Thanks to the trials and tribulations of his real life, Roman Polanski remains a polarizing director. While there is no argument to his prowess as a director and filmmaker, the criminal charges he faced almost four decades ago taints any work he does for many people. However, when removing the man from the equation, the filmmaker’s work is among cinema’s best.
On October 30, 2012, the Criterion Collection releases the DVD and Blu-ray of Polanski’s horror masterpiece, “Rosemary’s Baby.” With that classic on the way, here is a look at other Polanski films in the Criterion Collection.
“Knife in the Water”
Roman Polanski made his movie debut with the 1962 film, “Knife in the Water.” The movie is a psychological thriller with a hitchhiker joining up with a young couple for a weekend trip. While aboard a yacht, the two men begin a psychological war, vying for the attention of the woman. While slammed by critics in Polanski’s home country of Poland, it gained critical acclaim elsewhere, winning the Critics’ Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1962 and picking up an Oscar nomination.
Criterion Collection only offers the movie in DVD format. The basic DVD has a video interview with Polanski and screenwriter Jerzy Skolimowski, a collection of Polanski short films and publicity stills. There is also an “Essential Art House” bare bones version.
Polanski directed “Repulsion” in 1965, his follow-up to “Knife in the Water.” Catherine Deneuve stars as a woman slowly going insane when left alone while her sister is away on vacation. She soon finds herself haunted by evil, both real and imagined, and the movie is one of the ’60s defining examples of psychological horror. The film almost seems like a mix of Hitchcock and the Billy Wilder’s, “The Lost Weekend.”
“Repulsion” is available from Criterion on Blu-ray and DVD and features an audio commentary with Polanski and Deneuve, a making-of documentary from 2003, and television documentary about the film from 1964 and the trailers.
Polanski released “Cul-de-sac” in 1966, three years before the Manson cult invaded his home and murdered his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate. In a bit of irony, this movie was also about a home invasion, as an American gangster invades the home of a withdrawn couple and holds them hostage. What results is a dark comedy and one of the most unique movies of the director’s career.
The Criterion Collection release includes a 2003 documentary about the making of the film, television interviews with Polanski from 1967 and trailers.