Belfast Telegraph

Total disgrace child-abuser Roman Polanski is still making movies

By Alice Jones

Roman Polanski is 81 years old and shows no signs of retiring. He is currently in Paris directing a Gothic musical version of his 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers. He is also working on a film about the 19th century French political crisis that was the Dreyfus affair, which he hopes to shoot in Poland next year.

The shoot is significant for the director on a personal as well as a professional level; he was born to Polish parents in Paris and brought up in Krakow. Now, he said on Polish television last week, he wants to "show Poland, which they barely know, to my growing children".

There is a reason Polanski's growing children barely know Poland: their father risks jail if he sets foot on Polish land.

Poland has an extradition arrangement with America and Polanski has been wanted by the US police since 1978 when he fled the country after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

Following a photoshoot at Jack Nicholson's house, Polanski plied Samantha Gailey with Champagne and half a Quaalude before sexually assaulting her.

He later drove her home to her parents where he smoked a joint and showed them the results of her topless shoot. Hardly the actions of a man who thinks he has done wrong.

That girl is now 51; last year Samantha Geimer, as she is now called, published The Girl: A Life Lived In The Shadow Of Roman Polanski. Polanski, on the other hand, could not be said to have lived a life in the shadow of Samantha Gailey.

Unlike his victim, who has resigned herself to being known forever as "the girl", Polanski is allowed multiple identities today: he is considered one of the world's greatest directors thanks to films like Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown. He is also considered one of cinema's great survivors: he lived through the Krakow ghetto, lost his mother at Auschwitz and saw his second wife Sharon Tate and her unborn child brutally murdered by the Manson family.

His crime has brought with it inconveniences. Like the fact he can no longer live and work in Hollywood, or that, when he won an Oscar for The Pianist in 2003, he had to accept it in absentia.

In 2009, due to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival, he was arrested and held for two months before living under house arrest for a further nine. Last week in Krakow, Polanski's "notoriety" caused him further problems. America issued another arrest warrant, but it was dismissed by the Poles. It now looks likely Polanski will be allowed to make his £27m movie, "a large-scale project, comparable with The Pianist", according to its producer.

Polanski told a Polish news channel that he hoped the question of extradition was now settled "once and for all". He is, apparently, unstoppable, but then as Geimer said of her ordeal, Hollywood folk tend to "get used to no one saying no".

Perhaps, though, it is time to say no. The sleazy refrain of "they were different times" to justify unlawful sex does not wash.

And, as the case of footballer Ched Evans highlights, there are no degrees of rape. Whether an attacker is a film director, a footballer or a fan matters little to his victim.

That Polanski made some of the great films of the last century is in no doubt. That he committed a crime for which he served only 42 days before fleeing the US is also in no doubt. That he is still permitted to work by a billion-dollar film industry is a baffling disgrace.

Belfast Telegraph


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