Creator / Roman Polanski

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"I am widely regarded, I know, as an evil, profligate dwarf."
— From his autobiography

Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański (born 18 August 1933) is a very famous yet polarizing writer, director, producer, and actor whose own life story is just as fascinating (and depressing) as his films. During his childhood in Poland, his parents were sent to concentration camps by the Nazis and he became a drifter, traveling the country and staying with various families while also supporting himself by acting in local stage shows. He gained acclaim for films like Knife in the Water and Repulsion, and began a successful Hollywood career. While going far outside his usual material directing and starring in the horror parody The Fearless Vampire Killers, he fell in love with his co-star Sharon Tate and they were married soon after. Just two years later, Tate was murdered by the Charles Manson family just weeks away from the birth of their first child, while Polanski was making a film in Europe. Never a very sunny filmmaker, his movies naturally became even grimmer after this, and he even managed to make a film of Macbeth even darker than Shakespeare's original.

Another turning point came in 1977. Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer (nee Gailey) in his friend Jack Nicholson's house. As part of a plea bargain, Polanski pled guilty and he submitted to a stay at Chino State Prison in Los Angeles where after a 42 day period, he was released. When Polanski got news that the Judge of the case intended to over-rule the plea bargain and extend his sentence, he fled to France where he has citizenship. He also sold off his house in England and never returned there. Unable to enter any countries with an extradition agreement with America, Polanski nonetheless continued making films, which with select exceptions (The Tenant, The Pianist, Tess) did not match the critical and financial success of his early career. Contrary to popular belief, Polanski only ever made two films in Hollywood (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown). He has made 12 films since his exile, and in 2002 Polanski won a Best Director Academy Award for The Pianist, which was received and delivered to him by Harrison Ford, star of his film Frantic. In 2005 the American arrest warrant on him became an international one, and in 2009 he was rearrested on it (while at a ceremony to accept another award) and had to finish post-production on The Ghost Writer from prison.

After spending several months under house arrest in Switzerland awaiting extradition to the USA, the Swiss government announced in July 2010 that they were turning down the extradition request after apparently coming across problems with the request and considering "national interests"; he is now free once again. In 2015, a second extradition request with the government of Poland was turned down as well, which was appealed until December 2016, when Poland's Supreme Court definitively upheld the Swiss government's verdict, turning down any further attempts to extradite him.

Filmography:

1957: Morderstwo (A Murderer)
1957: Uśmiech zębiczny (A Toothful Smile)
1957: Rozbijemy zabawę (Break Up The Dance)
1958: Dwaj ludzie z szafą (Two Men And A Wardrobe)
1959: Lampa (The Lamp)
1959: Gdy spadają anioły (When Angels Fall)
1961: Le Gros et le maigre (The Fat And The Lean)
1961: Ssaki (Mammals)
1962: Nóż w wodzie (Knife in the Water)
1964: Les plus belles escroqueries du monde (The Beautiful Swindlers)
1965: Repulsion (first English-language movie)
1966: Cul de Sac
1967: The Fearless Vampire Killers
1968: Rosemary's Baby
1971: Macbeth
1973: What? (also known as Diary Of Forbidden Dreams)
1974: Chinatown
1976: Le Locataire (The Tenant)
1979: Tess (adapted from Tess Of The Durbervilles)
1986: Pirates
1988: Frantic
1992: Bitter Moon
1994: Death and the Maiden
1999: The Ninth Gate
2002: The Pianist
2005: Oliver Twist
2007: To Each His Own Cinema
2010: The Ghost Writer
2012: Carnage
2013: Venus In Fur

Roman Polanski's films contain examples of:

  • Black Comedy: What?, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Carnage and even Rosemary's Baby are filled with jet black humor.
  • Downer Ending: This tendency became even more pronounced after Sharon Tate's murder, with Chinatown as one of the most famous examples.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The basic sense one gets from his movies.
  • Rape as Drama: This crops up in a number of films, Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, Tess, Death and the Maiden. Make of that what you will.
  • Signature Style: Strongly averted. While some of his movies do share similarities in terms of themes or shooting style (The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby being some of the prime examples), you'd probably be hard-pressed to find anything that the highly symbolic, slow-paced Knife in the Water, intense if accessible neo-noir Chinatown and the light-hearted adventure-filled Pirates would have that would point to Polanski being at the helm of all three.

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