Roman Polanski

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Posted by motoman 03/06/2009 @ 08:13

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Judge tosses out Roman Polanski's sex plea appeal after director ... - The Star-Ledger -
by Vicki Hyman/The Star-Ledger ROBERT PFEIL/AP PHOTORoman Polanski earlier this year. He refused to return to the US, where he is still wanted as a fugitive from justice, to appeal his 1970s sex plea. Roman Polanski won't get his day in court until he...
Polanski won't return to US for hearing - United Press International
Director Roman Polanski arrives on the red carpet before a tribute to Sigourney Weaver during the Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech on November 16, 2008. (UPI Photo/David Silpa) LOS ANGELES, May 4 (UPI) -- Roman Polanski's attorneys...
Roman Polanski's Foot Fetish - Film Stew
by Richard Horgan How long does it take to make a case that famed auteur Roman Polanski has a thing for women's – and men's - feet? A lot less, apparently, than it does to suggest that some questionable legal shenanigans helped seal the filmmaker's...
New Book Sizzles with Dirt-Dishing Accounts of Roman Polanski and ... - PR Web (press release)
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) May 7, 2009 -- When successful classical music composer and conductor, Phillip Lambro (the United States International Orchestra, Crystal S-861), was hired by film director Roman Polanski in 1974 to compose the film score to...
Polanski gives no hint of returning to US - Los Angeles Times
By Harriet Ryan In February, more than three decades after movie director Roman Polanski decided the judge in a child-sex case was giving him a raw deal and fled to France, another Los Angeles judge extended an olive branch: There's evidence you...
Polanski gives no signs of returning - United Press International
LOS ANGELES, May 1 (UPI) -- Movie director Roman Polanski shows no signs of taking advantage of an olive branch from a US judge urging him to return to the country, observers say. Los Angeles County Superior Judge Peter Espinoza said he is willing to...
Philip Cioffari - The Star-Ledger -
Before the director, Marc Stone, died, he and Cioffari had written a script for Roman Polanski, who directed "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown." The project never took off once Polanski was charged with having sex with a minor in 1997 and subsequently...
Ewan mcgregor: 'I would never bad-mouth religion' - Independent
He is just completing The Ghost, Roman Polanski's eagerly anticipated take on Robert Harris's best-selling novel, which will be released later this year. mcgregor plays a ghostwriter employed to finish the memoirs of a deposed British Prime Minister,...
ON FILM: Polanski's Knife is dazzlingly sharp - Arkansas Online (subscription)
I finally got around to Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water (1962), which had been sitting on our shelves for a couple of years, and I don't quite know how to reconcile what had been my expectations with the reality. I had expected to like it,...
People: Two people injured while filming new Nicolas Cage movie - San Jose Mercury News
NO AMERICAN ROMAN HOLIDAY: An attorney for Roman Polanski has told a Los Angeles judge that the fugitive film director won't appear at a hearing this week to seek dismissal of the 31-year-old sex case against him. A court document filed Monday argues...

Roman Polanski


Roman Raymond Polański (born August 18, 1933) is an Academy Award-winning and four-time nominated Polish-French film director, writer, actor and producer. Polanski began his career in Poland, and later became a celebrated director of both art house and commercial films, making such films as Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974). Polanski is one of the world's best known contemporary film directors. He is also known for his turbulent and controversial personal life.

Polanski survived the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Poland during WWII. In 1969, his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the infamous Manson Family. In 1977, he was arrested in Los Angeles and pleaded guilty to "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor", a 13-year-old girl. Released after a 42-day psychiatric evaluation, Polanski fled to France. He is considered by U.S. authorities to be a fugitive from justice and cannot return to the United States without risking arrest and imprisonment. Polanski has since avoided visits to countries that were likely to extradite him, such as the United Kingdom. As a French citizen, he is protected by France's limited extradition with the United States, and Poland is also unlikely to extradite him. He travels mostly between France, where he resides, and Poland.

Polanski has continued to direct films in Europe, including Frantic (1988), Death and the Maiden (1994), The Ninth Gate (1999), the Academy Award-winning (for best director) and Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or-winning The Pianist (2002), and Oliver Twist (2005). He has also done occasional work in theatre and in the films of other directors. Polański speaks 6 languages: his native Polish and French as well as English, Russian, Spanish, and Italian.

Polanski was born Rajmund Roman Liebling in Paris, France, the son of Bula (née Katz-Przedborska) and Ryszard Liebling (aka Ryszard Polański), who was a painter and plastics manufacturer. Polanski's parents were agnostics. His father was a Polish Jew and his mother, a native of Russia, was brought up as a Catholic as she had a Jewish father and a Roman Catholic mother.

The Polański family moved back to the Polish town of Krakow in 1937, and were living there in 1939, when World War II began. Poland was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. As a Jewish family, the Polańskis were targets of German Nazi persecution and forced into the Kraków Ghetto, along with thousands of other Polish Jews. His father survived the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria but his mother was eventually murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Polański himself managed to escape the Kraków Ghetto, and survived the war with the help of a Polish Roman Catholic farmer in poor and uncertain conditions, sleeping in a barn next to cows. After the war he was reunited with his father and moved back to Krakow.

