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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Life Characterized by Accomplishments and Extremes., June 7, 2008
When Roman Polanski wrote this autobiography, he was still under a pall of pessimism following the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, 15 years earlier. I imagine that a lot has changed in his life since 1984, considering his remarriage and new family. But "Roman by Polanski" is a very readable, articulate, and seemingly candid account of Polanski's childhood in German-occupied Poland, his youth under communism, his professional struggles and emergence as a coveted talent in the 1960s, when he took up a bohemian lifestyle in Hollywood and London. That was shattered, of course, by the murder of 5 people, including his wife, as his L.A. home by the Manson "Family" in August 1969, an event which is often cited as the end of the freewheeling '60s. Polanski later fled the United States over sentencing irregularities in a statutory rape case, and he offers his view of that situation as well.

Polanski recounts the making of his films in varying degrees of detail, from his student productions in Poland through "Tess". At the time he wrote this book, he was burned out on filmmaking and had returned to the stage to play the part of Mozart in Peter Schaffer's play "Amadeus". Polanski lays out the events of his personal and professional life plainly. He has had an interesting life, accentuated by the stark contrasts between communism and capitalism, poverty and wealth, freedom and persecution. Readers may be more curious about Polanski's character, though. He relished his lifestyle, was accused of rape, and so became the libertine that everyone loves to bash. His driving ambition in everything he attempts and his social values, from his reckless generosity to his many lovers, come across as having shaped his life. And they gave him many interesting stories to tell.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paradoxical Roman - by Polanski, March 15, 2001
The myriad and often contradictory superlatives that define Roman Polanski are evident in his 1984 autobiography. A man of immense dichotomy: by turns exquisitely sensitive and dazzlingly brilliant yet capable of staggering insensitivity and cruelty; a singularly gifted filmmaker who has sometimes betrayed that talent completely; a man blessed with the reciprocal love and devotion of three of the world's most beautiful women (most notably Sharon Tate) and yet easily capable of sexist and loutish behavior, etc. The parade of paradoxes attendant to Polanski's life make for fascinating reading, evoke extremes of admiration and disdain on the part of the reader, and ultimately remind us that the author, like life itself, is not easily defined nor pigeonholed by a pool of platitudes.
As this tome lacks the direct input of anyone other than Polanski himself, much of the director's foibles and missteps are congealed in the inevitable patina of celebrity and privilege. But that's not the whole story - by far. Polanski's appalling childhood and the Manson murders of 1969 (Polanski's pregnant wife and unborn child were murdered by disciples of the would-be messiah) undoubtedly contributed to the self-destruction that is too frequently an underlying theme in his life.
The passages in which the author pays noble tribute to Tate provide a touching - and fitting - legacy to the lovely actress whose abundant goodness - her superior heart and her abiding selflessness - are manifest in Polanski's memories. It is, ultimately, this aspect of the book that remain in the reader's memory - long after the last page has been turned. In Polanski's relationship with his late wife - we are allowed to observe the director's vulnerability, tenderness and love - qualities that are all too frequently sublimated in his own overweening arrogance, pride and machismo.
"Roman by Polanski" is a satisfying and compelling read for those of us who, though incensed by some of the director's sophomoric actions, still find a commonality with the chaotic and passionate aspects of his personality. For this reason, the loss of his filmmaking genius in America is very unfortunate indeed.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most impressive books ever read, December 30, 2004
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This review is from: Roman (Hardcover)
I lost my copy of this book years ago and am so glad to have it back. Anyone who admires Polanski's work will love this book. Anyone who questions Polanski's love of life, Sharon, and the World he lives in should read this book. You will understand him in a whole new light. He's amazing. Read this before any other about him. Please!!!!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a life changer, April 9, 2012
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This review is from: Roman (Hardcover)
I review a book in terms of how it affected me. I have no interest in recapping the book or doing a book report as a 'review'. Who doesnt know the ins and outs of the Manson murders and the involvement of Polanski? I couldnt put it down. I felt an intimate connection to the story because of the murders and Helter Skelter and that time standing still sensation of when you first heard about it. What I learned about him touched me so deeply I can remember almost everything about his life all these many years later. Because of this book and this book alone I have come to understand and believe that there are certain individuals that through no fault of their own are so damaged they can never truly park in a legal space or color within the lines and yet shimmering aspect of their mind heart and soul remain and they need to be embraced for the good of mankind not cast into a pit because of acts and events beyond one's control. I now call the Polanskis of the world "rubber room types' ...where they should be housed in gracious and lovely surroundings enabling them to produce their works and live out their sad devastated lives with as much compassion as society can afford. This man never should have been punished for anything. This was a great lesson to learn. Some people are beyond punishing. They have come to use brimming with the worst horrors and punishment the world can mete out and they are walking among us and we must accept this not condemn them for our good and the good of the world. People who expect anything rational from a human who has endured what he has endured even before the butchering of his wife and child are the ones who need punishment. If Polanski has found any happiness or joy in this life it is the greatest example of true redemption anyone can ever hear. I only wish him the best.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a sinner and a genius ..., August 16, 2005
This review is from: Roman (Hardcover)
Roman Polanski, born on august 18, 1933, has written a fascinating autobiography. He is a sinner and a genius, a chaotic man and a passionate, he is a machismo and a vulnerable human being, he overcame the WWII, the Polish ghettos and the Holocaust as a resilient child and he lost his wife Sharon Tate and an unborn child in 1969 by the Manson Group massacre, and on the other hand he overcame (as an adult) a special pattern of machismo-self-destruction (with 13 year old girl accusing him of sexual contact). He had lived a lousy life in Nazi-surpressed Polish ghettos and he had lived with too much pride and arrogance in Hollywood, he was arrested in the United States and nevertheless now he releases movies in Paris (presently married with French actress Emmanuelle Seigner). He is a gifted filmmaker and indeed: a writer, better than any crime-author I know; his book, published in 1984, is not a larmoyant, self-pitiful autobiography alike 1001 others - it is an absorbing story about a personality-mixture-hybrid of a Robin Hood mixed with Mac Beth, an Idi Amin mixed with a Mother Theresa, it is the story of "Roman" P., who started his life 1933 in Paris as "Raymond" P.; the first sentence of his autobiography: "For as far back as I can remember, the line between fantasy and reality has been hopelessly blurred." That became his helping trick to survive some struggles and tragedies, downfalls and comebacks ...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Jewish Boy in German-Occupied Poland and a Jewish Teenager in Early-Communist-Ruled Poland, October 23, 2009
Instead of repeating other reviewers, and dwelling on Polanski's (Liebling's) accomplishments and celebrity status, I limit my review to Polanski's experiences in Poland.

