If it’s weird to you that every filmmaker you’ve ever liked is taking Roman Polanski’s side in the curent controversy, perhaps it’s because you don’t know Polanski like we know Polanski.
Sure, it seems obvious: Polanski raped a kid, Polanski fled the country, Polanski should pay for his crime. But if all that were true, why would the world’s most prominent filmmakers and artists sign a petition demanding his release? I’m not just talking cranks like Pedro Almodovar. Good, stand-up Americans like Wes Anderson and Alexander Payne are demanding that justice be served by forgetting about all this rape business. And if you knew Roman Polanski like we know Roman Polanski, you would surely understand how artistically narrow-minded it is to treat him like a rapist just because he raped someone.
Maybe you’ve been reading The Smoking Gun, which has posted the details of the 1977 rape — and, yes, on the Internet those details sure seem graphic. But you have to understand: There was no Internet back then!
Use your sense memory, people. It was a different time — the heady days of 1970s Hollywood — and, as the great Stanislavski said in his seminal work, “Building a Character,” there is truth-truth and then there is artistic-truth. Rape is life!
Maybe you don’t know that Roman Polanski is a Holocaust survivor. And that his wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson family. If you knew that, you would probably feel bad for him, and forgive him for raping a child. Why DO bad things happen to good people? It’s weird.
Maybe you don’t know that Roman Polanski is not just a filmmaker, but a really really good filmmaker. And certainly you don’t know that he was on his way to a film festival when apprehended. And you must not know that film festivals are historically sacred ground, havens of pure cinema where people buy and sell everything but their souls remain intact.
Maybe you aren’t aware — and really, thanks to author Robert Harris for pointing this out in today’s New York Times –that “Mr. Polanski’s own young children, to whom he is a doting father, want him home. ” If you had known that, surely you would have forgiven him by now. If he’s not around to raise his kids, who would prevent them from getting raped by good people?
Maybe you don’t know that Roman has suffered enough. It’s actually a fact! “The real tragedy,” confirms Patrick Goldstein in the L.A. Times, “is that he will always, till his death, be snubbed and stalked and confronted by people who think the price he has already paid isn’t enough.” That is a tragedy. With all that’s been going on, I really have a newfound respect for rapists that get snubbed. That Oscar Roman got was really fucking confrontational. Asshole statue.
Maybe you don’t know that there is a movie that proves everything! Not really about whether or not Roman raped that kid — because he did so that’s not an open question — but about how the judge was whack. When you really think about it, it was that judge that pushed Roman over the edge into raping that kid. Does that timeline add up? Julian Schnabel says yes so believe it.
Maybe you don’t know that Roman is old. Like, too old to rape more girls. It’s weird how criminals get older and then turn nice, cause old people are generally really nice I’ve found. Did you see The Bucket List?
Related: “Amid all the noise,” writes Movieline’s Stu Van Airsdale, “no one has yet to really mention the most unthinkable consequence overshadowing all of this: that Polanski, 76, could die in jail, either fighting his extradition in Switzerland or withering in a cell in Los Angeles. Surely that couldn’t be justice, could it?” Surely not! Justice would have been for Roman to have served his time back in the day, which is why he fled. Aha!
Maybe you don’t know that there is this question of Why Now? Why, after all these years, was Roman Polanski apprehended now? Glenn Beck has some theories on this, involving the Swiss and NBC and Czar Cass Sunstein, that will blow your mind.
And finally, maybe you aren’t aware that the “victim” Samantha Geimer is totally over it. She is! So why are you still holding a grudge? Oprah says that in order to live your best life, you have to forgive others for rape. I really believe that. Rapist, heal thyself.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 30, 2009