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Roman Polanski

Polanski with a Crystal Globe, 2005
Born Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański
18 August 1933 (1933-08-18) (age 76)
Paris, France
Occupation Actor, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 1953–present
Spouse(s) Barbara Lass (1959–1962)
Sharon Tate (1968–1969)
Emmanuelle Seigner

Roman Raymond Polanski (Polish: Roman Rajmund Polański; born 18 August 1933) is a French-born and resident Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Polanski began his career in Poland, and later became a critically acclaimed director of both art house and commercial films.[1] Polanski's first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), made in Poland, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He has since received five more Oscar nominations, and in 2002 received the Academy Award for Best Director for his film, The Pianist. He has also been the recipient of two Baftas, four Césars, a Golden Globe and the Palme d'Or. He left the People's Republic of Poland in 1961 to live in France for several years, then moved to Britain, where he collaborated with Gérard Brach on three films, beginning with Repulsion (1965). In 1968 he moved to the United States, immediately cementing his burgeoning directing status with the 1968 groundbreaking Academy Award winning horror film Rosemary's Baby.

In 1969, Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered while staying at the Polanski's Benedict Canyon home above Los Angeles by members of the Manson Family.[2] Following Tate's death, Polanski returned to Europe and spent much of his time in Paris and Gstaad, but didn't make another film until he filmed Macbeth (1971) in England. The following year he went to Italy to make What? (1973) and subsequently spent the next five years living near Rome. However, he traveled to Hollywood to direct Chinatown (1974) for Paramount Pictures, with Robert Evans serving as producer. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, and was a critical and box-office success; the script by Robert Towne won for Best Original Screenplay.[3] Polanski's next film, The Tenant (1976), was shot in France, and completed the "Apartment Trilogy", following Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby.[4]

In 1977, Polanski visited Los Angeles again to shoot photographs for Vogue magazine and was arrested for the sexual assault of a thirteen-year-old in Los Angeles, and later pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.[5] To avoid sentencing, Polanski returned to his home in London, but quickly moved on to France the following day, and has had a U.S. arrest warrant outstanding since then,[6] and an international arrest warrant since 2005.[7] Polanski avoided visits to countries that were likely to extradite him to the United States. In September 2009 Polanski was arrested by Swiss police, at the request of U.S. authorities, when he traveled to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.[7][8][9] The United States formally requested his extradition on October 23, 2009.[10]

Polanski continued to make films such as The Pianist (2002), a World War II-set adaptation of Jewish-Polish musician Władysław Szpilman's autobiography of the same name, which echoed some of Polanski's earlier life experiences. Like Szpilman, Polanski escaped the ghetto and the concentration camps while family members were killed. The film won three Academy Awards including Best Director, the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or, and seven French César Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Harrison Ford accepted the awards on his behalf.[11]



Polanski's star on the Łódź walk of fame

Polanski attended the National Film School in Łódź, the third-largest city in Poland.[12] In the 1950s Polanski took up acting, appearing in Andrzej Wajda's Pokolenie (A Generation) (1954) and in the same year in Silik Sternfeld's Zaczarowany rower (Enchanted Bicycle or Magical Bicycle). Polanski's directorial debut was also in 1955 with a short film Rower (Bicycle). Rower is a semi-autobiographical feature film, believed to be lost, which also starred Polanski. It refers to his real-life violent altercation with a notorious Kraków felon, Janusz Dziuba, who arranged to sell Polanski a bike, but instead beat him badly and stole his money. In real life the offender was arrested while fleeing after fracturing Polanski's skull, and executed for three murders, out of eight prior such assaults, which he had committed.[13] Several other short films made during his study at Łódź gained him considerable recognition, particularly Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958) and When Angels Fall (1959). He graduated in 1959.[12]

Polanski's first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), was also the first significant Polish film after WWII that did not have a war theme. Scripted by Jerzy Skolimowski, Jakub Goldberg and Polanski, Knife in the Water is about a wealthy, unhappily married couple who decide to take a mysterious hitchhiker with them on a weekend boating excursion. A dark and unsettling work, Polanski's debut feature subtly evinces a profound pessimism about human relationships with regard to the psychological dynamics and moral consequences of status envy and sexual jealousy. Although not well-received by the People's Republic of Poland communist regime[citation needed], Knife in the Water was nevertheless a major commercial success in the West and gave Polanski an international reputation. The film also earned its director his first Academy Award nomination (Best Foreign Language Film, 1963).

