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on March 26, 2011
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. But one problem I had with the documentary is that it's not either or -- it's not that he is wanted in America and desired in Europe where he has won awards, so the Americans are wrong and prudish. It's that he has complex human traits that make him phenomenal in some respects and ugly in others.
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on August 7, 2015
The presentation was excellent; the story, of course, is a terrible one. It makes one wonder if our justice system could use some cleaning as the judge in this case should have been disciplined. The attorneys (for each side) were professional in every way. I remember when this case was playing out (way back when), but didn't pay enough attention to it at the time. An amazing story and well worth the time spent to watch it. Well done!
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on November 22, 2015
A mostly fair look at the famous Roman Polanski under-aged sex scandal. While the documentary does paint Roman in a sympathetic light due his history it also places a lot of the blame on the press and a celebrity obsessed judge. The victim in the case has clearly put the actual incident with Roman behind her but still feels victimized by the press and the crappy way the judge and the judicial system handled the case.
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on August 25, 2014
Seemed a thorough accumulation of facts. I came away with questions about how the charges initially came out. Was it just after the act itself while Polanski and the girl were still in Jack Nicholson's home or did the girl wait until she got home and told her mother. That is a gray area for me. It looked like there were two different stories being told from the transcript questions at the beginning of the film about what actually took place. My question, "Was this simply revenge on a talented director?"
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on November 2, 2008
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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on December 22, 2014
From the severe trauma he went through with the horrific murder of his wife and child to be, not to mention how he lost his mother to the Nazis, Roman Polanski clearly had significant emotional disorders which would and do cause mental disorders- the correlation between the emotional and the mental seem to be overlooked. The physical, emotional and mental are all connected and interwoven and cannot be separated. Certain drugs are effective in treating severe emotional problems which are lodged in the brain and have to be prescribed. This isn't just depression, this takes a strong narcotic given in daily moderate doses. One drug in particular is not used nearly enough - only for the physical when in fact it would work wonders for the emotional and mental as well. That put together with yoga, meditation and prayer would be a sure cure.
Roman Polanski was clearly a disturbed man whose life would probably have been destroyed in a lengthy prison system as countless others are. Or maybe he would have destroyed himself with the worst drugs out there- alcohol and cocaine.
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on May 8, 2013
It is difficult to decide how one should judge Roman Polanski and his mistakes. After viewing this documentary I felt both sorry for him and discusted by his criminal behavior in the 1970s. However it is very hard to even begin to know what it must have been like to be at the center of media attention like he was by the mid 1970s. Mr. Polanski was at the top of his game even before this in the late 1960s, his story would have been seen as one of extraordinary inspiration. A young man living with the reality that the holocaust took his own parents from him, he marched on with incredible courage and did some remarkable things in his life. He had established himself as a Hollywood icon who was respected by so many. And when things couldnt have been better his entire life came crashing down with the now infamous and terrible murder of his wife by Charles Manson and his followers. Certainly the scars sustained from such a heartbreaking incident might very well never heal. The damage that such an event might have afflicted to his state of mind might have easily effected his judgement, and could have been the catalyst that drove him to behave so crudely by taking advantage of an innocent minor. Sure Mr. Polanski made some serious mistakes in his life, but his accomplishments some how seem to overshadow his weaknesses. Those in the film and music industries who know and love him often paint a picture of Mr. Polanski as a kind and gentle man with a big heart. None the less, Be it the story of the terrible tragedy of his life, or of his remarkable accomplishments, or the crimes he was accused of, one thing is for certain- I found this documentary totally compelling and completely enjoyable.
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on February 14, 2010
Excellent documentary, well researched, giving an unbiased and full account of the Polanski case. Excellent testimony of his lawyer who plainly told him that he could not expect a fair treatment from judge Rittenband.
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on January 17, 2013
This documentary examines celebrated film director and jet-setter Roman Polanski's arrest and legal troubles in connection with the statutory rape of a thirteen-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski served forty-two days in jail before fleeing the U.S. just prior to sentencing. Society generally has little sympathy for sex offenders but Polanski's celebrity and tragic personal misfortunes (his parents were victims of the Holocaust and his pregnant wife Sharon Tate was slain by the Manson Family) seem to have softened the criticism of some.

Director Marina Zenovich does a good job presenting the sordid tale with news clips along with interviews of the lawyers involved and Polanski's friends and associates. The film stresses that the judge overseeing the case violated legal protocol and possibly presents him as more of a villain than Polanski.

Polanski's victim, Samantha Gailey Geimer, participates in this 2008 documentary and is currently (2013) writing a memoir detailing the incident. The viewer will wonder how Samantha's mother, actress Susan Gailey, allowed her thirteen-year-old daughter to participate in a "photoshoot" with Polanski following the director's highly publicized relationship with fifteen-year-old actress, Nastassja Kinski.

Postscript - 9/27/13: In her 2013 memoir, The Girl, Geimer details the circumstances which led to her rape. She makes it a point to exonerate her mother of any responsibility.
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on June 30, 2013
What would happen if Roman Polanski drugged and had sex with a 13-year old girl in America today, with cable television and the Internet magnifying all things salacious, real or imagined, instead of the year it happened, 1977? Nonetheless, the absorbing 2008 documentary ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED reminds us that the famous film director had all but beaten the rap until public outrage made the judge on the case think again, which caused Polanski to flee America for France, never to return.

I tip my hat to director Marina Zenovich, who steers ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED in such a way that you can't tell how she feels about Polanski's behavior. As if attempting to give Polanski the fair trial he never had, Zenovich allows everyone involved to have their say and leaves it to the viewer to make up his or her mind, if he or she can. Sure, it's still a crime even if you don't realize you're committing a crime. But if the judge agrees to a psychiatrist's recommendation of probation only to change his mind and throw the book at you because of outside pressures, is that justice?
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