Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired 2008 UNRATED

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(23) IMDb 7.3/10
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One of the most controversial and brilliant directors, Roman Polanski has long been a subject of fascination for his films (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist) and his personal life.

Pedro Almodóvar, Istvan Bajzat
1 hour 40 minutes

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

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3.8 out of 5 stars

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sigrid Macdonald on March 26, 2011
Format: DVD
This documentary by Steven Soderbergh was fascinating and I learned quite a bit about Roman Polanski that I never knew because I hadn't followed his case that closely. I didn't know he was a Holocaust survivor and had lost his parents to the camps. I did know that his wife Sharon Tate was brutally murdered by the freakish Manson clan. And I imagine that all those hideous and traumatic incidents left a terrible and indelible mark on his psyche. But does this somehow justify drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl?

The production is far too sympathetic toward Polanski. Yes, it appears he had a judge who was obsessed with celebrities and his own fame and publicity. Yes, it looks as though his sentence was unfair, but even the original proposal to incarcerate Polanski for 90 days for a diagnostic was absurd. 90 days for taking a pubescent girl and giving her Quaaludes and sodomizing her? Please? What century are we living in?

Although the girl who was molested appeared on the show and spoke as an adult, I got the distinct impression that the message was "poor Roman", not "poor 13-year-old girl." At one point her prior sexual history was even mentioned -- disgraceful -- yet she clearly said that she had said *no* to him. Even if she had said *yes* and begged him to have sex with her, at 13, she didn't have the mental or legal ability to give consent.

The whole situation is very sad. If only Polanski had served out his time properly in the US, some of this would be behind him and perhaps he could have continued to be a wonderful director. People are complicated. Just because he committed a heinous act doesn't mean that he doesn't have redeeming qualities. He is brilliant and the French realize this.
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23 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Clare Quilty on November 2, 2008
Format: DVD
This is a crisp, well-structured documentary which brings together most of the principal facts and figures in Polanski's 1977-1978 unlawful sexual intercourse trial.

Two are missing from the scene -- Polanski himself and Judge Laurence Rittenband, who presided over the case -- and they're the most important and, among followers of the situation, the most divisive.

The filmmakers have a clear respect for Polanski the artist, but they make two points painfully clear: That, in 1977, he gave a 13-year-old girl Quaaludes and champagne before having sex with her; and that the case was poorly (in some cases illegally) handled by Rittenband, who was eventually removed from the case.

Rittenband is dead and Polanski fled to France rather than face his judge's increasingly sketchy demands but most of the principals are here, particularly defense attorney Douglas Dalton, former assistant D.A. Roger Gunson and the victim herself, Samantha Geimer, who's now in her mid-40s, a mother of three children and seems ready to put the whole matter to rest.

The account is fascinating, and artfully punctuated by scenes from Polanski's films, particularly those he appeared in including "Chinatown," "The Tenant" and "The Fat and the Lean," which was made a decade-and-a-half before the trouble but which features Polanski dancing on cue to a drum beaten by a man who, ironically, bears no small resemblance to Rittenband himself.

I never like to assume that I'm an expert on a situation simply after seeing one documentary about it, but it's a persuasive argument when a Mormon district attorney sides with a sex offender and his defense lawyer against a judge. That's pretty convincing evidence this movie is spouting something close to the truth.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By technoguy on July 21, 2010
Format: DVD
A documentary which reopens the controversial and complex case of director Roman Polanski's public conviction for having unlawful sex with a minor some 30 years ago. The young girl,Samantha Gernier,was 13 at the time.Polanski at the time told her mother he wanted to shoot pictures of her for a French magazine.Her mother allowed Samantha to go off with Polanski to Jack Nicholson's house in Mulholland Drive.Instead,after shooting pictures he gave her champagne and a piece of Quaalude (hypnotic) and he took advantage of her.Because of the drug he sodomised and raped her. "He wouldn't take no for an was scary and very creepy".Samantha and her mother didn't want Polanski to be sentenced.Due to the effect of publicity and the girl's desire for anonymity, charges were later reduced under a plea bargain agreement to a mere `unlawful intercourse with an underage girl'.The judge had turned the case into a circus and reneged on the deal and Polanski, fearing 50 years in jail, fled to France.He had undergone a 42 day psychiatric assessment in custody and was not thought to be a mentally disordered offender.His past experiences,the traumatic loss of his parents under the Nazis and the murder of his wife,even his brilliance as a film director, should not place him above the law,even though he's married with 2 children.Gernier is married with 3 children.

In the film there is an interesting interview over dinner with Clive James.James implies Polanski seems to like surrounding himself with young ladies.Following what has happened to him he should lie low and stay out of site. Polanski disagrees.Polanski says the girl`consented',but James says even if so she was underage.Polanski asks James, almost disappointingly,"is that all you think my life comes to...young ladies"?
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