Despite his reputation as a major Polish filmmaker, Polanski left then-communist Poland and moved to France, where he had already made two notable short films in 1961: The Fat and the Lean and Mammals. While in France, Polanski contributed one segment ("La rivière de diamants") to the French-produced omnibus film, Les plus belles escroqueries du monde (English title: The Beautiful Swindlers) in 1964. However, Polanski found that in the early 1960s the French film industry was generally unwilling to support a rising filmmaker whom they viewed as a cultural Pole and not a Frenchman. So he soon left France to find new opportunities and financial backing in England.[citation needed]

Gérard Brach collaborations

Polanski made three feature films in England, based on original scripts written by himself and Gérard Brach, a frequent collaborator. Repulsion (1965) is a psychological horror film focusing on a young Belgian woman named Carol (Catherine Deneuve), who is living in London with her older sister (Yvonne Furneaux). While working as a beautician's assistant at a salon, Carol is often disturbed by the physical decrepitude of her elderly clients, and throughout the course of the film, she becomes increasingly distressed by sexual advances from the men around her. Her sister departs for a holiday in Italy with a boyfriend, and Carol is left alone in their shared apartment flat. Carol's disordered mind finally breaks from reality as actual threats of domestic and sexual invasion blend into grotesque paranoid hallucinations, causing her to respond with desperate, deadly acts of violence. The film's themes, situations, visual motifs, and effects clearly reflect the influence of early surrealist cinema as well as horror movies of the 1950s – particularly Luis Buñuel's Un chien Andalou, Jean Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet, Henri-Georges Clouzot's Diabolique and Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

Cul-de-Sac (1966) is a bleak nihilist tragicomedy filmed on location in Northumberland. The general tone and the basic premise of the film owes a great deal to Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, along with aspects of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party. Indeed, the original title for the film was When Katelbach Comes (named after the actor André Katelbach, who played the role of the master in Polanski's very Beckettian 1961 short film The Fat and the Lean), and among the cast was Jack MacGowran, a veteran of Beckett's stage and television work. The film's setup concerns two gangsters, Dickie and Albie (Lionel Stander and MacGowran), who are on the run after a heist went wrong. The film opens with Dickie pushing their broken-down car along the tidal causeway of Lindisfarne island. It is implied that the shootout which occurred during the heist had left Albie bleeding and paralyzed, and Dickie, who is also wounded but still mobile, now seeks to contact their underworld boss, Katelbach. (Like Beckett's Godot, Katelbach is frequently alluded to throughout the course of the film, but never actually appears.) As he searches the island, Dickie discovers that the famous medieval castle is inhabited by an effeminate and neurotically excitable middle-aged Englishman named George (Donald Pleasence), and his adulterous, nymphomaniacal young French wife, Teresa (Françoise Dorléac, Catherine Deneuve's older sister). A series of absurd mishaps, both farcical and tragic, ensues when Dickie decides to take the couple hostage in their castle as he waits (in vain) for further instructions from the mysterious Katelbach.

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) is a parody of vampire films (particularly those made by Hammer Studios) which was filmed using elaborate sets built on sound stages in London with additional location photography in the Alps (particularly Urtijëi, an Italian ski resort in the Dolomites). The plot concerns a buffoonish professor named Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) and his clumsy assistant, Alfred (played by Polanski himself), who are traveling through Transylvania in search of vampires. The two of them arrive in a small village near a vampire-infested castle, which they plan to examine. While taking lodgings at the village tavern, Alfred falls in love with Sarah, the local innkeeper's daughter (played by Polanski's future wife, Sharon Tate). Shortly after, Sarah is abducted by the vampires and taken to the castle. The rest of the film concerns Abronsius and Alfred's madcap efforts to penetrate the castle walls and rescue the girl. The ironic and macabre ending is classic Polanski. The Fearless Vampire Killers was Polanski's first feature to be photographed in color with the use of Panavision lenses (the aspect ratio is 2.35:1). The film's striking visual style, with its snow-covered, fairy-tale landscapes, recalls the work of Soviet fantasy filmmakers Aleksandr Ptushko and Alexander Row. Similarly, the richly textured, moonlit-winter-blue color schemes of the village and the snowy valleys evoke the magical, kaleidoscopic paintings of the great Russian-Jewish artist Marc Chagall, who provides the namesake for the innkeeper in the film. The film is also notable in that it features Polanski's love of winter sports, particularly skiing. In this respect The Fearless Vampire Killers recalls Polanski's 1961 short film Mammals.

Polanski and Tate began a relationship during filming, and were married in London on January 20, 1968.[14]

Move to United States

In Rosemary's Baby: A Retrospective, a featurette on the DVD release of the film, Polanski, Paramount Pictures executive Robert Evans, and production designer Richard Sylbert reminisce at length about the production. Evans recalled William Castle brought him the galley proofs of the novel Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin and asked him to purchase the film rights even before Random House released the publication. The studio head recognized the commercial potential of the project and agreed with the stipulation that Castle, who had a reputation for low-budget horror films, could produce but not direct the film adaptation. Evans admired Polanski's European films and hoped he could convince him to make his American debut with Rosemary's Baby (1968). He knew Polanski was a ski buff who was anxious to make a film with the sport as its basis, so he sent him the script for Downhill Racer with the galleys for Rosemary. Polanski read the book non-stop through the night and called Evans the following morning to tell him he thought it was the more interesting project, and would like the opportunity to write as well as direct it. His first Hollywood film established his reputation as a major commercial filmmaker and both the novel and movie became commercial successes. A horror-thriller set in the trendy Manhattan apartment building "The Dakota", the story is about Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow), an innocent young housewife, originally from Omaha, who is impregnated by the devil after her narcissistic and ambitious actor husband, Guy (John Cassavetes), offers her womb to a coven of local satanists in exchange for stardom. Much of the film concerns Rosemary's suspicions and her increasingly successful attempts to uncover the truth of what is going on. Polanski's screenplay adaptation earned him a second Academy Award nomination. In April 1969, Polanski's friend and collaborator, the composer Krzysztof Komeda, died from head injuries sustained from a skiing accident, though other accounts of the cause of his death exist. After the short Two Men and a Wardrobe, Komeda went on to compose the score to all of Polanski's feature films (with the exception of Repulsion). Komeda is probably best known in the US for his final creative effort with Polanski — the haunting soundtrack to Rosemary's Baby.[citation needed]

