Thursday, September 24, 2009

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)

Polanski Roman Polanski made innovative films in his native Poland. A child survivor of the Holocaust (both his parents were killed), he adjusted well to his transition to America. He married actress Sharon Tate. He continued in his successful career with films such as Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown. By all accounts, his marriage was loving. Tate was pregnant with their first child. When she was nearly nine months pregnant, Tate and four guests at their Hollywood home were viciously murdered by Manson followers. Then, came his notorious night with a 13-year-old child model in Los Angeles that led to Polanski's fleeing the United States, never to return. Wanted and Desired chronicles this chapter in Polanski's past.

It explores the legal proceedings and delves into the seemingly intentional, knowing missteps committed by Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, portrayed as a man who sought high-profile celebrity trials and who may have thought of himself as a director in the courtroom. The details provided are fascinating and more in-depth than I'd previously heard.

The documentary uses many clips with people who help create an image of the man behind the notoriety--interviews with Polanski, friends, a gossip columnist and Polanski's attorney as well as the prosecutor. Both lawyers exhibit honesty and integrity. Even the victim appears and speaks about the incident and how her life was altered because of it. After Polanski publicly apologized to her, she publicly forgave him.

Polanski committed a crime. However, the way it was handled by Rittenband was an abuse of the legal system. In the US, Polanski was condemned for this incident, while in France, he is still hailed and loved. Polanski is hard to dislike--he's made clever films and has survived a lot of trauma. However, his grand mistake and superior lack of judgement is hard to rectify. Whatever you opine, this documentary is thought provoking.

Director: Marina Zenovich

Country: US

Genre: Documentary

Run time: 100 minutes

Scale: 5

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