Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski at Cannes in 2013 cropped and brightened.jpg
Born
Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański

(1933-08-18) 18 August 1933 (age 86)
Paris, France
CitizenshipPoland, France[1]
OccupationFilm director, producer, writer, actor
Years active1953–present
Spouse(s)
Children2; including Morgane Polanski
Conviction(s)Statutory rape (1978)[2]
Capture status
International fugitive[2]
Wanted by
California
Wanted since1978

Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański (born 18 August 1933) is a French-Polish[3] film director, producer, writer, and actor. Since 1978, he has been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system, having fled the country while awaiting sentencing in his sexual abuse case, in which he pleaded guilty to statutory rape.[2]

Polanski was born in Paris, and his Polish-Jewish parents moved the family back to Poland in 1936. Three years later, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany starting World War II and the Polanskis found themselves trapped in the Kraków Ghetto. After his mother and father were taken in raids, Polanski spent his formative years in foster homes under an adopted identity, trying to survive the Holocaust.[4]Polanski's first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), was made in Poland and was nominated for a United States Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[5] He has since received five more Oscar nominations, along with two BAFTAs, four Césars, a Golden Globe Award and the Palme d'Or of the Cannes Film Festival in France. In the United Kingdom he directed three films, beginning with Repulsion (1965). In 1968, he moved to the United States and cemented his status by directing the horror film Rosemary's Baby (1968).

A turning point in his life took place in 1969, when his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, and four friends were brutally murdered by members of the Manson Family.[6] Following her death, Polanski returned to Europe and eventually continued directing. He made Macbeth (1971) in England and back in Hollywood, Chinatown (1974), which was nominated for eleven Academy Awards.[7]

In 1977, Polanski was arrested and charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. He subsequently pled guilty to the lesser offence of unlawful sex with a minor.[8] After spending 42 days undergoing psychiatric evaluation in prison in preparation for sentencing, Polanski, who had expected to be put on probation, fled to Paris after learning that the judge planned to imprison him.[9]

In Europe, Polanski continued to make films, including Tess (1979), starring Nastassja Kinski. It won France's César Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, and received three Oscars. He later produced and directed The Pianist (2002), a drama about a Jewish-Polish musician escaping Nazi persecution, starring Adrien Brody and Emilia Fox. The film won three Academy Awards including Best Director, along with numerous international awards. He also directed Oliver Twist (2005), a story which parallels his own life as a "young boy attempting to triumph over adversity".[10] He was awarded Best Director for The Ghost Writer (2010) at the 23rd European Film Awards.[11] He also received Best Screenwriter nomination at the aforementioned awards for Carnage (2011).

In 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to expel Polanski from its membership because of the statutory rape case.[12]

Early life

Polanski was born in Paris; he was the son of Bula (née Katz-Przedborska)[13] and Ryszard Polański,[14] a painter and manufacturer of sculptures, who had changed his family name from Liebling.[15] Polański's father was Jewish and originally from Poland; Polański's mother, born in Russia, had been raised Roman Catholic and was of half Jewish ancestry.[16][17][18] His mother had a daughter, Annette, by her previous husband. Annette managed to survive Auschwitz, where her mother died, and left Poland forever for France.[19] Polański's parents were both agnostics.[20] Polański stated "I'm an atheist" in an interview about his film, Rosemary's Baby.[21]

World War II

The Polański family moved back to the Polish city of Kraków in 1936,[14] and were living there when World War II began with the invasion of Poland. Kraków was soon occupied by the German forces, and the racist and anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws made the Polańskis targets of persecution, forcing them into the Kraków Ghetto, along with thousands of the city's Jews.[4] Around the age of six, he attended primary school for only a few weeks, until "all the Jewish children were abruptly expelled," writes biographer Christopher Sandford. That initiative was soon followed by the requirement that all Jewish children over the age of twelve wear white armbands with a blue Star of David imprinted for visual identification. After he was expelled, he would not be allowed to enter another classroom for the next six years.[14]:18[22] Polanski then witnessed both the ghettoization of Kraków's Jews into a compact area of the city, and the subsequent deportation of all the ghetto's Jews to German death camps. He watched as his father was taken away. He remembers from age six, one of his first experiences of the terrors to follow:

I had just been visiting my grandmother ... when I received a foretaste of things to come. At first I didn't know what was happening. I simply saw people scattering in all directions. Then I realized why the street had emptied so quickly. Some women were being herded along it by German soldiers. Instead of running away like the rest, I felt compelled to watch.