After making his next two films in Europe, Polanski returned to Hollywood in 1973 to direct Chinatown for Paramount Pictures with Robert Evans serving as producer. The film was nominated for a total of 11 Academy Awards; stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway both received Oscar nominations for their roles, and the script by Robert Towne won for Best Original Screenplay.[3] Cast a private detective J.J. "Jake" Gittes, Nicholson is hired to investigate a case of suspected adultery, but instead winds up uncovering a nefarious cabal of corrupt Los Angeles public officials and crooked businessmen who are secretly defrauding city hall and local taxpayers by undermining the publicly owned water supply as a means to facilitate a vast land grab in the San Fernando Valley. As Nicholson's character discovers, the ringleader of the conspiracy is responsible for an incestuous rape as well as the libel and murder of the city's water commissioner. Polanski appears in a cameo role as a hoodlum who slices Nicholson's nose with a knife in a failed attempt to scare him off the case. A critical and box-office success from the time of its premiere in the summer of 1974, Chinatown has been considered by some to be Polanski's greatest achievement as a filmmaker.[citation needed]

Return to Europe

On August 9, 1969, while Polanski was working in London, Sharon Tate and four other people were murdered at the Polanskis' residence in Los Angeles.[15] Polanski abandoned his project and did not resume working until the production of Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971). Jon Finch and Francesca Annis appeared in the lead roles. He adapted Shakespeare's original text into a screenplay with the British theater critic Kenneth Tynan, and gained financing for the project through his friendship with Victor Lownes, who was an executive for Playboy magazine in London at the time. Polanski wanted to make the film in the play's actual historical setting of Scotland, but while scouting for locations there he could find no suitable sites that were still unmarked by telephone poles and other such modern installations. He eventually chose to shoot in an area of Britain which would provide him with a much more convincing medieval landscape complete with picturesque Norman castles: the rugged environs of Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd, North Wales. The production took six months to complete and exceeded its initial budget by at least $500,000  mostly because of weather problems (it rained frequently during the location filming in Wales) as well as Polanski's insistence on shooting multiple takes of several technically challenging scenes in these adverse conditions. When the film finally premiered in December 1971, a number of critics were disturbed by its rampant violence as well as the overwhelming nightmarish atmosphere and unredeemed nihilism of Polanski's very modernist interpretation of Shakespeare (influenced by the writings of Polish drama critic and theoretician, Jan Kott). The violent and bloody nature of the film drew comment; film critic Pauline Kael wrote that the "corpses and dominate the material that it's difficult to pay attention to the poetry."[16] Polanski was reported to have responded to a comment during filming that the blood-letting was unrealistic, with "You didn't see my house in California last summer. I know about bleeding."[17] In his autobiography Polanski wrote that he wanted to be true to the violent nature of the work, and that he had been aware that his first project following Tate's murder, would be subject to scrutiny and probable cricitism regardless of the subject matter; if he had made a comedy he would have been perceived as callous.[18]

Written by Polanski and previous collaborator Gérard Brach, What? (1973) is a mordant absurdist comedy made in the spirit of Roger Vadim and Terry Southern and loosely based on the themes of Alice in Wonderland and Henry James. The film is a rambling shaggy dog story about the sexual indignities that befall Nancy (Sydne Rome), a winsome young American hippie hitchhiking through Europe. After escaping a farcical rape attempt in the back of a truck, she soon finds herself stranded in the hothouse atmosphere of a remote Italian villa inhabited by a band of decadent, lecherous grotesques — the main trio are played by Marcello Mastrioanni, Hugh Griffith and Polanski himself. What? is also significant in that it is Polanski's only film to date in which a character breaks the fourth wall. The film was a failure with audiences and critics, although in the years since its release What? has attracted a minor cult following and a modicum of critical notice.