During the Soviet imposed communism in Poland, he attended the Polish film school in Łódź, and graduated in 1959.

In the early 1950s, Polanski took up acting, appearing in Andrzej Wajda's film A Generation (1954) and in the same year in Silik Sternfeld's Zaczarowany rower (known as Enchanted Bicycle or Magical Bicycle). Polanski's directorial debut was also in 1955 with a short film Rower (known as Bicycle, not to be confused with Zaczarowany rower). Rower is a semi-autobiographical feature film, currently believed to be lost, which also starred Polanski. It references his violent altercation with a notorious Krakow felon who promised to sell the then cycling enthusiast a bicycle at a secluded location and instead beat him up severely and stole his money. 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); the latter starred Polanski's first wife, Barbara Lass.

Polanski's first feature-length film, Knife in the Water, was also the first significant Polish film after the war that did not have a war theme. Made from a script by Jerzy Skolimowski, Jakub Goldberg and Polanski himself, Knife in the Water is an intense, moody, claustrophobic three-hander 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 Polish communist cultural authorities on account of its lack of a socially redeeming message, 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). Being already a major Polish filmmaker, Polanski yet chose to leave the country and headed to France.

Polanski then made three feature films in England, based on original scripts written by himself and regular collaborator, Gérard Brach.

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, and 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.

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 gone bad. 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 eccentric, effeminate and neurotically excitable middle-aged Englishman named George (Donald Pleasence), and his adulterous, nymphomaniacal young French wife, Teresa (the late Françoise Dorléac, Catherine Deneuve's older sister). A series of grotesque 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.

A spoof 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 Ortisei, an Italian ski resort in the Dolomites).

The plot concerns a buffoonish professor named Abronsius (Jack MacGowran, the only actor to appear in two consecutive Polanski films until Emmanuelle Seigner two decades later) 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 and using a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film's striking visual style, with its snow-covered, fairy-tale landscapes, recalls the work of Russian 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, after whom the innkeeper in the film is named.

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 earlier short film, Mammals.

Polanski met rising actress Sharon Tate shortly before filming The Fearless Vampire Killers (she was known to producer Martin Ransohoff), and during the production the two of them began dating. On January 20, 1968, Polanski married Sharon Tate in London. In his autobiography, Polanski described his brief time with Tate as the best years of his life. During this time period, he also became friends with martial-arts master and actor Bruce Lee. Shortly after, in 1968, Polanski went to the United States, where he established his reputation as a major commercial filmmaker with the success of his first Hollywood film, Rosemary's Baby, based on the recent popular novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The film is a horror-thriller set in New York about Rosemary (Mia Farrow), an innocent young woman from Omaha, Nebraska, who is impregnated by the devil after her narcissistic actor husband, Guy (John Cassavetes), offers her womb to a coven of local witches in exchange for a successful career. Polanski's screenplay adaptation earned him a second Academy Award nomination.

In April 1969, Polanski's friend and collaborator, the composer Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969), 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, he scored all of Polanski's feature films (with the exception of Repulsion), and is probably best known in the U.S. for his final collaboration with the director: the haunting soundtrack to Rosemary's Baby.

On August 9 1969, Tate, who was eight months pregnant with the couple's first child (a boy), and four others (Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent) were brutally murdered by members of Charles Manson's "Family", who entered the Polanskis' rented home at 10050 Cielo Drive in the Hollywood Hills intending to "kill everyone there". Previous resident Terry Melcher had angered Charles Manson because he had declined to record some of his music. Melcher and his girlfriend at the time, actress Candice Bergen, had been living at the house but moved out in February 1969. The following month, Polanski and Tate moved in.

When Manson ordered members of his group to go to the property and kill everyone, they obeyed. After Parent, Sebring, Frykowski, and Folger had been murdered, Tate pleaded for the life of her unborn son. Susan Atkins replied that she felt no pity for her and began stabbing her. She soaked up some of Tate's blood with a towel and wrote "PIG" on the front door with it.

Polanski was at his house in London at the time of the murders and immediately traveled to Los Angeles, where he was questioned by police. As there were no suspects in the case, police checked on the past history of Polanski and Tate to try to determine a motive. After a period of months, Manson and his "family" were arrested on unrelated charges, which revealed evidence of what came to be known as the Tate-LaBianca murders. Polanski returned to Europe shortly after the killers were arrested. He later said that he gave away all his possessions as everything reminded him of Tate and was too painful for him, and that the greatest regret of his life was that he was not in Los Angeles with Tate on the night of her murder.

Polanski's first feature following Sharon Tate's murder was a bleak and violent film version of Shakespeare's Macbeth, which was mostly made on location in the rugged environs of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales; Jon Finch and Francesca Annis appeared in the lead roles. Polanski adapted the text into a screenplay with the British theater critic Kenneth Tynan, and gained financing for the film through his friendship with Victor Lownes, who was an executive for Playboy magazine in London at the time.

