he has done his entire career, Polanski was seemingly uninfluenced by those living around him. His second feature (Repulsion) while being set in 'Swinging London' was mostly unaffected by it.

And that is the way Polanski has continued his entire career, making the films that he wants to make, regardless of where those films are being made and who is funding them.

It's worth seeing where Polanski started his journey in filmmaking at our June screenings.


Saturday, 6th of June

7pm start

Knife in the Water (1962)

Andrzej and Krystyna's marriage is troubled.
While driving through the countryside on their way to the lake, they meet a young male hitchhiker and invite him to join them on the boat.

Drama/ Thriller    Rated: M    94 mins
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Sunday, 7th of June

7pm start

Repulsion (1965)

Left alone when her sister goes on vacation, a young beauty finds herself besieged on all sides by the demons of her past.

Drama /Horror/ Thriller   Rated: M     105 mins
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