After filming Chinatown (1974) in Los Angeles, Polanski returned to Paris for his next film, The Tenant (1976), which was based on a 1964 novel by Roland Topor, a French writer of Polish-Jewish origin. In addition to directing the film, Polanski also played the lead role of Trelkovsky, a timid Polish immigrant living in Paris who seems to be possessed by the personality of a young woman who committed suicide by jumping out of the window from her apartment — the very apartment that Trelkovsky now occupies. Many have noted the similarities with Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby, and together with these two earlier works, The Tenant can be seen as the third installment in a loose trilogy of films called the "Apartment Trilogy" that explore the themes of social alienation and psychic and emotional breakdown.[4] For The Tenant, Ingmar Bergman's regular cinematographer, Sven Nykvist, served as cameraman, and actors such as Isabelle Adjani, Shelley Winters, Melvyn Douglas and Jo Van Fleet appeared in supporting roles. French composer Philippe Sarde scored The Tenant and two future Polanski films, Tess and Pirates. In his autobiography, Polanski wrote: "I had a great admiration for American institutions and regarded the United States as the only truly democratic country in the world."[19]

Polanski with wife Emmanuelle Seigner at the Cannes Film Festival

Unwilling to work in the United States after 1978 for fear of jail, Polanski continued to work in Europe. He dedicated his next film, Tess (1979), to the memory of his late wife, Sharon Tate. According to the director, after spending time with him in London in the summer of 1969, Tate left a copy of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles on Polanski's nightstand, along with a note suggesting that it would make a good film. Tess was Polanski's first film since his 1977 arrest in Los Angeles, and because of the American-British extradition treaty, Tess was shot in the north of France instead of Hardy's Dorset and Wiltshire; a replica of Stonehenge was constructed at Morienval for the final scene. Nastassja Kinski (with whom Polanski had been romantically involved) appeared in the title role opposite Peter Firth and Leigh Lawson. The film became the most expensive made in France up to that time, causing producer Claude Berri considerable anxiety when there was difficulty finding a North American distributor for the picture, which was nearly three hours long. Matters were also complicated when cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth died in the middle of production and had to be replaced by Ghislain Cloquet. Tess was eventually released in North America by Columbia Pictures, which had also distributed Polanski's earlier Macbeth. Ultimately, Tess proved a financial success and was well-received by both critics and the public. For Tess, Polanski won French César Awards for Best Picture and Best Director and received his fourth Academy Award nomination (and his second nomination for Best Director). The film received three Oscars: best cinematography, best art direction and best costume design. In addition, Tess was nominated for best picture (Polanski's second film to be nominated) and best original score.

Nearly seven years passed before Polanski completed his next film, Pirates (1986), a lavish period piece starring Walter Matthau, which the director intended as an homage to the beloved Errol Flynn swashbucklers of his childhood. Pirates was followed by Frantic (1988), starring Harrison Ford and the actress/model Emmanuelle Seigner. She would go on to star in two more of his films, Bitter Moon (1992) and The Ninth Gate (1999).

Later work and honours

In 1997, Polanski directed a stage version of his 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers, a musical, which debuted on October 4, 1997 in Vienna as Tanz der Vampire (Dance of the Vampires), the German title of the film version. After closing in Vienna, the show had successful runs in Stuttgart, Hamburg, Berlin, and Budapest. On 11 March 1998, Polanski was elected a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.[20]

Polanski at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival

In 2002, Polanski's production company, R.P. Productions, released The Pianist, an adaptation of the World War II autobiography of the same name by Polish-Jewish musician Władysław Szpilman. Szpilman's experiences as a persecuted Jew in Poland during WWII were reminiscent of Polanski and his family. While the fates of Szpilman and Polanski were to escape incarceration in any of the concentration camps, their family members did not, eventually perishing while captive during the course of the war. In May 2002, the film won the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes Film Festival,[21] as well as Césars for Best Film and Best Director, and later the 2002 Academy Award for Directing. Because he would have been arrested once in the United States, Polanski did not attend the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood. After the announcement of the Best Director Award, Polanski received a standing ovation from most of those present in the theater. He later received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2004.

Late in 2004, Polanski directed a new film adaptation of the Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist, based on Ronald Harwood's screenplay. The shooting location was located at the Barrandov Studios in Prague, Czech Republic and starred Barney Clark (as Oliver Twist), Harry Eden (as the Artful Dodger), Ben Kingsley (as Fagin) and Edward Hardwicke (as Mr. Brownlow). Polanski gathered a few previous collaborators from The Pianist - Ronald Harwood for the screenplay, Allan Starski as production designer and Pawel Edelman as director of photography. An attempt to adapt Robert Harris' Pompeii was abandoned in 2009.[22]

In September 2009 Polanski was awarded a lifetime achievement "Golden Icon Award" by the Zurich Film Festival,[23] which he was travelling to receive when he was arrested on 26 September.[9]

Prior to his September 2009 arrest in Switzerland, Polanski was in production directing an adaptation of Harris' The Ghost, a novel about a writer who stumbles upon a secret while ghosting the autobiography of a former British prime minister. The cast includes Ewan McGregor as the writer and Pierce Brosnan as prime minister Adam Lang. The Ghost Writer was co-produced as of February 2009 by Polanski's R.P Productions and Babelsberg Studios. The film was shot on locations in Germany.[24] When his film premiered at the 60th Berlinale in February 2010, Polanski won a Silver Bear for The Ghostwriter as Best Director. Being unable to personally receive the prize, Polanski nevertheless mused, "Even if I could, I wouldn't, because the last time I went to a festival to get a prize I ended up in jail."[25]