A number of critics were disturbed by the rampant violence in the film as well as the unsparing bleakness of Polanski's modernist interpretation of Shakespeare's tragedy (influenced by the writings of Polish drama critic and theoretician, Jan Kott). Film critic Pauline Kael commented that the slaughter of Lady Macduff and her household appeared to have been staged in an especially lurid manner that was clearly intended to evoke the Manson killings.

Written by Polanski and his old partner Gérard Brach, What? 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 three 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.

In 1973, Polanski returned to Hollywood to make Chinatown, with Paramount Pictures' Robert Evans as producer, from an original screenplay by Robert Towne.

Stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway both received Oscar nominations for their leading roles. The film was nominated for a total of 11 Academy Awards, and won for Best Original Screenplay. Polanski's cameo appearance comes midway through the film. Polanski and Dunaway has frequent heated personal disagreements on the set, and the director also clashed with Towne over Polanski's desire to alter the script's original ending (the matter was eventually settled by producer Evans, who sided with Polanski).

Chinatown is a grand cinematic parable in the pessimistic, revisionist New Hollywood neo-noir style, in which the rapid economic development and urban expansion of Los Angeles during the 1930s is attributed to a (fictionalized) instance of widespread civic corruption.

A private detective (Nicholson) hired to investigate a case of suspected adultery winds up discovering a nefarious cabal of corrupt public officials and crooked businessmen who are secretly undermining the publicly owned water supply. These conspirators are also depriving San Fernando Valley farmland of much-needed irrigation in order to render it practically worthless and thereby force the farmers there to sell out; vast areas of this blighted farmland are then quietly purchased by the conspirators under assumed names at very low prices.

Meanwhile, the conspirators promote construction of a taxpayer-funded dam and aqueduct under the fraudulent pretext that it will be used to enhance the urban water supply, when in fact it will serve only to irrigate the outlying valley and not the city itself — thus causing land prices in the San Fernando Valley (and consquently, the personal profits of the new owners) to skyrocket. The conspirators also plan to cover up this fraudulent misuse of public funds by formally extending the city limits to include the San Fernando Valley.

As the detective finds out, the ringleader of the conspiracy is responsible for the libel and murder of a key public official who was opposed to building the dam, along with the murder of an actress who takes part in the scheme to discredit that official at the beginning of the film, as well as an incestuous rape.

Today, Chinatown remains an unassailable classic of the neo-noir genre and a landmark of New Hollywood filmmaking; it also stands as Polanski's greatest commercial and critical success to date.

Polanski returned to Europe for his next film, The Tenant, 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 exploring the theme of urban alienation, social anomie, and the psychic and emotional breakdown of an individual personality. For The Tenant, Ingmar Bergman's regular cinematographer, Sven Nykvist, served as cameraman, and Isabelle Adjani and Shelley Winters both appeared in supporting roles.

In 1977, Polanski, then aged 44, became embroiled in a scandal involving 13-year-old Samantha Geimer (then known as Samantha Gailey). It ultimately led to Polanski's guilty plea to the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

In his autobiography, Roman by Polanski, Polanski alleged that Geimer's mother had set up her daughter as part of a casting couch and blackmail scheme against him.

Polanski was initially charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance (methaqualone) to a minor. These charges were dismissed under the terms of his plea bargain, and he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

Following the plea agreement, according to the aforementioned documentary, the court ordered Polanski to report to a state prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation, but granted a stay of ninety days to allow him to complete his current project. Under the terms set by the court, he was permitted to travel abroad. Polanski returned to California and reported to Chino State Prison for the evaluation period, and was released after 42 days.

On February 1, 1978, Polanski fled to London, where he maintained residency. A day later he traveled on to France, where he held citizenship, avoiding the risk of extradition to the U.S. by Britain. Consistent with its extradition treaty with the United States, France can refuse to extradite its own citizens. An extradition request later filed by U.S. officials was denied. The United States government can request that Polanski be prosecuted on the California charges by the French authorities.

Polanski has never returned to England, and later sold his home in absentia. The United States can still request the arrest and extradition of Polanski from other countries should he visit them, and Polanski has avoided visits to countries that are likely to extradite him (such as the UK) and mostly travels and works in France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland.

In a 2003 interview, Samantha Geimer said, "Straight up, what he did to me was wrong. But I wish he would return to America so the whole ordeal can be put to rest for both of us." Furthermore, "I'm sure if he could go back, he wouldn't do it again. He made a terrible mistake but he's paid for it".

In 2008, a documentary film of the aftermath of the incident, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Following review of the film, Polanski's attorney, Douglas Dalton, contacted the Los Angeles district attorney's office about prosecutor David Wells' role in coaching the judge, Laurence J. Rittenband. Based on statements by Wells included in the film, Polanski and Dalton are seeking review of whether the prosecutor acted illegally and engaged in malfeasance in interfering with the operation of the trial.

In December 2008, Polanski's lawyer in the United States filed a request to Judge David S. Wesley to have the case dismissed on the grounds of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. The filing says that Judge Rittenband (now deceased) violated the plea bargain by keeping in communication about the case with a deputy district attorney who was not involved. These activities were depicted in Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.

