Wednesday, 19 December 2012

English Heretic Present: The Apartment Trilogy

Taking place during the Glasgow film festival, "The Apartment Trilogy" is a creative magical investigation into Roman Polanski's three interior studies from Repulsion via Rosemary's Baby to The Tenant. Could it be that the first two films in the series inadvertently or presciently precipitated the murder of Sharon Tate in some kind of brutal melange of their imagistic narratives.

And was The Tenant Polanski's admission, unconscious or otherwise of his role and guilt in the celluloid prophecies of his earlier films. Taking props and footage from Thurloes Beauty parlour in South Kensington, London, the actual location of the hairdresser's in Repulsion, we will reconstruct an inner cinema of Catherine Deneuve's psychotic breakdown at the venue of the Old Hairdresser's in Glasgow.

A second set of performance by The Blue True will soundtrack key scenes from Rosemary's Baby. The event will culminate with a screening of The Tenant, Polanski's self starring paranoid masterpiece.

Between 1965 and 1976 Roman Polanski directed three films exploring the psychosis of interiors – his apartment trilogy beginning with Repulsion via Rosemary's Baby and culminating with The Tenant. Repulsion features Carol, a schizophrenic hairdresser, the traumas of her childhood unleashed by adult isolation in a hostile city. As her psychosis deepens she retreats to her apartment, where the walls of her identity become persecutory agents. With the logic of her devastating illness rendering the interface between the concrete and the human a florid nightmare she murders a licentious suitor and her overbearing landlord.

In 1968, married to Sharon Tate, Polanski's composed the ultimate birth anxiety dream of Rosemary's Baby. Filmed in the gothic Dakota Building, where John Lennon was murdered in 1980, Mia Farrow is the paranoid mother-to-be, convinced that her avuncular neighbours are part of a Satanic cult. Moreover, she experiences recovered memories of the conception, a black mass, overseen by an Anton Lavey like devil.

In August 1969, the schizophrenic cult leader Charles Manson ordered his disciples to Cielo Drive in LA. There they butchered the now pregnant Sharon Tate in a horrific collage of these two films. Did Polanski somehow through a cinematic prescience foretell his own tragedy; or more troubling did the films serve as some kind of accidental occult operation precipitating the blind atavisms of the demon spheres to seek reification in the concrete world?

Polanski waited until 1976 to release his paranoid confessional, The Tenant, in which the director himself plays a timid Parisian who takes the room of a woman who has attempted suicide by throwing herself from her apartment. As with Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion, the neighbours become grotesque persecutors – this time urging the protagonist to act an of defenestration. The toilet becomes an hieroglyph adorned hypogeum as Polanski's cross dresses into the persona of its previous tenant. Was Polanski's casting of himself in the final act of the Apartment Trilogy a recognition of his unconscious culpability in the slaying of his wife? Who was the previous tenant of the apartment – the ghost of his butchered wife, or Polanski's sublimely paranoid muse?