A Moebial Ride through Polanski’s Repulsion

Defne Tüzün


This article examines Roman Polanski’s film Repulsion from a psychoanalytic perspective by attending Julia Kristeva’s notion of abjection. This paper deals primarily with two main focal points. First, it focuses on the film’s portrayal of the protagonist, Carole’s abjection, her problem of non-differentiation, as evidenced by her relation to the maternal body and to corporeality. Secondly, the article investigates how the film positions its viewers with regard to Carole. It questions how Repulsion impels its spectators to engage Carole with a similar non-differentiation by generating a complex web of ambiguities with regard to the differentiation between external/internal, objective/subjective and reality/fantasy.  


Kristeva; Freud; abjection; corporeality; primal scene; fetishism

Full Text:



Beardsworth, S. (2004) Julia Kristeva: Psychoanalysis and Modernity. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Black, P. (2006) The Beauty Industry: Gender, Culture, Pleasure. New York: Routledge.

Cowie, E. (1997) Representing the Women: Cinema and Psychoanalysis. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Evans, D. (1997) An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. London: New York: Routledge.

Freud, S. (1908/1959) On the Sexual Theories of Children. Standard Edition, 9. London: Hogarth Press, pp. 205-226.

Freud, S. (1917/1957) Mourning and melancholia. Standard Edition, 14. London: Hogarth Press, pp. 243–258.

Freud, S. (1927/1961) Fetishism. Standard Edition, 21. London: Hogarth Press, pp. 147-158.

Kristeva, J. (1980) Powers of Horror: An essay on abjection. Translated by Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Colombia University Press.

Kristeva, J. (1987) Tales of Love. Translated by Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press.

Laplanche, J. and Pontalis, J.-B. (1988) The Language of Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac Books.

Oliver, K. (1992) Nourishing the Speaking Subject: A Psychoanalytical Approach to Abominable Food and Women. In: Deane W. Curtin and Lisa M. Heldke (eds.) Cooking, Eating, Thinking: Transformative Philosophies of Food. Bloomington: Indiana University, pp. 68-84.

Polanski, R. (dir.) (1965) Repulsion. Compton/Tekli.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2020.323


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Defne Tüzün

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This journal is published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh

ISSN 2159-2411 (print) 2158-8724 (online)