In January 2009, Polanski's lawyer filed a further request to have the case dismissed, and to have the case moved out of Los Angeles, as the Los Angeles courts require him to appear before the court for any sentencing or dismissal, and Polanski will not appear.

That same month, Samantha Geimer filed to have the charges against Polanski dismissed from court, saying that decades of publicity as well as the prosecutor's focus on lurid details continues to traumatize her and her family.

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 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 were he to enter the United Kingdom.

The trial started on July 18, 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 restaurant Elaine's could not have taken place on the date given, because Polanski only dined at this restaurant three weeks later. Also, the Norwegian model disputed accounts that he had claimed to be able to make her "the next Sharon Tate". In the course of the trial, Polanski did admit to having been unfaithful to Tate during their marriage.

Unwilling to return to the United States for fear of jail, Polanski continued his 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. It was the last time he would see her alive.

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).

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.

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 (particularly Captain Blood). The film was a major commercial and critical disaster, and stands as the biggest flop of Polanski's career.

The debacle of Pirates was followed by Frantic (1987), 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).

Polanski and Seigner married in 1989. They have two children, Morgane and Elvis. Elvis is named after Polanski's favorite singer, Elvis Presley.

In 1997, Polanski directed a stage version of The Fearless Vampire Killers, a musical, which debuted on October 4, 1997 in Vienna as Tanz der Vampire, the German title of the film version. After closing in Vienna, the show had successful runs in Stuttgart, Hamburg and Berlin.

On March 11, 1998 Polanski was elected a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.

In May 2002, Polanski won the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes Film Festival for The Pianist, for which he also took Césars for Best Film and Best Director, and later won the 2002 Academy Award for Directing. He did not attend the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood because he would have been arrested once he set foot in the United States. After the announcement of the "Best Director Award", Polanski received a standing ovation from most of those present in the theater . In 2004, he received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

During the summer and autumn of 2004, Polanski shot a new film adaptation of the Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist, based on Ronald Harwood's screenplay. The shooting took place at the Barrandov Studios in Prague, Czech Republic. The actors included Barney Clark (Oliver Twist), Jamie Foreman (Bill Sykes), Harry Eden (the Artful Dodger), Ben Kingsley (Fagin), Leeanne Rix (Nancy), and Edward Hardwicke (Mr. Brownlow). Besides the cast, the director gathered some collaborators from his previous movies: Ronald Harwood (screenplay), as noted, Allan Starski (production designer), Pawel Edelman (director of photography), and Anna Sheppard (costume designer).

Damian Chapa has completed an unauthorised biopic of Roman Polanski titled Polanski, which he co-wrote and directed in addition to playing the lead.

Polanski made a cameo appearance in Rush Hour 3 as a French police official. He is currently directing an adaption of Robert Harris' The Ghost, a novel about a writer who stumbles upon a secret while ghosting the autobiography of a former British prime minister. It will star Ewan McGregor as the writer and Pierce Brosnan as the prime minister. Filming takes place in Germany.

Most of Polanski's films are intelligent psychological suspense thrillers, notable for their deliberate pacing, carefully established mood and atmosphere, and often Gothic treatment of settings and characters. As a stylist, Polanski favors long takes, deep-focus photography, detailed mise-en-scène and wide panoramic compositions; jump cuts and montage almost never appear in his work.

A recurring theme in his work is the relationship between victim and perpetrator, and the unstable and shifting dynamics of power relations between characters often lead to sudden outbursts of grotesque violence. Many of Polanski's films (especially his early works) deal with characters struggling for mastery over an intractable situation and feature a circular plot structure — i.e., the action is framed by an ironic recurrence of events or reversal of fortunes at the end.

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Macbeth (1971 film)

Francesca Annis and director Roman Polanski on the set of Macbeth.

Macbeth is a 1971 film directed by Roman Polanski, based on William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth, about the Scots Lord who becomes King of Scotland through deceit, treachery, and murder. It features Jon Finch as Macbeth and Francesca Annis as Lady Macbeth. For cinematic purposes, passages from the original play were cut for time and some soliloquies changed to inner monologues for the sake of psychologic realism.

The film's bleak ending is the most significant departure from Shakespeare's text. Although Malcolm is crowned as Scotland's rightful king, his concluding speech is omitted in favour of an abrupt, wordless scene showing his brother, Donalbain, returning from exile and entering the witches' lair, implying that he will seek their counsel in usurping King Malcolm as Macbeth usurped King Duncan, thus re-cycling internecine bloodshed. Throughout the story, Donalbain is shown as envious of Malcolm, perhaps even more than was Macbeth.

The ending recasts the story as a closed circuit of action suggesting that the tragedy will be repeated ad infinitum. It may explain Fleance's founding of the House of Stuart, the extinction of Duncan's line, and the historical fact of Donalbain's ultimate betrayal of his brother, King Malcolm of Scotland. The sub-plot about the English installation of Malcolm to the Scots throne is downplayed to an extent not in the original work. This is Shakespeare's implication that Fleance is the ancestor of the contemporary King James, his benefactor.

