Sunday, September 27, 2009

Aren't the Swiss supposed to be neutral?

I'm kind of ticked off right now. Yesterday, Roman Polanski was arrested upon his arrival in Zurich. His intention was to attend the Zurich Film Festival and receive a lifetime achievement award. Unfortunately, that's now impossible.

Some of you might not know who Polanski is by name. If that's the case, I'm sure you're familiar with his films. They speak for themselves. Chinatown. Rosemary's Baby. The Pianist. Ironically, I watched his version of Macbeth only yesterday. You can imagine my surprise to wake up this morning and see what had transpired.

Polanski's 32 year exile from the United States had evolved into one of quiet predictability. After fleeing the country after his carefully negotiated plea bargain was reneged upon, he's spent most of his time in France. Up to this point, he's been especially careful to avoid traveling to countries that would extradite him back to the United States.

I'm not in any way dismissing his crime. What he did was wrong. I doubt that anyone will disagree with me on that front. However, the trial was conducted under somewhat dubious circumstances, and the fairness of that trial has, particularly in recent years, been severely called into question. Polanski has requested to have the case dismissed and what's more, his accuser has publicly stated that it is her desire that the case against him be dismissed.

Apparently, both the Polish and French governments are all over this already and are going to do everything that they can to keep him from being extradited to the United States. Under Swiss law, Polanski has the right to contest his imprisonment and any decision related to his extradition in a court of law. This looks to be a long, lengthy process by any stretch of the imagination.

Maybe this is just me and perhaps I'm colored by the fact that I have a tremendous amount of respect for his work, but what will be accomplished by imprisoning a 76 year old man for a crime he committed 32 years ago that even his accuser doesn't think he ought to be locked up for?


Adam Zanzie said...

Polanski undoubtedly committed a horrendous crime, but I agree that he's just about suffered punishment enough. It's clear that he's never going to do another thing like that again. And I can't help it: I feel sorry for him, with his mother being gassed at Auschwitz, with Sharon Tate being chopped up by the Manson goons, it's only natural that he would be driven to drugs and alcohol and whatever made him fornicate an underage girl. Obviously he has a lot to answer for, but like you, I suppose my appreciation for the man's work blurs my common sense a little. It's hard.

It's too much to ask for, but if Polanski does get deported to the U.S., I'm hoping that President Obama will consider pardoning him. Fingers crossed.

Btw, Macbeth is weird. I like it, but I don't know if it's a great film. My first impression was that Jon Finch was miscast in the lead role, but then again he always gives hammy performances- from Hitchcock's Frenzy to Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. ("That is BLASPHEMY!")

Megan said...

You know my background Adam so you'll understand this from me.

The man comitted a crime. A crime that deserves punishment and one that he fled from. He deserves to be punished and if he wasn't a director whose work you liked you'd think the same thing.

Jonathon said...

1) he was a pedophile! 2) he was a coward and ran from his crime. 3)if he was innocent then why run? running proves guilt. 4) why in the world did he win an oscar? it shows that hollywood supports perverts and pedophiles. Not exactly who should be celebrated. 5) switzerland was not neutural - they took bribes. 6) you cannot separate the man and his "art" aka "pedophile propaganda"... 7) the fact they arrested him while at an awards show makes it all the better. He should be as embarassed, humiliated and feel as bad as the girl he raped and if it was possible he should feel worse...

Jonathon said...

p.s. 8) how about we rape him and see how he likes them apples?

Adam said...

I will admit that I am finding it difficult to try to respond. I have turned over various beginnings to this in my mind and have arrived, finally, at this.

Adam, I actually didn't think that Finch was miscast in Macbeth. I thought he did very well. I liked the film, but there were points where Shakespeare's dialogue lost me a little bit. This tends to happen when I'm reading/watching something of his. I have a hard time figuring out what the characters are actually saying, despite his clear mastery of the language.

Megan, I can see what you're saying. I still think what I thought before, and I tried to be open by acknowledging the sort of tricky thought process that has accompanied my contemplation of this whole thing.

Jonathon, I don't want to debate you point by point because that would take a very long, and I know that there might not be any end to certain facets of the discussion. However, there are a couple of points that I would like to go into.

On Point #4. He won an Oscar because of his work. He did not win an Oscar because of his past transgressions. He won because of the film that he made was deemed to have been excellent and because his involvement in that film was deemed to have been integral to its success. Additionally, the year he won was a year that many felt the award would go to Martin Scorsese for Gangs of New York and a year that the DGA award (a usual dead-on indicator for the Academy's choice) had gone to Rob Marshall for Chicago. It does not, in any way, prove that Hollywood "supports pedophiles and perverts," as you said. Per your probable definition of a "pervert," I'd like to remind you that Brokeback Mountain, a controversial film, lost the Academy Award for Best Picture, even after winning just about every other like award. Wouldn't a Hollywood that supports what you consider to be "perverted" have rushed to give that film its highest award?

On Point #6. I fully and completely disagree that you cannot separate an individual's work from their personal life. Have you ever seen Triumph of the Will? The message of Leni Riefenstahl's film is most certainly wrong, but I challenge you to tell me exactly how she did not make a technically dazzling film.

On Point #8. If I have to tell you what is wrong with this, then I truly don't know what else to say.

Love and respect to all of you. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Chris W said...

As much as I enjoy doing so I'm not going to stir the pot any further, instead I'll just say one thing. Honestly doesn't anyone else kind of find this funny? I mean the dude must have had a total lapse of judgement. The guy has been running for this for years and he doesn't think anything might happen if he steps into a country with extradition laws that might get him into trouble? I don't know why but I find that kind of funny just because it was a pretty bone-headed move on his part.

Chris W said...

By the by I feel the need to give Entertainment Weekly some props. Surprisingly they full on called out Roman Polanski in this weeks issue. In an article the they take anyone supporting him to task pointing out that at the end of the day no matter how you look at it the guy is a convicted felon and rapist and they don't mince words about it. I thought that was sort of interesting coming from an entertaiment magazine whre they sometimes choose to overlooks such things.

Anonymous said...

Obama pardon will never happen, he's too Clintonian to do it.

I agree, his life is almost over and the victim has already forgiven him (even if she was paid off) plus his facilities probably don't even work anymore so its not like they have to worry about a repeat offense.

Holocaust survivor, Victim of Charles Manson, and convicted child rapist. He's almost like a Forrest Gump of the 20th century.