ROMAN POLANSKI: Wanted and Desired
A documentary film by Marina Zenovich 2008
I wonder if the people who’ve been calling for Roman Polanski’s head—and his body, back here in the USA—know all the confusing details of the case? I suspect not; if they did, they couldn’t possibly see the issue in stark black-and-white terms. But if they care about it as passionately as they claim, they ought to see this documentary. Using actual footage from the period of Polanski’s trial and interviews with celebrities as well as people like the Los Angeles DA and Polanski’s lawyer, this film tells a story that’s far too murky to be easily understood. Armchair prosecutors, among others, should keep their opinions to themselves if they aren’t based on the full reality. In a situation with so much confusion, it’s sometimes hard to separate reality from drama. A few facts:
• Roman Polanski was not convicted of rape; he was convicted of unlawful consensual sex. Some might not think the distinction’s important, but it is—for one thing, under French law a rapist would have been extradited, but not someone who committed an unlawful consensual sex act.
• The judge in Polanski’s case jerked him around to enhance his own public image. After Polanski had agreed to a plea bargain and public opinion ran against him for being soft, he changed his original sentence.
• Polanski’s lawyer petitioned to have the judge removed from the case, and won. The new judge made a deal that was going to bring Polanski back from Paris, but at the last minute decided the proceedings would be televised—apparently he too was a publicity hound. Polanski, who eight years before had been accused by the press of being his wife’s murderer, and was hounded so relentlessly he developed a fear and loathing of the media, refused to participate in televised proceedings.
• Samantha Geimen, Polanski’s alleged victim, settled a civil suit with him out of court, and in 1997 she publicly forgave him. She says the plea bargain and trial-by-press had absolutely nothing to do with what had happened to her.
• The Los Angeles District Attorney said he didn’t blame Polanski for fleeing the country after what the judge did to him.
I don’t know what should happen now, but I certainly don’t think Roman Polanski got away with anything. And I don’t think his defenders are just deluded anti-feminists. I just wish people would recognize and admit they don’t know everything about everything, and it’s not mandatory to have an opinion about every single thing that happens in this world of ours.
Coda: Just found this up-to-the-minute news about the documentary and its role in the case.