One older woman at the rear of the column couldn't keep up. A German officer kept prodding her back into line, but she fell down on all fours, ... Suddenly a pistol appeared in the officer's hand. There was a loud bang, and blood came welling out of her back. I ran straight into the nearest building, squeezed into a smelly recess beneath some wooden stairs, and didn't come out for hours. I developed a strange habit: clenching my fists so hard that my palms became permanently calloused. I also woke up one morning to find that I had wet my bed.[23]

His father was transferred, along with thousands of other Jews, to Mauthausen, a group of 49 German concentration camps in Austria. His mother was taken to Auschwitz, and was killed soon after arriving. The forced exodus took place immediately after the German liquidation of the Kraków ghetto, a true-life backdrop to Polanski's film The Pianist (2002). Polanski, who was then hiding from the Germans, remembered seeing his father being marched off with a long line of people. Polanski tried getting closer to his father to ask him what was happening, and managed to get within a few yards. His father saw him, but afraid his son might be spotted by the German soldiers, whispered (in Polish), "Get lost!"[14]:24

Polański escaped the Kraków Ghetto in 1943 and survived with the help of some Polish Roman Catholics, including a woman who had promised Polański's father that she would shelter Polanski.[14]:21 Polański attended church, learned to recite Catholic prayers by heart, and behaved outwardly as a Roman Catholic, although he was never baptized. His efforts to blend into a Catholic household failed miserably at least once, when the parish priest visiting the family posed questions to him one-on-one about the catechism, and ultimately said, "You aren't one of us", he said.[24] The punishment for helping a Jew in German-occupied Poland was death.[25]

As he roamed the countryside trying to survive in a Poland now occupied by German troops, he witnessed many horrors, such as being "forced to take part in a cruel and sadistic game in which German soldiers took shots at him for target practice."[10] Author Ian Freer concludes that Polanski's constant childhood fears and dread of violence have contributed to the "tangible atmospheres he conjures up on film."[10]

By the time the war ended in 1945, a fifth of the Polish population had been killed,[26] with the vast majority of the victims being civilians. Of those deaths, 3 million were Polish Jews, which accounted for 90% of the country's Jewish population.[27] According to Sandford, Polanski would use the memory of his mother, her dress and makeup style, as a physical model for Faye Dunaway's character in his film Chinatown (1974).[14]:13

After the war

After the war, he was reunited with his father and moved back to Kraków. His father remarried 21 December 1946 to Wanda Zajączkowska (a woman Polanski had never liked) and died of cancer in 1984. Time repaired the family contacts; Polanski visited them in Kraków, and relatives visited him in Hollywood and Paris. Polanski recalls the villages and families he lived with as relatively primitive by European standards:

They were really simple Catholic peasants. This Polish village was like the English village in Tess. Very primitive. No electricity. The kids with whom I lived didn't know about electricity ... they wouldn't believe me when I told them it was enough to turn on a switch![28]

He stated that "you must live in a Communist country to really understand how bad it can be. Then you will appreciate capitalism."[28] He also remembered events at the war's end and his reintroduction to mainstream society when he was 12, forming friendships with other children, such as Roma Ligocka, Ryszard Horowitz and his family.[29]

Introduction to movies

Polanski's fascination with cinema began very early, when he was around age four or five. He recalls this period in an interview:

Even as a child, I always loved cinema and was thrilled when my parents would take me before the war. Then we were put into the ghetto in Krakòw and there was no cinema, but the Germans often showed newsreels to the people outside the ghetto, on a screen in the market place. And there was one particular corner where you could see the screen through the barbed wire. I remember watching with fascination, although all they were showing was the German army and German tanks, with occasional anti-Jewish slogans inserted on cards.[30]

After the war, he watched films, either at school or at a local cinema, using whatever pocket money he had. Polanski writes, "Most of this went on the movies, but movie seats were dirt cheap, so a little went a long way. I lapped up every kind of film."[31] As time went on, movies became more than an escape into entertainment, as he explains:

Movies were becoming an absolute obsession with me. I was enthralled by everything connected with the cinema—not just the movies themselves but the aura that surrounded them. I loved the luminous rectangle of the screen, the sight of the beam slicing through the darkness from the projection booth, the miraculous synchronization of sound and vision, even the dusty smell of the tip-up seats. More than anything else though, I was fascinated by the actual mechanics of the process.[32]

He was above all influenced by Sir Carol Reed's Odd Man Out (1947) - "I still consider it as one of the best movies I've ever seen and a film which made me want to pursue this career more than anything else ... I always dreamt of doing things of this sort or that style. To a certain extent I must say that I somehow perpetuate the ideas of that movie in what I do."[33]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Roman Polanski
aragonés: Roman Polanski
asturianu: Roman Polanski
azərbaycanca: Roman Polanski
беларуская: Раман Паланскі
български: Роман Полански
Boarisch: Roman Polanski
bosanski: Roman Polanski
čeština: Roman Polański
Ελληνικά: Ρόμαν Πολάνσκι
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Roman Polański
español: Roman Polański
Esperanto: Roman Polański
føroyskt: Roman Polanski
français: Roman Polanski
hrvatski: Roman Polański
Bahasa Indonesia: Roman Polański
íslenska: Roman Polanski
italiano: Roman Polański
lietuvių: Roman Polański
Malagasy: Roman Polanski
მარგალური: რომან პოლანსკი
Bahasa Melayu: Roman Polanski
Nāhuatl: Roman Polanski
Nederlands: Roman Polański
português: Roman Polanski
română: Roman Polanski
Runa Simi: Roman Polański
sicilianu: Roman Polanski
Simple English: Roman Polanski
slovenčina: Roman Polański
српски / srpski: Роман Полански
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Roman Polanski
Türkçe: Roman Polanski
українська: Роман Полянський
Tiếng Việt: Roman Polanski
Volapük: Roman Polański