Compared to other cinematic adaptations of The Tragedy of Macbeth, the bluntly explicit violence shows Macbeth in a historical light, rather than a dramatised regicide. Nevertheless, the attitude of Polanski's Macbeth is consistent with the whole of his concern with the unstable dynamics of power and sexuality and the cynic's questioning of conventional notions of heroism and redemptive action.

The film is composed of single-camera establishing shots and subjective point-of-view perspective, whereby the audience are vicarious, common, and voyeuristic participants in the action. Much of the dialogue lacks the emotive subtext imparted by a musical score; the actors' voices are heard sotto voce, accompanied by atonal wails and drones. As in his earlier Repulsion (1965), Polanski employs ominously unnatural silences and amplified sounds to create an enveloping discomfort and dread.

The foreshadowing scene wherein Macbeth confronts the witches a second time, and is invited to gaze into their cauldron to see his future, is a cryptic, hallucinatory set piece montage: His doppelgänger warns of the dangers to hand, culminating in a surreal visual allegory of the eventual, dynastic triumph of Banquo's heirs — King Banquo holds a looking glass with the image of a future King Banquo holding a looking glass. This mise en abyme effect is repeated eight-fold until, ultimately, young Fleance is seen grinning and crowned in the final, eighth looking glass; an allusion to Shakespeare's original stage direction that the last Banquo appear holding a looking glass.

In Polanski's version, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are played by actors younger than has been tradition. In the person of twenty-six-year-old Francesca Annis, Lady Macbeth is a softer, tamer woman than is usual.

Her strength and sanity crumble at a horrific pace when she, at last, is aware of the inescapable nightmare she has helped create. Polanski explained this by noting that "directors always present Lady Macbeth as a nagging bitch. But people who do ghastly things in life, they are not grim, like a horror movie". In an audacious departure from Shakespearean convention, Lady Macbeth's famous sleepwalking soliloquy is performed in the nude.

When his pregnant wife Sharon Tate was murdered, Roman Polanski quit his latest film project Day of the Dolphin and sank into deep psychological depression, blaming himself for the tragedy.

Meanwhile, he set to adapting The Tragedy of Macbeth, perhaps the bloodiest work in English literature, but major Hollywood studios refused to finance it. His financial saviour was friend Victor Lownes, a senior VP of Playboy Enterprises in Britain who persuaded Hugh Hefner to finance the film. The financing was believed by some to be the reason for Lady Macbeth's nude scene; later Polanski and co-scenarist Kenneth Tynan said they had written the scene before their association with Hefner.

Macbeth was filmed on location in Snowdonia National Park, Wales, U.K., and suffered delays of bad weather and malfunctioning special effects and Polanski's insistence on filming re-takes of difficult and expensively-mounted scenes. The shoot went over schedule, ultimately taking six months to complete and exceeded its $2.5 million budget by some $600,000.

Upon theatrical release in October 1971, Macbeth received mixed critical reviews; some found the relentless explicit violence and sexuality distracting, complaining that the literal depiction was a crude, reductive interpretation of Shakespeare's poetry. Likewise, Polanski's omission of Malcolm's concluding speech, in favour of the abruptly discordant and pessimistic ending, denied the viewer solace and respite by promising a recycling of horror. Other critics, however, praised the film for its powerfully disturbing vision, and for Polanski's rigorously logical, technically brilliant and imaginatively cinematic rendering of the play's action. The U.S. National Board of Review named Macbeth the Best Film of 1971.

Director Roman Polanski distanced himself from the Playboy magazine production company during the promotion of the film. When interviewed by Sydney Edwards of the Evening Standard, he cynically remarked about his mercenary acceptance of financing from the controversial men's magazine empire. Victor Lownes felt insulted and personally betrayed by Polanski's comments and indifference to the film's commercial failure, which ultimately was a significant financial loss to Playboy. The disillusioned and humiliated Lownes ended his friendship with Polanski in bitterness and rancour, not renewing the friendship until years later, when both were disgraced men; Playboy had fired Lownes for having lost its lucrative casino gambling licenses and nearly bankrupting the firm as a result; Polanski, fugitive from U.S. law after his conviction for statutory rape in Los Angeles, California, in 1977, and fleeing to Paris before his final sentencing.

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The Fearless Vampire Killers

Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski in The Fearless Vampire Killers.

The Fearless Vampire Killers (Originally titled Dance of the Vampires) is a 1967 movie directed by Roman Polanski and written by Gérard Brach. It has been produced as a musical, named Dance of the Vampires.

This film takes us into the heart of Transylvania where Professor Abronsius and his apprentice Alfred are on the hunt for vampires. Abronsius is old and withering and barely able to survive the cold ride through the wintry forests. Alfred is bumbling and introverted. The hunters come to a small Central European town seemingly at the end of a long search for signs of vampires. The two stay at a local inn, full of angst-ridden townspeople who perform strange rituals to fend off an unseen evil.

