Sunday, January 27, 2008

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

Tate & Polanski then. Polanski now.
UPDATE 27 January - Here is a new article from Reuters, through Yahoo News, about this controversial documentary. It just won the Documentary Editing Award at the Sundance International Film Festival. Even with all the hype, it received only this one award.

Original Post, 20 January - Marina Zenovich's documentary, ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED, about the Oscar-winning director, made its debut at the Sundance International Film Festival this weekend. Also, it was announced the film has a worldwide distribution deal from the Weinstein Co., from which the documentary division of HBO obtained the North American rights.

It was 30 years ago this past August that I met Roman Polanski at the Berlin Film Festival, which was then held in summer. Polanski arrived with a beautiful young woman on each arm. He was on the lam in Europe following a warrant for his arrest for statutory rape, having been charged with having sex with a 13-year-old girl, and fleeing the USA. The incident happened in Actor Jack Nicholson's home.

Many in 1977 Berlin hastened to cut Polanski slack because his behavior had been erratic following the loss of his beautiful actress-wife Sharon Tate, 25, and their unborn child. Both were murdered by Charles Manson and Manson's drug-crazed cohorts during an invasion of the Polanski home in 1969. Others maintained that there was no excuse for statutory rape. The next day, pictures of Polanski at the festival were published in the national press, and he high-tailed it back to France where he still maintains his citizenship.

Polanski married French actress Emmanuelle Seigner in 1989, who is over thirty years his junior, and they have two children. He directed her in FRANTIC, 1988.

Polanski, now 74, continues to work in Europe, mostly France, and has never returned to the U.S. In 2003, he won the Academy Award for THE PIANIST, but he did not attempt to return. Nicholson is still a "Hollywood darling."

Director Marina Zenovich has never interviewed Polanski. However, she did speak with Polanski's lawyer, the victim, her attorney, law enforcement officials, film industry colleagues and reporters who covered the case, among others. They all revealed troubling behavior by the judge, now deceased, who was so driven by media coverage that he kept a scrapbook of clippings. Polanski presumably fled because he feared unfair treatment amid the media frenzy.

The documentary is a patchwork quilt of comments and archived clips, similar to Ken Burn's documentary style, all designed to lead the viewer to draw conclusions. The subtext of the bizarre occurrences remains, "To what extent Polanski's state of mind, after the senseless killings of his wife and unborn child, might have contributed to his supposed lack of judgment that led to his subsequent fugitive status?"

There are still the questions as to whether the movie ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968), directed by Polanski and released shortly before the murders, may have influenced the demented Manson to choose Polanski's home that night in 1969. Some suggested that Manson's warped mind may have perceived Sharon Tate as carrying the spawn of the Devil, because Polanski directed a movie about a woman carrying the child of the Devil. Therefore, the Polanski's child might have equated to a spawn of the Devil in Manson's mind. Yes, I know. It is demented thinking, but it was postulated at the time.

Will this documentary answer all your questions about Polanski and his sex with a minor? Doubtful. It may raise more questions.

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