Ro­man Polan­ski: Direc­tor’s life marked by hor­ror and scan­dal

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Paris

Like his own films, the life of Os­car-win­ning direc­tor Ro­man Polan­ski has been haunted by hor­ror, vi­o­lence and scan­dal, turn­ing him into one of the world’s most vis­i­ble fugi­tives from jus­tice.

In the lat­est twist to a child sex case dat­ing back nearly four decades, Poland’s Supreme Court on Tues­day re­jected a bid to ex­tra­dite the 83-year-old Pol­ish-French film­maker to the United States.

Polan­ski pleaded guilty in 1977 to un­law­ful sex with a 13-yearold girl in Hol­ly­wood, but fled the US be­fore sen­tenc­ing.

His work has earned praise from crit­ics and au­di­ences alike, win­ning eight Acad­emy Awards on 27 nom­i­na­tions.

But his ad­mis­sion that he had un­law­ful sex with 13-year-old Sa­man­tha Gai­ley af­ter ply­ing her with al­co­hol and pills, and his sub­se­quent flight from jus­tice, fu­eled a tor­rent of dis­gusted crit­i­cism.

Polan­ski has since been en­gaged in a decades­long catand - mouse game with US of­fi­cials seek­ing his ex­tra­di­tion for trial, be­fore a global au­di­ence split be­tween con­tin­u­ing out­rage and for­give­ness for his acts.

When Poland’s Supreme Court dis­missed the ap­peal on Tues­day, defini­tively end­ing the na­tion’s part in the case, Polan­ski’s lawyer Jerzy Sta­chow­icz told reporters: “We hope one day it will be over in the United States.”

Polan­ski was born in Paris in 1933 to Pol­ish Jewish par­ents, who later brought the fam­ily back to their na­tive coun­try.

He was eight when the Nazis ar­rested his par­ents in Krakow’s Jewish ghetto — send­ing them to con­cen­tra­tion camps from which his mother never re­turned.

He fled the ghetto and roamed the coun­try­side, try­ing to sur­vive, helped by Catholic Pol­ish fam­i­lies, in a coun­try oc­cu­pied by Ger­man troops.

The ex­pe­ri­ence lent a grip­ing au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal au­then­tic­ity to his 2002 movie The Pi­anist, the tale of a young Jewish man try­ing to evade the Nazis in oc­cu­pied War­saw.

His youth­ful ob­ser­va­tion of the hu­man ca­pac­ity for cru­elty shaped Polan­ski’s psy­cho­log­i­cally wrought work from the start.

His 1962 fea­ture de­but in Poland, Knife in the Wa­ter, was an erotic thriller about a cou­ple invit­ing a switch­bladetot­ing hitch­hiker onto their yacht. While panned at home, it earned praise in the West, and was nom­i­nated for the Best For­eign Film Os­car.

Lured to Hol­ly­wood in 1968, Polan­ski shot his first big in­ter­na­tional hit, Rose­mary’s Baby, star­ring Mia Far­row as an ex­pect­ing mother car­ry­ing the devil’s spawn.

But tragedy shat­tered Polan­ski’s life again the fol- low­ing year when his heav­i­lypreg­nant wife, the model and ac­tress Sharon Tate, and four friends were bru­tally slaugh­tered in the direc­tor’s man­sion by cult leader Charles Man­son and his fol­low­ers.

Dev­as­tated, Polan­ski left for Europe, then re­turned to achieve ar­guably his great­est tri­umph in 1974 with Chi­na­town — an at­mo­spheric film noir star­ring Jack Ni­chol­son nom­i­nated for 11 Os­cars, and still con­sid­ered a clas­sic.

In 1977 Polan­ski was ar­rested af­ter Gai­ley, now known as Sa­man­tha Geimer, charged that he forced her to have sex af­ter drug­ging her.

The ini­tial felony counts were re­duced to un­law­ful sex­ual in­ter­course charges as part of a guilty plea bar­gain that saw Polan­ski serve 42 days in de­ten­tion while un­der­go­ing psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion.

In 1978, con­vinced the judge was pre­par­ing to ig­nore the deal and hand him a heavy jail sen­tence, Polan­ski fled for France, be­gin­ning his new life as a fugi­tive.

In 2009 he was ar­rested in Switzer­land and spent 10 months un­der house ar­rest but was not ex­tra­dited.

Geimer her­self has called for the charges to be dropped, com­plain­ing that in dog­ging Polan­ski for so long, an­tag­o­nists had made him her co-vic­tim in a case she wanted to put be­hind her.

“The public­ity was so trau­matic and so hor­ri­ble that his pun­ish­ment was sec­ondary to just get­ting this whole thing to stop,” Geimer told CNN in 2003.

De­spite that view, Wash­ing­ton filed a re­quest with Poland in Jan­uary to ex­tra­dite Polan­ski while shoot­ing a film there.

A court in the city of Krakow ruled against the de­mand in 2015. Then on Tues­day, the Supreme Court re­jected an ap­peal by the gov­ern­ment.

The public­ity was so trau­matic and so hor­ri­ble that his pun­ish­ment was sec­ondary to just get­ting this whole thing to stop.” Sa­man­tha Geimer, ac­tress


Cap­tain Safia Ferozi sits in the cock­pit of a C-208 be­fore a flight at a mil­i­tary air­base in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Ro­man Polan­ski

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