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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 10 November 2003
This boxset shows how capable DVD is of offering a great film package to the cineaste- this set focuses on the early work of Roman Polanski, prior to his descent into mediocrity with films like Pirates, Frantic & The Ninth Gate (with the odd good film like Tess, Bitter Moon & Death and the Maiden) Included in this set are not only great documentaries on those early films (featurettes/trailers etc) but a series of surreal short films (Two Men & a Wardrobe, When Angels Fall, A Murderer etc) that rank next to the best of European cinema (Antonioni, Bunuel, Herzog,Vigo) & are worth the price of entry alone. Here we can see how vital the short film is, & how Polanksi began to deal with certain themes that would recur, notably in the periof from his debut Knife in the Water to The Tenant (1976).
Knife in the Water (Noz w Wodzie, 1962) was Polanski's Oscar-nominated debut- detailing a young couple intersecting with a lone hitchhiker on a yacht. Predating Dead Calm (1989) by a few decades &, like Hitchcock, there is a sense of sex & violence lurking beneath the surface. A bold debut & the kind of thriller that is sadly not seen these days **** Repulsion (1965) saw Polanski come to the UK, personally I think this is his strongest film, just pipping Chinatown (1974) in the masterpiece stakes. Here Catherine Deneuve plays a lone Belgian manicurist in swinging London, slowly going insane & drifting into psychopathic behaviour- somewhere between Blow Up (1966) & JG Ballard's book The Atrocity Exhibition (1968) in tone. Elements are shared with Hitchcock (notably Psycho) and later films such as Night of the Living Dead, Shivers (which has a not unsimilar hands through walls scene), Hellraiser (taking back men to kill)& parts of David Lynch- notably Mulholland Drive. The dialogue & plot are minimal, the film relies on atmosphere and imagery- disturbing, potent, surreal...Repulsion is, to quote JG Ballard, "Kafka reshot in the style of Psycho". Polanski's masterpiece, a cerebral horror film that might be locked into a period but remains timeless ***** The final film in this set is Cul-De-Sac(1966), the last film he made in Europe prior to moving to Hollywood to make films like The Fearless Vampire Killers & Rosemary's Baby. Polanski has often cited this as his favourite film- there is more than a hint of Harold Pinter (The Dumb Waiter, The Birthday Party) here- a black comedy with gangsters and cross-dressing in! The performances are great, notably from Donald Pleasance & Catherine Deneuve's sister, the late Francoise Dorleac. The film feels European and strange in tone- which is only something that recurs in Polanski's later work to a small degree (eg. the Kitty-nosecutting scene in Chinatown; Adjani in The Tenant) It's odd & absurd and endearing & is, in truth, almost brilliant ****
This DVD boxset is a great primer in Roman Polanski, each of the films are well worth watching, though perhaps it's the short-films that are the most interesting (these three films have been on VHS before, Cul&Repulsion both budget priced VHS-videos). A wonderful set & evidence of how great DVD's can be when put together with something more than just a few offcuts and lame interviews/commentaries, prior to a two-disc "definitive" set within the year, with more chuff etc.
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on 27 July 2015
A little odd
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on 10 April 2007
Because Polanski made it as a popular Hollywood director it might be feared that his films would get the shoddy corporate reissue treatment, but this is a fantastic box-set worthy of any conscientious art-house dvd release. It's a beautifully put together package with booklet & lots of extras, documentaries & interviews etc plus a whole disc of early short films from the Poland days, some of which I hadn't seen & all of which are interesting. I'm sure everyone reading this has seen the 3 main movies in this box, they all stand up as classics, both Knife & Cul de Sac would figure in my all time favourites list and it is good to see them in new pristine prints that really capture that beautiful black & white cinematography.

Definitely worth picking up this box, especially at a nice cheap discount price.
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on 25 December 2011
Loved this set. As has been said elsewhere, the 'extras' are really worth having, especially Polanski talking about his own work. It's especially interesting to gather just how tenuous his route out of Poland was. A soft-porn producer for 'Repulsion' and 'Cul de Sac'? Fantastic... It's reminiscent of a lettuce-farmer putting up the cash for 'High Noon' and, indeed, for pretty much every other independent movie-maker's odyssey in our own times. I also think that the only valuable things ever said about a director's work are said by the director him or herself. I picked up a book of interviews with Almodovar a few years ago in which that hugely talented director revealed that in fifteen years of directing films, no one had asked him before why or how he made his films... This Polanski set is nicely packaged and, with Polanski's first shorts included, is unusually complete in its summation of his film-making beginnings, even if the route out of his film-school to his first feature is not utterly apparent! And yet, Levi-Strauss said of Mankind something like, 'He is only truly great in his first productions'. I guess that could be emended to say something like, 'Man is greatest in his first productions'. There will almost never be a stronger start in directing than 'Knife in the Water'. We gather Jack Nicholson's favourite early Polanski is 'Cul de Sac'. Others favour 'Repulsion'. It doesn't matter. This set will be opened for as long as people remember and admire film-making.
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on 10 June 2013
Three incredible films here to sink ones analytical teeth into. Actually, an excellent balance between entertainment and the technical. Was especially bowled over by Repulsion; must've been the mark for so many phsychological dramas. Also, 8 shorts, all well worth a look. I've seen many Polanski films in my time, and the quality is always high, but these particularly have feature-length integrity. Magic.
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on 1 September 2009
The superlative director, Roman Polanski, has a collection here to be treasured. I last saw his superb film, Repulsion, some twenty years ago and watching it again here reminded me of the immense pleasure I reaped from his direction and, the excellent, possibly, her best, performance from Catherine Deneuve, as the fragile 'Carol'. Gil Taylor's masterful cinematography had me pausing and playing throughout my viewing, with his and Polanski's attention to detail, second to none. The use of lenses, shadows and framing had me salivating! I have re-viewed this film twice since.
Voted as one of my most respected films ever, Repulsion, has it all in hard black & white. With Director and Catherine Deneuve commentaries in addition to other extras, this is one heck of a movie experience.
In contrast, I had not seen Knife in the Water or Cul-de Sac before and both proved mesmeric to watch. Excellent performances from all actors with the usual attention to detail from Polanski and his team.
For 'the first time ever', Roman Polanski's 8 shorts on dvd was a real bonus. Polanski's attention to detail, yet again, developing through his early works, is wonderful to watch and make note of. His sensitivity to social injustices flourishing in these short works. A marvellous insight into the young directors psyche.
This collection goes to the top of the pile!
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on 4 April 2016
Essential for Polanski's fans and also useful for bookish about his movies
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on 16 March 2016
Great collection, however, the lack of subtitles is a glaring omission.
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on 25 July 2013
one reason,and that is REPULSION.
The other two are add ons and have yet to see them,and I do look forward to that.
This film I saw years ago when working in London.
I had arrived there after leaving the Royal Air Force, in 1970,and after a few months
I felt down and all alone,untill I saw Repulsion,and realised I was not going insane after all
and seeing it made me want to live and enjoy London and LIFE.
Buy this take it as it is and you can learn from it,even if your not in some busy town.
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on 28 October 2015
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