Personal life

Early life

Polanski was born as Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański in Paris, France, the son of Bula[26] (née Katz-Przedborska) and Ryszard Polański[26] (né Liebling), a painter and plastics manufacturer.[27] 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.[28] His father was nominally Jewish and his Russian-born mother had been raised in the faith of her own Polish Roman Catholic mother. His mother's father was Jewish, but not observant.[29][30] Ryszard Liebling had changed his surname to Polański in early 1932. The Polański family moved back to the Polish city of Kraków in 1936,[26] and were living there when the World War II began with the invasion of Poland. Neither of Roman Polanski's parents was religious. Kraków was soon occupied by the German forces. Nazi racial and religious purity laws made the Polańskis targets of persecution and forced them into the Kraków Ghetto, along with thousands of the city's Jews.[31]

His father survived the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria, but his mother perished at Auschwitz. Polański himself escaped the Kraków Ghetto in 1943 and survived the war using the name Romek Wilk with the help of some Polish Roman Catholic families.[26] As a Jewish child in hiding, he behaved outwardly as a Roman Catholic, although he was never baptized as such.[32] After the war he was reunited with his father[26] and moved back to Kraków, now part of Poland. Roman Polanski's father married Wanda Zajączkowska, but Roman disliked his stepmother, which further estranged father and son, who had never been able to establish an intimate relationship. Ryszard Polański died of cancer in 1984.[33]


Polanski's first wife, Barbara Lass (née Kwiatkowska),[26] was a Polish actress who also starred in Polanski's 1959 When Angels Fall.[34] The couple were married in 1959 and divorced in 1961. [26]

Martin Ransohoff introduced Polanski and rising actress Sharon Tate shortly before filming The Fearless Vampire Killers, and during the production the two of them began dating.[35] On 20 January 1968, Polanski married Sharon Tate in London.[36][37] In his autobiography, Polanski described his brief time with Tate as the best years of his life. This marriage ended with the death of Tate in the Manson murders, leaving Polanski devastated.

In 1976, Polanski started a romantic relationship with Nastassja Kinski, when she was 15 years old and he was 43 years old. In 1979, their relationship ended at the completion of filming Polanski's Oscar-nominated Tess, in which Kinski had played the lead role.[38][39][40] [41] [42][43]

In 1989 Polanski and Emmanuelle Seigner married. They have two children, daughter Morgane and son Elvis.[44]

Sharon Tate, Polanski's second wife, in Eye of the Devil (1967)

Sharon Tate's murder

In 1969, Polanski and Tate were in London, as Polanski prepared for the film The Day of the Dolphin. Tate was pregnant and returned to Los Angeles in July, before her advanced pregnancy made travel impossible; Polanski remained in London and planned to join Tate before she was due to give birth in late August. Polanski asked his friend Wojciech Frykowski, and Frykowski's girlfriend, Abigail Folger to stay with Tate until his arrival.[45]

On the night of August 9, 1969, Tate, Frykowski, Folger and two others were murdered at the Polanski residence. Polanski immediately returned to Los Angeles and was questioned by police who were satisfied that he was not involved in the murders.[46] As the murders were particularly savage, and involved Hollywood celebrities, the case was widely reported throughout the United States and Europe.[47] With little progress in the investigation, some sections of the media speculated that the murders had been a result of the victims' lifestyles,[48] prompting Polanski to confront a group of journalists at a press conference and defend Tate and the other victims against "a multitude of slanders".[49]

In December 1969, Charles Manson and several members of his "family" were arrested and subsequently charged with several murders, including that of Tate. Polanski returned to Europe. He later said that there was nothing to keep him in Hollywood and that to recover, he needed to find seclusion.[50] Polanski has said that his absence on the night of the murders is the greatest regret of his life.[51] In his autobiography, he wrote, "Sharon's death is the only watershed in my life that really matters", and commented that her murder changed his personality from a "boundless, untroubled sea of expectations and optimism" to one of "ingrained pessimism ... eternal dissatisfaction with life".[52]

Sexual assault case

On March 11, 1977, Polanski was arrested for the sexual assault of a thirteen-year-old, Samantha Geimer, that occurred the day before at the Hollywood home of actor Jack Nicholson.[44][53] The girl testified that Polanski gave her both champagne and Quaalude, a sedative drug, and despite repeated protests and being asked to stop, he performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy upon her.[54][55][56][57] A grand jury charged him with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under fourteen, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor.[58] At his arraignment Polanski pleaded not guilty to all charges.[59]

In an effort to preserve her anonymity, Geimer's attorney arranged a plea bargain which Polanski accepted, and, under the terms, five of the initial charges were to be dismissed.[60] He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful intercourse with a minor, a charge which is synonymous under Californian law with statutory rape.[60][61] The judge received a probation report and psychiatric evaluation, both indicating that Polanski should not serve jail time,[62] in response the film maker was ordered to a 90 day psychiatric evaluation at the Chino state prison.[63] On January 28, 1978 Polanski was released after 42 days.[64] Despite expectations and recommendations that he would receive only probation at sentencing, the judge "suggested to Polanski's attorneys" that more jail time and possible deportation were in order.[61][65] Upon learning of the judge's plans Polanski fled to France on February 1, 1978, hours before he was to be formally sentenced.[58] As a French citizen, he has been protected from extradition and has mostly lived in France, avoiding countries likely to extradite him.[66] Because he fled prior to sentencing, all six of the original charges remain pending.[67]