Whilst staying at the inn, Alfred develops a fondness for Sarah, the daughter of the tavern keeper Yoine Shagal. After witnessing Sarah being kidnapped by the vampire, Count von Krolock, the two follow his snow trail, leading them to Krolock's ominous castle in the snow-blanketed hills nearby. They break in to the castle, but are trapped by the Count's hunchback servant, Koukol. Upon being taken to see the count, he affects an air of aristocratic dignity whilst he cleverly questions Abronsius about his interest in bats and why he has come to the castle. They also encounter the Count's son, the foppish (and homosexual) Herbert. Meanwhile, Shagal himself has been vampirized and sets on his plan to turn Magda, the tavern's beautiful maidservant, into his vampire bride.

Despite misgivings, Abronsius and Alfred accept the Count's invitation to stay in his ramshackle gothic castle, where Alfred spends the night fitfully. The next morning, Abronsius plans to find the castle crypt and kill the Count, seemingly forgetting about the fate of Sarah. The crypt is guarded by the hunchback, so after some wandering they climb in through a roof window. However, Abronsius gets stuck in the window and it is up to Alfred to kill the Count, which he feels unable to do. He has to go back outside to free Abronsius, on the way coming upon Sarah having a bath in her room. She seems oblivious to her danger when he pleads for her to come away with him.

After freeing Abronsius, who is half frozen, they re-enter the castle. Alfred again seeks Sarah but meets Herbert instead, who first attempts to seduce him and then, after Alfred realizes that Herbert's reflection does not show in the mirror, reveals his vampire nature and attempts to bite him. Ambrosius and Alfred flee from Herbert through a dark stairway to safety, only to be trapped behind a locked door. They also realise night is falling. As they watch horrified, the gravestones below open up and they see that there are many vampires at the castle. The Count appears, mocking them and tells them their fate is sealed. He leaves them to attend a dance, where Sarah will be presented as the next vampire victim.

However, the hunters escape by boiling water under a cannon and blowing off the door, and come to the dance in disguise, where they grab Sarah and flee. Escaping by horse carriage, they are now unaware that it is too late for Sarah, who bites Alfred, thus allowing vampires to be released into the world.

Coming straight on the heels of Polanski's international success with Repulsion, the film was mounted on a lavish scale - color cinematography, huge sets in England, location filming in the Alps, elaborate costumes and choreography suitable for a period epic. Previously accustomed only to extremely low budgets, Polanski chose some of the finest English cinema craft artists to work on the film: cameraman Douglas Slocombe, production designer Wilfrid Shingleton. Polanski engaged noted choreographer Tutte Lemkow, who played the titular musician in Fiddler on the Roof, for the film's climactic danse macabre minuet.

During filming the director decided to switch formats to anamorphic while filming on location. Flat scenes already filmed were optically converted to match.

Though it was critically panned on its initial release, The Fearless Vampire Killers has garnered latter-day praise for its vivid atmosphere and audacious balance of broad comedy with Hammer Films-style horror.

This film was the source material for the wildly popular European stage musical Tanz der Vampire. It is peppered with numerous references to King Richard III of England, who even appears in the ball scene.

Director of Photography Douglas Slocombe would work with actor Ronald Lacey, who plays one of the villagers, again in the epic blockbuster film Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1980.

The Fearless Vampire Killers was Polanski's first feature to be photographed in color and using a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film's striking visual style, with its snow-covered, fairy-tale landscapes, recalls the work of Russian 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, after whom the innkeeper in the film is named.

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 earlier short film, Ssaki.

The score was provided by Krzysztof Komeda, who also scored Rosemary's Baby.

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The Ninth Gate

The Ninth Gate (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) cover

The Ninth Gate is a 1999 film based on the novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Spanning several genres, The Ninth Gate is a mix of mystery, horror thriller, and neo-noir, and additionally portrays facets of the rare book business. The film was co-written and directed by Roman Polanski, and stars Johnny Depp as Dean Corso, a rare-book dealer hired by a book collector (Frank Langella) to validate a copy of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, a book by 17th century author Aristide Torchia.

The film premiered in San Sebastián, Spain on August 25, 1999, a month before the 47th San Sebastian International Film Festival and was a critical and commercial failure in North America as most critics felt that it fell short of Polanski's best known supernatural thriller, Rosemary's Baby. The Ninth Gate managed to turn a profit with a worldwide box office gross of $58,401,898, well above its $38 million budget. It has since enjoyed a small cult following.

Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a rare-book dealer in New York whose only motivation is financial gain. Wealthy book collector Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) hires Corso to authenticate The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, a book by 17th century author Aristide Torchia, one of only three surviving copies, now in Balkan's possession. The book contains nine engravings which, when correctly deciphered and the interpretations properly spoken, are alleged to raise the Devil. Balkan suspects the book may be a forgery, and hires Corso to travel to Europe, assess the other two known copies, discover whether any are genuine, and if so, acquire them for Balkan at any cost.

