Summer Classics Series: 2 By Roman Polanski

2 By PolanskiBorn in Paris and raised and educated in Poland, Roman Polanski first emerged as a directorial force in the 1960s, making several surreal shorts (his film school thesis film, Two Men and a Wardrobe, is well known even today), and the erotically-charged thriller Knife in the Water (1962). Polanski then went to England to make the stunning Repulsion (1965), the black comedy Cul-de-Sac (1966) and the horror spoof The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), before being brought to the USA to make the highly influential occult film Rosemary’s Baby (1968). This success would be followed by Macbeth (1971), and the now-classic Chinatown (1974). 

As his career skyrocketed, Polanski’s personal life was beset by tragedy and scandal. His wife Sharon Tate, eight months pregnant at the time, was murdered by the Manson family in 1969. In 1978, after pleading guilty to having sex with a minor, Polanski fled the U.S. to seek refuge in France. He has not returned to the United States since. The Tenant (1976) would be the last film that Polanski made before his European exile began. His films since then, including Tess (1979), Bitter Moon (1992), Death and the Maiden (1994) and The Pianist (2002), are generally regarded as uneven, and — aside from The Pianist — have not met with the acclaim that his earlier films received.

As a director, one of Polanski’s undeniable strengths has always been his ability to create an atmosphere that is always both genuinely unsettling and completely appropriate. He is constantly drawn to the dark side of human nature, as evidenced by his favourite genres: suspense, horror, and mystery. He is a nihilist; yet at the same time, all of his films are marked by his own personal brand of dark humour, one that often manages to increase the tension rather than lighten it. Our “Frames of Mind” Summer Classics series this year features two of Polanski’s superb psychological horror films, both of which tackle the theme of a descent into madness with the iconoclastic director’s trademark emotional acuity, visual stylishness and blackly comic wit.

The Tenant (Le locataire)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 – 7:30pm
France 1976. Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Shelley Winters, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Ann Fleet
Post-screening discussion with Dr. Roland Atkinson

The TenantA macabre tale of insanity, claustrophobia and transposable identity starring the film’s masterful director Roman Polanski.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 – 7:30pm
Great Britain 1965. Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser, Yvonne Furneaux, Patrick Wymark
Post-screening discussion with Brian Ganter
Presented in partnership with Pacific Cinémathèque’s Education Department.

of modern cinema’s most masterful studies of mental breakdown,
Catherine Deneuve stars as Carol, an isolated young woman who believes
she has been sexually assaulted.

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