Geimer sued Polanski in 1988, alleging sexual assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and seduction. In 1993 Polanski agreed to pay her at least $500,000 as part of a civil settlement. Geimer and her lawyers confirmed the settlement was complete.[68][69]

In 1997, Geimer publicly forgave Polanski and filed a formal request with the Los Angeles Police Department to drop charges against him. In 2003 she wrote an Op Ed piece in the Los Angeles Times advocating for him to be allowed to return to the US to accept an Academy Award.[70]

On September 26, 2009, Polanski was taken into custody at the Zurich airport by Swiss police at the request of U.S. authorities, for a 2005 international arrest warrant, as he traveled to accept a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.[71][72] After initially being jailed, on December 4 Polanski was granted house arrest at his Gstaad residence on $US 4.5 M bail, while awaiting decision of appeals fighting extradition.[73][74]

On January 22, 2010, California Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that Polanski must return to be sentenced.[75]

Vanity Fair libel case

In 2004, Polanski sued Vanity Fair magazine in London for libel. A 2002 article in the magazine written by A. E. Hotchner recounted a claim by Lewis H. Lapham, editor of Harper's, that Polanski had made sexual advances towards a young model as he was traveling to Sharon Tate's funeral, claiming that he could make her "the next Sharon Tate". The court permitted Polanski to testify via a video link, after he expressed fears that he might be extradited if he entered the United Kingdom.[76][77] The trial started in July 2005 and Polanski made English legal history as the first claimant to give evidence by video link. During the trial, which included the testimony of Mia Farrow and others, it was claimed that the alleged scene at the famous New York City restaurant Elaine's could not have taken place on the date given, because Polanski only dined at this restaurant three weeks later.[78] Also, the Norwegian model disputed accounts that he had claimed he could make her "the next Sharon Tate," saying Polanski had never spoken to her at all.[79] In the course of the trial, Polanski stated that he had been unfaithful to Tate during their marriage.[80] Polanski was awarded £50,000 damages by the High Court in London. Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, responded, "I find it amazing that a man who lives in France can sue a magazine that is published in America in a British courtroom".[81]



Year Film Oscar
Oscar wins
1955 Zaczarowany rower (aka Bicycle)
1957 Morderstwo (aka A Murderer)
Uśmiech zębiczny (aka A Toothful Smile)
Rozbijemy zabawę (aka Break Up the Dance)
1958 Dwaj ludzie z szafą (aka Two Men and a Wardrobe)
1959 Lampa (aka The Lamp)
Gdy spadają anioły (aka When Angels Fall)
1961 Le Gros et le maigre (aka The Fat and the Lean)
Ssaki (aka Mammals)
1962 Nóż w wodzie (aka Knife in the Water) 1
1964 Les plus belles escroqueries du monde (aka The Beautiful Swindlers) — segment: "La rivière de diamants"
1965 Repulsion*
1966 Cul-de-Sac
1967 The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, Madam, but Your Teeth Are in My Neck (aka Dance of the Vampires)
1968 Rosemary's Baby* 2 1
1971 The Tragedy of Macbeth
1973 What? (aka Diary of Forbidden Dreams)
1974 Chinatown 11 1
1976 Le Locataire (aka The Tenant)*
1979 Tess 6 3
1986 Pirates 1
1988 Frantic
1992 Bitter Moon
1994 Death and the Maiden
1999 The Ninth Gate
2002 The Pianist 7 3
2005 Oliver Twist
2007 To Each His Own Cinema (segment Cinéma erotique)
2010 The Ghost Writer

*These movies are part of his 'Apartment Trilogy'.[4]