Balkan's copy of The Nine Gates had previously belonged to Andrew Telfer, who committed suicide shortly after selling the book to Balkan. Telfer's widow Liana (Lena Olin) wants the book back, as Telfer originally bought the book for her. Liana seduces Corso in a failed attempt to reacquire her book. Corso's business partner and book store owner Bernie (James Russo), whom Corso had asked to hide the book, is murdered in the style of one of the engravings in The Nine Gates. Like The Hanged Man, Bernie is found hanging by one foot upside down.

Corso travels to Toledo, in Spain, and talks to the Ceniza brothers (Jose Lopez Rodero), twin book restorers who show him that some of the book's engravings are signed "LCF." Prompting Corso to guess who the initials refer to, the Cenizas agree when he responds with "Lucifer." Corso next goes by train to Sintra, in Portugal, and visits Victor Fargas (Jack Taylor), whose copy Corso compares with Balkan's, noting several variations in the engravings. The next morning, Corso is awakened by a mysterious young woman (Emmanuelle Seigner) with whom he has been crossing paths; she then leads Corso back to Fargas' home to find him murdered and the engravings ripped out of his copy of The Nine Gates. Later, the unnamed woman displays supernatural ability when she rescues Corso from an attack by Telfer's bodyguard (Tony Amoni).

In Paris, Corso tracks down the third surviving copy owned by Baroness Kessler (Barbara Jefford). He records additional differences in her copy before she is killed and pages from her book are removed. Corso, now believing each copy of The Nine Gates to be genuine, suspects that the secret to opening the nine gates can be found in a combination of all three copies. Telfer steals Balkan's copy out of Corso's hotel room, and he follows her to a mansion to witness her using it to lead a Satanist ceremony. Balkan suddenly interrupts the ceremony, kills Telfer, takes the torn out engravings and his own intact copy, and drives away believing that Corso is correct and all three copies are genuine.

Realizing that Balkan is responsible for the deaths of Victor Fargas and Baroness Kessler, Corso locates Balkan and witnesses him preparing to open the gates himself. However, because one of the engravings he uses is a forgery, Balkan's invocation fails and he dies consumed by flames (before Corso finishes him off by shooting him with Telfer's own gun). The mysterious girl has sex with Corso and directs him back to the Ceniza brothers' shop. There he discovers the final authentic engraving, which includes a likeness of the mystery girl herself, thereby allowing Corso to identify the correct location and travel through the ninth portal, to an unestablished fate, at the film's conclusion.

The actual name of The Girl is never revealed (when asked her name, she replies "Guess").

Roman Polanski received the screenplay by Enrique Urbizu that adapted the book, El Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. The filmmaker was so taken by Urbizu's script that he read the novel. He liked the novel because, "I saw so many elements that seemed good for a movie. It was suspenseful, funny, and there were a great number of secondary characters that are tremendously cinematic." Pérez-Reverte's book featured several intertwined plots and so Polanski decided to write his own draft with long-time screenwriting partner, John Brownjohn (they had collaborated previously on Tess, Pirates and Bitter Moon). The source novel contains numerous literary references and a subplot concerning Corso’s investigation into the original manuscript for a chapter of The Three Musketeers. Polanski and Brownjohn jettisoned these elements and focused on one particular plot line: Corso’s pursuit of the authentic copy of The Nine Gates.

While reading the book, Polanski thought of Johnny Depp as Corso. The actor became attached to the project as early as 1997 when he met Polanski at the Cannes Film Festival promoting his directorial debut The Brave that was in competition. Initially, the veteran filmmaker did not think that Depp was right for the role of Corso because the character was 40-years-old. Polanski was thinking of casting an older actor but Depp was persistent and wanted to work with him. Hints of friction between Depp and Polanski while working on the film surfaced in the press around the time of its North American release. The actor said, "It's the director's job to push, to provoke things out of an actor". Polanski told one interviewer, "He decided to play it rather flat which wasn't how I envisioned it. And I didn't tell him it wasn't how I saw it." Corso's dishevelled look was modelled after Raymond Chandler's famous sleuth, Philip Marlowe according to the director.

Polanski cast Frank Langella as Balkan after seeing him in Adrian Lyne’s version of Lolita. Barbara Jefford was a last minute casting decision because the German actress originally cast was struck with pneumonia and another actress couldn't learn the lines. Jefford came in with only a few days notice, learned her lines, and affected a German accent. Filming took place in France, Portugal and Spain during the summer of 1998.

The main theme of the film is based on Camille Saint-Saëns' piece for violin and orchestra, Havanaise. A portion of the film score consists of a vocalise sung by Korean soprano Sumi Jo.

