Published Jul 24, 2008Roman Polanski is easily one of the most intriguing cinematic figures of the past 50 years. He has directed modern classics (Rosemarys Baby, Chinatown), avant-garde horror films (Repulsion, The Tenant), comedies (Cul de Sac, The Fearless Vampire Killers) and even a pirate movie (Pirates, obviously).
Despite these artistic successes, Polanskis name will always conjure the stigma of his 1977 sex scandal, in which he was arrested and prosecuted for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. Even more notoriously, Polanski avoided incarceration by fleeing the United States for France in 1978 and hasnt been back since.
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired takes a procedural approach to exhuming the facts of the case, interviewing almost every important figure involved, with the exception of Polanski (who appears only in archival footage). While never condoning Polanskis actions, director Marina Zenovich does elicit a certain amount of sympathy for him when it becomes clear that the presiding judge in the Polanski case twisted the law to fit his own spotlight-hungry whims.
The documentary also provides an overview of Polanskis life, from escaping the holocaust to marrying Sharon Tate and eventually coping with her murder at the hands of the Manson family. Polanski is portrayed as somewhat of a tortured soul whose frivolities didnt justify his vilification at the hands of the media.
The controversy over Polanski recently resurfaced with his 2003 Oscar win for The Pianist. Many people refused to acknowledge his cinematic achievements, blasting the Academy for rewarding such a miscreant (Im paraphrasing here). If Zenovichs film reaches any sort of conclusion, its that Polanski shouldnt be condemned for fleeing the country, as his case reflected a substantial aberration in the justice system.
Zenovich doesnt, however, shy away from the facts of his criminality and his innate creepiness. While the majority of the film is executed in a very conventional manner a combination of interviews and archival footage it is constantly fascinating for fans of Polanskis films or anyone interested in the machinations of Hollywood. (Maximum)