For the first time in 33 years, Roman Polanski has released a statement (a 908-word one, at that) regarding his unresolved child sex case.
In the document, Polanski essentially begs Swiss officials not to extradite him back to the US, where he would finally face the charges brought against him in 1977 for raping then-13 year old Samantha Geimer. He argues that he has done his time already (42 days in a Chino state prison), that the victim does not want the case reopened (which is true), and that the request for extradition is “founded upon a lie.” He also blames the HBO documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, for drawing attention to his dormant case.
Polanski fled the US in 1977 and has been living in France for the past three decades. His quiet life away from US law enforcement was disrupted when he was taken into custody at the Zurich Film Festival in Switzerland (where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award) in September of last year.
Since that time, he has served 15 weeks in a Swiss jail and 4 months of house arrest at his home in Switzerland. His statement is a response to the impending decision by Swiss authorities on whether or not to extradite him back to Los Angeles.
It’s hard to share an opinion on this case without ruffling a few feathers. Some say that Polanski should be left alone, that he’s suffered enough already. Others say that he should be punished to the full extent of the law and that they will never see one of his films again.
For me, the most offensive thing about the case is Polanski’s behavior. He acts as though he has done nothing wrong, that the punishment he has received so far is nothing but an inconvenience, that everyone should just get off his back. He may be 30 years and a few thousand miles away from the case, but it doesn’t change the fact that he still raped a child, which is one of the WORST things you can do to another human being. The fact that he shows no remorse and refuses to acknowledge that he even broke the law is downright arrogant.
That being said, I will continue to see Polanski’s films as they are released. Criminal or not, Polanski is one of the greatest directors ever put behind a camera, and his work has only enriched my understanding of the art. We can acknowledge his contributions without accepting Roman Polanski, the man who raped a child and ran away from the law.
Many have said that Polanski’s recent film, The Ghost Writer (which Jeremy reviewed in an earlier post), is one of his best yet. I would hate to see his career end at a time when he is reaching new heights (is that even possible?).
If I ever meet him in a bar, though, I’ll be sure to throw a drink in his face.