In 1977, Roman Polanski was arrested in Los Angeles on charges he gave drugs and had sex with a 13-year-old girl he was photographing for Vogue. Eleven months later, having pled guilty to one count, he fled to Europe before sentencing. This film examines that year-long period, using archival footage of the media frenzy and of Polanski's life before the charges, clips from his films, and contemporary interviews with many of the principles - attorneys, the victim, and Polanski's friends and associates. Polanski remains enigmatic, but portraits emerge of the machinations of justice and of a judge more interested in his image than his word or the law.Written by
On 26 September 2009, Roman Polanski was detained by Swiss police at Zurich Airport while trying to enter Switzerland. Since this was only 1 year and 7 months after the release of this widely discussed documentary at Sundance (Jan.18, 2008), there is reason to believe, that this film was actually what caused the new arrest warrant, because it dared to question the legality of Polanski's L.A. trial in 1977 and 1978 before he fled to France on 1st February 1978. Polanski and his lawyers also tried to use the new evidence from this documentary to attack the L.A. justice system, which must have awakened their new interest in the old case, too. See more »
Interesting, yet not hard enough on the main character
This HBO documentary is not about Roman Polanski's entire life. In fact, it is to the greatest extent centered in the court case from which he fled in 1978, where he was sentenced for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, in fact a 13-year-old girl. A lot of archive footage is used and is very well-edited to paint a picture of a great director who has battled a lot of turmoils in life (most notably the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate). A lot of judicial figures are interviewed in depth regarding the court case, the very peculiar (and probably criminal) judge Rittenband, along with journalists from the time and friends of Polanski. The music - mostly period jazz - is used very nicely, often alongside period snippets from TV news. The main character is not interviewed for this documentary, and while I feel the documentary skirts away too much from Polanski's pedophile act, his victim has since forgiven him and there are a couple of interesting facts about her mother's role in the case. All in all this is a good documentary about the chilling events surrounding a human being who happens to be a world-renowned film-director. By the way, David Wells has admitted to lying in the documentary, and it's interesting to see if anything will really happen to Polanski now that he - 31 years after fleeing the USA - is arrested in Switzerland because of his outstanding punishment.
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