Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Polanski documentary

This will be brief. As a Roman Polanski fan, I watched the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired, and was appalled by it.

The subject matter was very interesting but the film-makers managed to do nothing with it. A good chunk of the film was showing Polanski's past, which tended to paint his life and interests in a very obvious fashion, showed information that you could get with a little research without comment worth a damn, managed to find no intriguing opinion on him, simply commented that he liked to party and made dark films, that he had an awful past, that his wife and unborn child was killed.

The rape case was a mess in how it was handled. The film seemed to avoid trying for objectivity, was stacked completely in favour of Polanski. The crime was pushed to the background for so much of the documentary, save for a few talking heads of the victim and the testimony, which was typed white testimony against black background. That simply wasn't good enough. This was a man who had sex with a thirteen year old girl. And yet the film was far more focused on how the judge was messing with Polanski, how poorly he was treated, how he couldn't proceed with his next film, yet they seemed to be letting him off with probation for a very serious crime, which he should have gone to jail for. The judge looked to be scared of giving Polanski jail time, yet not wanting to give him jail time, which was a mess of course. But it wasn't worth half the film, wasn't interesting in itself, nor in its handling, as it became special pleading for a sex offender. If this was not a famous film director, all the defences of Polanski would be seen as ridiculous and he would be thrown in jail, seen as a sex pest. That happens to others who do this horrible crime. But the film focuses away from that, from any objectivity, on a minor element of a crazy judge, the fear of jail due to his actions causing Polanski to flee, rather than face the crime itself and the way the law was bending to suit the defendant, because he was a talented film director. A focus on sex offenders, a contrast of the handling of the case to other sex offenders would have made a much better and more honest film.

So film never takes any intelligent stance, in what is a very difficult subject matter, never truly gets into the horror of the crime, nor chastises Polanski. Basically it's a complete disgrace.

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