June 10, 2009

Movie Review: Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

I haven’t seen any of Roman Polanski's movies, which isn’t too shocking, since ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ strikes me as the most terrifying premise for a film ever (And I don’t do scary.), and I really try to avoid movies about the Holocaust. (Yes, you’re talking to a one-time film major who has never seen ‘Schindler’s List.’) But I know what an important figure he is in our times, and was curious to get perspective on why. Enter ‘Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,’ a documentary that originally aired on HBO about a year ago.

Because of his notoriety, I expected this documentary to be truly illuminating, and was disappointed that it really only told part of the story - it seemed like they were assuming we already knew the rest. This is a man whose wife was 8 months pregnant when she was murdered by members of the Charles Manson cult. While I realize this is probably a well-ingrained piece of knowledge to people who were alive in the 70s, the movie left it up to everyone else to connect the dots to get that piece of information. Glazing over this tragedy, as well as his childhood as a survivor of the Holocaust, and spending very little time on his actual career, the majority of the film was spent on the ins and outs of his trial for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, which, of course, led to him fleeing to France to escape further jail time.

The movie was distractingly heavy-handed, trying to tell viewers what happened during the trial to lead to his fleeing. (Hint: it was the judges’ fault). Outside of Michael Moore’s more recent work, this isn’t what I expect from documentaries. (Also distracting, Polanski’s creepy British friend who spends all his time trying to convince everyone what a nice guy Polanski really is, with a giant smile on his face while he talks about rape and murder.). The music was strange and overdramatic, as were the clips from Polanski’s films they used in an attempt to draw parallels to his life.

In conclusion, we watched the movie in 2 parts and I learned more about Roman Polanski from my time on Wikipedia in between these two viewings, than I did during the actual film.

6 Twix bars!