This list contains both cameos and more major roles.
  • Trzy opowieści (aka Three Stories) as Genek 'The Little' (segment "Jacek") (1953)
  • Zaczarowany rower (aka Magical Bicycle) as Adas (1955)
  • Rower (aka Bicycle) as the Boy who wants to buy a bicycle (1955)
  • Pokolenie (aka A Generation) as Mundek (1955)
  • Nikodem Dyzma as the Boy at Hotel (1956)
  • Wraki (aka The Wrecks) (1957)
  • Koniec nocy (aka End of the Night) as the Little One (1957)
  • Dwaj ludzie z szafą (aka Two Men and a Wardrobe) as the Bad boy (1958)
  • Zadzwońcie do mojej żony ? (aka Call My Wife) as a Dancer (1958)
  • Gdy spadają anioły (aka When Angels Fall Down) as an Old woman (1959)
  • Lotna as a Musician (1959)
  • Zezowate szczęście (aka Bad Luck) as Jola's Tutor (1960)
  • Do widzenia, do jutra (aka Good Bye, Till Tomorrow) as Romek (1960)
  • Niewinni czarodzieje (aka Innocent Sorcerers) as Dudzio (1960)
  • Ostrożnie, Yeti! (aka Beware of Yeti!) (1961)
  • Gros et le maigre, Le (aka The Fat and the Lean) as The Lean (1961)
  • Samson (1961)
  • Nóż w wodzie (aka Knife in the Water) voice of Young Boy (1962)
  • Repulsion as Spoon Player (1965)
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers as Alfred, Abronsius' Assistant (1967)
  • The Magic Christian as Solitary drinker (1969)
  • What? as Mosquito (1972)
  • Chinatown as Man with Knife (1974)
  • Blood for Dracula (Andy Warhol) as Man in Tavern (1976)
  • Locataire, Le (aka The Tenant) as Trelkovsky (1976)
  • Chassé-croisé (1982)
  • En attendant Godot (TV) as Lucky (1989)
  • Back in the USSR as Kurilov (1992)
  • Pura formalità , Una (aka A Pure Formality) as Inspector (1994)
  • Grosse fatigue (aka Dead Tired) as Roman Polanski (1994)
  • Hommage à Alfred (aka Tribute to Alfred Lepetit) (2000)
  • Zemsta (aka The Revenge) as Papkin (2002)
  • Rush Hour 3 as Detective Revi (2007)
  • Caos Calmo as Steiner (2007)


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Result
1963 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Foreign Language Film (Knife in the Water) Nominated
1965 Berlin Film Festival Silver Berlin Bear-Extraordinary Jury Prize (Repulsion) Won[82]
1966 Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear (Cul-de-Sac) Won[83]
1968 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best screenplay adaptation (Rosemary's Baby) Nominated
1974 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy Award for Best Director (Chinatown) Nominated[84]
1974 Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Director - Motion Picture (Chinatown) Won
1974 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Direction (Chinatown) Won
1979 César Awards César Award for Best Picture (Tess) Won
1979 César Awards César Award for Best Director (Tess) Won
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy Award for Directing (Tess) Nominated[84]
1979 Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film (Tess) Won
1979 Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Director — Motion Picture (Tess) Nominated
2002 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) Best film (The Pianist) Won[21]
2002 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy Award for Best Director (The Pianist) Won
2002 Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma César Award for Best Film (The Pianist) Won
2002 Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma Cesar Award for Best Director (The Pianist) Won
2004 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema Won
2009 Zurich Film Festival Golden Icon Award Lifetime achievement Won[7][8][9]
2010 Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear for Best Director (The Ghost Writer) Won[85]



  • Bugliosi, Vincent, with Gentry, Kurt, (1974) Helter Skelter, The Shocking Story of the Manson Murders, Arrow, London. ISBN 0099975009
  • Cronin, Paul (2005) Roman Polanski: Interviews, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. 200p
  • Farrow, Mia (1997). What Falls Away: A Memoir, New York: Bantam.
  • Feeney, F.X. (text); Duncan, Paul (visual design). (2006). Roman Polanski, Koln: Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-2542-5
  • Jacke, Andreas (2010): Roman Polanski — Traumatische Seelenlandschaften, Gießen: Psychosozial-Verlag. ISBN-13: 9783837920376, ISBN-10: 9783837920376
  • Kael, Pauline, 5001 Nights At The Movies, Zenith Books, 1982. ISBN 0-09-933550-6
  • King, Greg, Sharon Tate and The Manson Murders, Barricade Books, New York, 2000. ISBN 1-56980-157-6
  • Leaming, Barbara (1981). Polanski, The Filmmaker as Voyeur: A Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0671249851. 
  • Parker, John (1994). Polanski. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd. ISBN 0575056150. 
  • Polanski, Roman (1973) Roman Polanski's What? From the original screenplay, London: Lorrimer. 91p. ISBN 0856470333
  • Polanski, Roman (1973) What?, New York: Third press, 91p, ISBN 089388121X
  • Polanski, Roman (1975) Three film scripts: Knife in the water [original screenplay by Jerzy Skolimowski, Jakub Goldberg and Roman Polanski; translated by Boleslaw Sulik]; Repulsion [original screenplay by Roman Polanski and Gerard Brach]; Cul-de-sac [original screenplay by Roman Polanski and Gerard Brach], introduction by Boleslaw Sulik, New York: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 275p, ISBN 0064300625
  • Polanski, Roman (1984) Knife in the water, Repulsion and Cul-de-sac: three filmscripts by Roman Polanski, London: Lorrimer, 214p, ISBN 0856470511 (hbk) ISBN 0856470929 (pbk)
  • Polanski, Roman (1984, 1985) Roman by Polanski, New York: Morrow. ISBN 0688026214, London: Heinemann. London: Pan. 456p. ISBN 0434591807 (hbk) ISBN 0330285971 (pbk)
  • Polanski, Roman (2003) Le pianiste, Paris: Avant-Scene, 126p, ISBN 2847250166
  • Visser, John J. 2008 Satan-el: Fallen Mourning Star (Chapter 5). Covenant People's Books. ISBN 978-0-557-03412-3


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  66. ^ Dyer, Clare (29 September 2009). "How did the law catch up with Roman Polanski?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
  67. ^ Cieply, Jack (1 October 2009). "In Los Angeles, District Attorney Talks of Polanski Charges.". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
  68. ^ King, Larry (24 February 2003). "Interview With Samantha Geimer". CNN. Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
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External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Roman Polański article)

From Wikiquote


Roman Polański (born 18 August 1933) is a Polish/French film director and actor; he was the husband of Sharon Tate prior to her murder.


