Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Polanski on Polanski

From an article on Roman Polanski, written by Martin Amis and found in his essay collection Visiting Mrs. Nabokov:

When I was being driven to the police station from the hotel, [Polanski said], the car radio was already talking about it. The newsmen were calling the police before I was arrested to see whether they can break the news. I couldn't believe...I thought, you know, I was going to wake up from it. I realise, if I have killed somebody, it wouldn't have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But...fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck you girls. Juries want to fuck young girls -- everyone wants to fuck young girls! No, I knew then, this is going to be another big, big thing.

Is commentary really necessary? From what I've gathered over the last few days, apparently so, as few will regard this passage as speaking for itself in the same way I do. Then again, no amount of commentary will convince anyone that if Polanski wasn't an acclaimed film director (a great one, I will acknowledge parenthetically, in much the same way that his defenders often parenthetically acknowledge that he raped a child) but rather, say, a priest, no one in Hollywood would be lining up to sign petitions demanding his release.

Same as it ever was, I suppose. It's amazing what Chinatown can do for a guy.

12 comments:

The Siren said...

Bill, I have had that passage in the back of mind during every conversation about Polanski. I had taken a vow not to discuss this anymore as the rhetoric is going to make me as deaf as Pete Townsend, but you brought me out of hiding with this quote.

bill r. said...

It does sort of muck with the image, preferred by some, of a man who made an unfortunate error in judgment, and is in the process of being hounded into the grave as a result, doesn't it?

Rick Olson said...

Yes, it does, as did that documentary I saw on HBO awhile back, the name of which escapes me at the moment.

bill r. said...

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. To be honest, I still haven't seenn it, Rick, but I've heard from several quarters that it's very biased in Polanski's favor, so I'm very intrigued by the fact that you came away from it with that impression. Maybe I should finally check it out.

Rick Olson said...

I thought, though it is biased in Polanski's favor, that somehow he comes out slimy and narcissistic in the end. Or maybe it was my projection ...

Rick Olson said...

Also, did you read Emerson's piece? He fairly accurately describes the documentary ... still, even though it pointed out the judge's grandstanding and going back on a plea-bargain, I thought Polanski came across as non-repentant and cold. Does that mean the judge should have gone back on the plea bargain?

bill r. said...

The legality of what the judge did is interesting. I'm far from being an authority on the matter, but supposedly what he did wasn't actually illegal. Depending on the circumstances, I suppose it can be unethical, but, well, I should see the documentary, or read up on that aspect of the case more closely. Though to be honest, judicial misconduct will not change how I feel about Polanski.

Fox said...

I know I like Polanski the artist. I don't know much about the man, or the situation he put himself in with that 13 year old girl (was it consentual? was she drugged? was she forced?... I can't seem to get a straight answer from anywhere) or the court case, or the laws, etc.

What I guess I'm trying to get at is that I love Polanski's films, but before I come out and defend the guy like Wim Wenders (another person I like) has, I half to know more, and I doubt I ever will.

I am a selfish hypocrit myself on this b/c secretly I want Polanski to go free so he can make more films, and move on, but as Bill perfectly points out, we should be across the board on moral & ethical judgments such as these. Artists typically are given slack in situations like these, and I'm not sure why. Is it because we more easily accept a deviancy coming from them and not a school teacher or politician??

I will say that I watched Bitter Moon about a month ago, followed by The Fearless Vampire Killers and both of them had a "f*cking young girls" to it that was inescapably creepy.

bill r. said...

Fox, all the evidence that the public has available, which includes the victim's testimony, was that Polanski drugged her and raped her. And not statutory rape -- she said no, she said she was scared, she asked to go home, he did it anyway. You can find the court transcripts online.

Artists typically are given slack in situations like these, and I'm not sure why...

I'm not sure why either, but I've yet to be convinced that this isn't at the heart of the controversy, for most people, anyway. Hell, Debra Wagner called the anti-Polanski contingent "Philistines", which is, of course, an insult typically hurled at people who are thought to have lowbrow, or at best middlebrow, tastes in art.

Fox said...

Well, if it's not statutory rape (not that that's clean and clear, but I think it's vastly different), then I don't see how people can defend Polanki's actions.

I guess they are coming from a let bygones be bygones stance? Or, perhaps since the girl has said she wants this to be over?? I get people like Wenders coming to the aid of their friend, I really do, but for people like Winger to not accept a sound argument from the other side is just daft on her part.

This situation can be approached in numerous ways, but what - I hope - people can at least admit, is that what he did was wrong.

I guess what leaves a cloud in my head is the length of time that's passed. I know he fled and thus was unable to face trial here, but why now? And who exactly is pursuing this? Is it the California attorney general??

Rick Olson said...

we should be across the board on moral & ethical judgments such as these.

Yes. And plea bargains are part of our legal system, for better or ill. I don't defend what he did, and as I said, he seems to be a pretty slimy guy, albeit one who can make great movies, but with all the inequalities in our justice system, why are we obsessing over a guy fleeing to avoid sentencing?

And our relationship with art is pretty weird: Perhaps we should reverse it: If he wasn't a world renowned filmmaker and husband of Sharon Tate, would anyone give a shit? Especially since the victim has gotten justice (she won a law suit) and sees no need to pursue the matter anymore. Is this a case of American Justice Will Not Be Denied?

I'm like you, Fox, I don't have much of an opinion -- he seems like a guy who likes or liked to fuck young girls, as Bill's direct quotes from him would indicate. And he drugged her and raped her, that is not an issue. But like Fox, I ask why now? Who's going to make a name for himself finally bringing him to justice? Will they try it over again? Will the plea bargain be upheld + charges of fleeing to avoid sentencing? Who knows.

Count Gregula said...

Bill, sorry I missed this conversation.

Read this piece from Salon if you haven't already. It's a terrific piece in my opinion, one that answers most questions about the case and says what you and I have been feeling.

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