While the movie follows the book close for the first two-thirds of the story, the finale is severely changed in the film. The most notable change from novel to movie was the ommision of an important subplot revolving around an orginal chapter from The Three Musketeers (the forty-second, Le vin d'Anjou) which falls into Corso's hands (Lucas Corso in the novel) and he must verify its authenticity while at the same time researching on The Nine Gates. The manuscript proves to be authentic, but also proves to be one of several involving the collaboration of Alexandre Dumas's real-life partner Auguste Maquet, effectively endangering Dumas' reputation as sole creator of The Three Musketeers. This is also the reason why Liana Telfer (in the book, Taillefer) and her bodyguard (in the book, an actor pretending to be Rochefort, a character from the novel) chase Corso and effectively steal the chapter back. In the end it becomes evident that Telfer, "Rochefort" and Boris Balkan (who narrates the novel as supposedly told by Corso to him) belong to The Club Dumas, a secret but benign society bent on preserving Dumas' reputation. The plot revolving around The Nine Doors does not involve either of these characters (although Corso does not know that and mistakenly thinks both the manuscript and the book as being somehow connected). Instead, it involves Varo Borja, a satanic millionaire bent on summoning Satan (his character was renamed Boris Balkan in the movie, leaving the real Balkan - along with Club Dumas and the Dumas manuscript - entirely out from the movie). It is Borja who dies while attempting to invoke the devil (but is not killed by Corso). Another important change is Corso's librarian friend. In the film he is called Bernie and is killed early in the story. In the book, his name is Flavio La Ponte and survives the ordeal altogether: he engages in an affair with Liana, who uses him to get the manuscript back; later on he falls apart from Corso as he proves to be nothing but a coward. The final significant change revolves around the mysterious girl who follows Corso around. She remains equally nameless in both book and adaptation (though in the novel she assumes the obviosuly fake alias of Irene Adler and frequently refers and is referred as that). Her identity is made evident in the novel: while in the film it is alluded that she might be the devil herself, in the novel this is suspected by Corso early into their partnership and later on she confesses to being a fallen angel (but not the devil). In both stories they have sex, but whereas in the film this occurs in the end and leads to an ambiguous ending, the sex in the novel happens halfway through the story and carries no other consequences than remaning together in the end. Minor subplots such as Corso's tortuous flashbacks from a previous relationship with a woman named Nikon, as well as him mentally reliving the Battle of Waterloo over and over again (depending on the situation). Parallels with The Three Musketeers (Liana being Milady, her bodyguard being Rochefort, Corso d'Artagnan, Flavio Athos, etc.) are also ommitted.

The Ninth Gate premiered in San Sebastián, Spain on August 25, 1999. On its opening weekend in North America, the film debuted in 1,586 theaters and grossed $6,622,518. While eventually only making $18,661,336 in North America, it went on to make $58,401,898 worldwide, well above its budget of $38 million.

After the film's release, Artisan Entertainment sued Polanski for allegedly taking more than $1 million from the budget, pocketing refunds of France's value-added tax instead of turning them over to Artisan's completion bond company.

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The Tenant


The Tenant (French: Le Locataire) is a 1976 psychological thriller/horror film directed by Roman Polanski based upon the 1964 novel Le locataire chimérique by Roland Topor. It is also known under the French title Le Locataire. It co-stars actress Isabelle Adjani. It is the last film in Polanski's "Apartment Trilogy", following Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby.

Trelkovsky (Polanski), a quiet and inconspicuous man, rents an apartment in France where the previous tenant committed suicide, and begins to suspect his landlord and neighbors are trying to subtly change him into the last tenant so that he too will kill himself.

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Frantic (film)


Frantic is a noted 1988 thriller film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Harrison Ford.

Harrison Ford plays Dr Richard Walker, a surgeon visiting Paris with his wife for a medical conference. At their hotel his wife is unable to open her suitcase and Walker tells her she has picked up the wrong one at the airport. While Walker is taking a shower his wife mysteriously disappears from their hotel room. Still jet-lagged, he searches for her in the hotel with the help of a polite but mostly indifferent staff, then wanders outside to look further on his own. A street-person overhears him in a and tells Walker he saw his wife being forced into a car. Walker is sceptical until he finds his wife's ID bracelet on the cobblestones. He contacts the US embassy and the Paris police but their responses are bureaucratic and there is little hope anyone will look for her. As Walker carries on the search himself (with input from a very sympathetic but wary desk clerk at the hotel) he stumbles onto a murder scene and then the streetwise young Michelle (Emmanuelle Seigner) who mistakenly picked up his wife's suitcase at the airport. It transpires that she is a career smuggler but does not know for whom she is working, and thus reluctantly helps Walker. This begins his frantic attempt, with the young woman's help, to learn what was in the switched suitcase and trade whatever it was for his wife's life.

It turns out that hidden within a small replica of the Statue of Liberty is a krytron, a small switch capable of detonating nuclear devices. The film ends with a confrontation on the River Seine where the terrorists hand Walker his wife back. However, a firefight ensues between the terrorists and other agents, and Michelle is killed in the crossfire. Angry and upset, Walker throws the krytron into the river.

The French locations and Ennio Morricone's musical score create much of the film's atmosphere. Grace Jones' recording of "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)" is heard at key moments in the film.

Frantic was mentioned in the Barenaked Ladies' song "One Week" and also referenced in Mos Def's "Ms. Fat Booty" from Black on Both Sides. The song "Frantic" by Aqueduct has both a "Roman Polanski Version" and an instrumental "Harrison Ford Version".

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Source : Wikipedia