  • It's easy to direct while acting—there’s one less person to argue with.
    • New York Times (22 February 1976)
  • If you have a great passion it seems that the logical thing is to see the fruit of it, and the fruit are children.
    • The Independent (12 May 1991)
  • It's already getting more and more difficult to make an ambitious and original film. There are less and less independent producers or independent companies and an increasing number of corporations who are more interested in balance sheets than in artistic achievement. They want to make a killing each time they produce a film. They're only interested in the lowest common denominator because they're trying to reach the widest audience. And you got some kind of entropy. That's the danger; they look more alike, those films. The style is all melting and it all looks the same. Even young directors— for most of them, their only standard of achievement is how well their films do on the first weekend or whatever. It worries me. But then, from time to time, you have a film like The Usual Suspects or.... I'm trying to think of something American with some kind of originality... Pulp Fiction.
  • You know, whenever you do something new and original, people run to see it because it's different. Then, if it happens to be successful, the studios rush to imitate it. It becomes commonplace right away. But it's been like that before, I think. Now, the stakes are so gigantic that they cut each other's throats. So if most of the films are failures, then those that succeed so spectacularly, so commercially, become the norm. It's like a roulette for the studios. The problem with it is that it becomes more and more of a committee. Before, you dealt with the studio. It had one or two persons and now you have masses of executives who have to justify their existence and write so-called "creative notes" and have creative meetings. They obsess about the word creative probably because they aren't.
    • "Roman Polanski: An Exclusive Interview" by Taylor Montague
  • Berlin was great. It’s a new generation. If you continue to hate, you are entering into the same philosophy that began the war. You have to look forward at people and new times.
  • If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f—ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f— young girls. Juries want to f— young girls. Everyone wants to f— young girls!


  • Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater.
  • I can only say that whatever my life and work have been, I'm not envious of anyone— and this is my biggest satisfaction.
  • I don't really know what is shocking. When you tell the story of a man who is beheaded, you have to show how they cut off his head. If you don't, it's like telling a dirty joke and leaving out the punch line.
  • I never made a film which fully satisfied me.
  • I see Macbeth as a young, open-faced warrior, who is gradually sucked into a whirpool of events because of his ambition. When he meets the weird sisters and hears their prophecy, he's like the man who hopes to win a million-a gamble for high stakes.
  • I want people to go to the movies. I am the man of the spectacle. I'm playing.
  • In Paris, one is always reminded of being a foreigner. If you park your car wrong, it is not the fact that it's on the sidewalk that matters, but the fact that you speak with an accent.
  • My films are the expression of momentary desires. I follow my instincts, but in a disciplined way.
  • Nothing is too shocking for me.
  • People like Truffaut, Lelouch and Godard are like little kids playing at being revolutionaries. I've passed through this stage. I lived in a country where these things happened seriously.
  • Whenever I get happy, I always have a terrible feeling.
  • You have to show violence the way it is. If you don't show it realistically, then that's immoral and harmful. If you don't upset people, then that's obscenity.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Roman Polanski (born Rajmund Roman Thierry Polanski August 18, 1933 in Paris) is a movie director, producer, writer and actor. He is known for his art-house style movies like Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974).[1] In 2003, he won the Academy Award for Best Director for his film, The Pianist.

Personal life

Polanski was born in Paris, France and grew up in Poland. His father was Jewish and his mother was Roman Catholic. The family was persecuted by the Nazis and forced to live in a ghetto. Polanksi's mother died at Auschwitz. He later went to film school and graduated in 1959. Polanski won many awards for his short movies and went on to make full-length movies in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Polanski's first marriage was to actress Barbara Lass. While filming the movie Fearless Vampire Killers he met an actress named Sharon Tate. Polanski married her in 1968.

In 1969, Polanski was in London, and Tate was pregnant. Tate and some their friends were murdered. They were killed by people who followed Charles Manson.

Polanski's third and current wife is actress Emmanuelle Seigner, who is the mother of his daughter and son.


In 1977, Polanski got in trouble when he was caught having sex with a 13-year-old girl at his friend, Jack Nicholson's house.[1] Polanski went to France,[1] where he remained until he was arrested in Switzerland in September 2009. He was arrested at the request of the United States, so Switzerland could extradite him to the United States. Extradition is a legal process when one country transfers a person into the custody of another country. On July 12, 2010, the Swiss freed Polanski, and decided not to extradite him to Los Angeles. The Swiss Justice Ministry did not believe the legal strength of the United States extradition request. Polanski is still a fugitive (wanted by the police) in America.[2]


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