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Posts Tagged ‘roman polanski’

(Post edited)

Since Sharon’s death [Roman Polanski’s wife Sharon Tate was murdered] … and despite all appearances to the contrary, my enjoyment of life has been incomplete.In moments of unbearable personal tragedy some people find solace in religion. In my case the opposite happened. Any religious faith I had was shattered by Sharon’s murder. It reinforced my faith in the absurd.

I still go through the motions of being a professional entertainer… but I know in my heart of hearts that the spirit of laughter has deserted me. It isn’t just that success has left me jaded or that I’ve been soured by tragedy and by my own follies. I seem to be toiling to no discernible purpose. I feel I’ve lost the right to innocence, to a pure appreciation of life’s pleasures. My childish gullibility and loyalty to my friends have cost me dear, not least in my relations with the press, but my growing wariness has been just as self-destructive.

I am widely regarded, I know, as an evil, profligate dwarf. My friends–and the women in my life–know better.

The last page from Roman Polanski’s autobiography, which I happened to re-read last night.

(But then, those who know only tangentially about Polanski have perhaps been looking at my last few posts with the same kind of bewildered skepticism that I have when I see intelligent people believing in God, or astrology, or communism.)

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Many of those who believe Polanski forcibly raped Geimer rely on the Grand Jury testimony as their primary piece of supporting evidence. So I think it would be nice to also take a look at the actual probation report, made at the time of the incident, by Santa Monica deputy Irwin Gold. The whole report — which recommended no jail time — is here. I would like to quote a couple of relevant portions:

Neither the mother nor the doctor are in any vindictive. They have asked for a demonstration of remorse and have requested the defendant not to be incarcerated.

[…] Neither doctor has found the defendant to be a mentally disordered sex offender. Dr. Markman has indicated that the present offense was neither a forceful nor an aggressive sexual act.

[…] There was some indication that circumstances were provocative, that there was some permissiveness by the mother, that the victim was not only physically mature but willing; as one doctor has additionally suggested there was the lack of coercion by the defendant, who was additionally, solicitous regarding the possibility of pregnancy. It is believed that incalculable emotional damage could result from incarcerating the defendant whose own life has been a seemingly unending series of punishments.

Not that this report should be viewed as necessarily the whole truth; I just ask those who condemn him that they take into account all the pieces of evidence available  from the time before reaching a conclusion.

***

I would also like to say a few words about  how I generally form credibility notions about people I have not met or do not know personally. This is less of an explanation and more of a personal note.

A commenter to my previous post on the Polanski arrest implies that it is hasty and unwise to make conclusions about personal credibility from other areas. I agree, generally. There are a lot of people whose work I admire. I love every movie made by Quentin Tarantino. Would I make any claim to knowing him? No. Ditto for Kubrick, Copolla or any of those many other people who I have immense regard for.

But there’s high admiration and there’s feeling that a certain piece of work speaks to you in that indefinable way– where the boundaries between art and life get blurry, where you think you could have made this piece of work, had you enough talent.

Let me put down a few pieces of work that belong to this rare category, which I will refer to as identification. Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead”. Hardy’s “A Mathematician’s apology”. Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gastby.” And yes,  most of Polanski’s movies, most notably “Bitter Moon”, “Knife in the water” and “Rosemary’s baby.”

But even that does not necessarily translate into my apportioning credibility into other areas.

I identify with Hardy’s view of mathematics. But I would never claim to know him on the personal, sexual or political plane. I would never claim to speak for Rand’s view of mathematical logic, even though I know a great deal about her thoughts on those matters, or about her sexual integrity, even though the sex/SM description in “The Fountainhead” (Dominique wants Howard, yet purposely resists with all her strength and makes him conquer her) is one of my favourite passages. Nor would I claim to speak for Fitzgerald’s integrity on anything except dreams.

And it would be foolish if I did. Even with identification acquired from creations, this identification should be restricted to only those aspects of the creator which those creations tell you significantly about.

But I say that I trust Polanski when he says he didn’t coerce sex on that girl. Why do I make such a claim?

First of all, as I have already mentioned, it isn’t just that I deeply admire his work. It’s that I see things in them that I think most do not. For I identify. And that allows me to get a glimpse of some aspects of his psyche in a peculiarly strong way.

But it is not just his work. It is also his autobiography, which, whatever else one can say about it, is one of the most harrowingly honest things ever written. It also sheds an immense amount of further light on his thinking on many of these subjects.

Even with all this, I would not claim to know Polanski completely. I just claim to know some things about him that are related to sexual matters, to his vision of evil and innocence and domination, and to his personal integrity. As I mentioned, this is a composite of both knowing and identifying with his work, and to reading his memoir.

So yes, credibility in work does not necessarily translate to credibility in other arenas. But in Polanski’s case, and restricted to this particular incident, it does for me.

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I may be on some sort of unannounced blogging hiatus, but how can I possibly go without writing a word on the arrest of Roman Polanski ?

The facts are well-known and I will keep it short: Polanski was accused in 1977  by the authorities of  plying then 13 year old Samantha Gailey with champagne and a sliver of a quaalude tablet and then having sex with her during a photo shoot at actor Jack Nicholson’s house. As a part of a plea bargain, Polanski pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, but the judge refused to accept the plea, thinking it let him off too lightly. Ultimately Polanski fled to France, and has lived for the last 32 years without arrest, till the events of last week, when he was arrested while trying to enter Switzerland where he was going to be honored at a film festival.

Normally, I would be mildly indifferent to this incident. But because it is Polanski, I cannot. Since my early undergrad years he has been my favourite director, aye, the greatest of all time. His movies have an astonishing ability to move and horrify and mesmerize my insides, and some of them, such as Bitter Moon, are part of me in a sense I cannot adequately convey. Like a true fan, I have collected all his works, famous and less-known, and I have hunted down his autobiography in some obscure book-shop and then read it cover to cover. I know every trivia about him that’s  worth knowing. I have loved him with all my heart and cried for the tragic misfortunes that have marked his life. So naturally, I feel an extraordinary affinity for him and his fate.

So what really happened all those years ago with this 13 year old girl? First of all, I have always believed that statutory rape, especially with older victims (those who are in their teens), is an entirely different and far less serious crime than actual rape. Not just because the act is consensual but also because the age of consent is such an arbitrary construct. But Polanski’s case is even more interesting. For Polanski has always maintained that while (consensual) sex did take place, no drugging happened and the girl represented herself as an adult at the time of the event. I believe his version completely. Indeed the probation report itself quotes one of the witnesses as saying, “She appeared to be one of those kind of little chicks between — could be any age up to 25. She did not look like a 13-year-old scared little thing.” And if we were to accept that Polanski reasonably thought the woman was 18, I do not think he deserves to be charged for anything.

Could it be that my thinking is biased due to my immense admiration for the man? Possible, but if it is biased it is so in such an inextricable way from my being that it is hopeless to try and separate it out. And that’s why this post had to be written. For this is after all a personal blog, and Polanski’s fate is of personal importance to me.

And it all happened in the city I live in currently!

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