With Roman Polanski still basking in the glory of his unexpected Oscar success, the time is ripe to step back a few decades and take a look at the early days of The Pianist director's compelling and controversial filmmaking career.
Sex, death and voyeurism are the helmer's hallmarks and the eight shorts included here prove they were present even in the fledgling auteur. As so often with short films, the briefer the better. A couple try the patience, but Lamp and Teeth Smile are worth watching before 1962's Knife In The Water, Polanski's first full-length feature. Confining a love triangle to a claustrophobic yacht, this talky but tense melodrama is Dead Calm with smarts.
A space-sapping, oppressive atmos-fear also informs the Pole's English-language debut, 1965's Repulsion, which blends exploitation and art to create a clammy account of the dementia suffered by a French girl in London, played by Catherine Deneuve. The star's sister, Françoise Dorléac, plays shag-happy Mrs to Donald Pleasence's ineffectual intellectual in 1966's Cul-De-Sac, a sort of proto-Straw Dogs that sees the troubled couple's island home invaded by a bellicose gangster (an outstanding Lionel Stander). Sexy, tense and original, it`s also rather unpleasant - like much of Polanski's work.