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USA/United Kingdom 2008
Directed by
Marina Zenovich
96 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired

The title of Marina Zenovich’s documentary refers to the American versus European perceptions of Polanski  - in Europe he is desired, in America he is wanted. In the latter case, not for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13 year old in 1977 but for fleeing the country prior to sentencing for his crime.

Whilst Polanski pleaded guilty to the charge as a part of a plea bargain that saw the more serious charge of rape, amongst others, dropped, there is no dispute that he was himself victim of a media feeding frenzy and the grotesque limelight-seeking antics of Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, who had presided over Priscilla’s divorce from Elvis and a Cary Grant paternity suit. Unfortunately Zenovich doesn’t tackle the moral quandary summed up in the title but it is a strikingly well-resourced account of the case with extensive archival footage and current interviews with many of the people connected with the case, including the victim herself. Whilst one is inclined to say that the truth will never be known (Polanski gave his version in his 1984 autobiography, Roman by Polanski), interestingly all the people who knew the director personally have only kind words to say about him.

Principally of appeal to those interested in Polanksi as a director, prosecutor Roger Gunson makes the most pertinent comment in this respect. At the time a straight 37 year old Morman who knew nothing of Polanski’s films he attended a retrospective of the films that happened to be showing at a local cinema. He noticed that Polanski’s film had a common them of corruption meeting innocence over water and points out the real life similarities in the case, with Polanski (corruption), the 13 year old (innocence) cavorting in a Jacuzzi (water).

DVD Extras: English captions for the hearing-impaired; English Audio Description for the vision-impaired.




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