Polanski's childhood was spend near Krakow (Cracow). He avoided the Nazis by staying at the village of Wysoka with the Buchala family (pp. 39-46), where he did farm chores. Apart from being temporarily moved to another village to avoid a German census, and being shot at by a German for an unknown reason (p. 44), his stay was uneventful. He did not feel the need to hide in order to avoid getting denounced as a Jew. To the contrary: He freely played with the gentile boys in the village. (p. 43). When he revisited Poland in the early 1980's, he went to see the Buchalas, and learned from others that they were no longer alive.

The entering Red Army stole from the Poles. (p. 48). The privations of post-war Poles were obvious. Poles engaged in scavenging (p. 49) and, lacking enough clothes, had to wear discarded German uniforms for years. (p. 49). [Although Polanski doesn't develop this further, the circumstances described help illuminate Poles' looting of the places of the murders of Jews for valuables.] He also writes: "Because of the housing shortage, Mrs. Winowski was compelled to take lodgers." [Although Polanski doesn't mention postwar killings, the poverty and housing shortage help the reader understand why some Poles weren't exactly thrilled when Jewish survivors showed up and reclaimed their properties, and why, on rare occasions (600 out of 300,000 surviving Jews), Poles killed them. But note that, despite the extreme circumstances, the vast majority of Poles relinquished the properties without incident.]

While Polanski was a teenager and young adult, the Soviet Communist puppet state was tightening its grip upon Poland's citizens. Polanski reported that people found an outlet for their individualism in such things as athletics (p. 83) and jazz (p. 118). When he revisited Krakow in 1976, he observed firsthand how the priceless architecture of the city had been damaged by the air pollution emanating from the factories in nearby Nowa Huta. (p. 380).
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Polanski is a genius., May 4, 2000
Polanski has led one of the most interesting lives of anyone in the film industry, and it was great to read about his many misadventures, misfortunes, and mistakes, as viewed from the director's perspective. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes the Polanski's films or has been intrigued by his sensationalized history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Polanski 's Side of the Tate LaBianca Murders, August 29, 2010
By 
James J. Varela (Sarasota, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Roman (Hardcover)
This book is important as it is Polanski on record for his views of the Tate- LaBianca murders and what he feels was the tabloid terror that ensued. He puts to bed the so many myths about the murder victims. Also contains his side of his arrest on the 1978 sex with a minor charges that forced him to flee the United States. This book is a good historical work on his career and personal life, Polanski does not skim over the 1978 unlawful sex with a minor charges he is honest and direct with his view of events. This book was written in 1982 when Polanski's lawyers were trying to get him back the U.S. and have the sex charges dropped to time served so he could resume his career in Hollywood.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No matter what you think of him personally, the book is good, October 15, 2010
This review is from: Roman (Hardcover)
Roman can really write, and the book is fascinating. It also presents a sympathetic case for him, when you see all that he has been through. If you really are opposed to him, the book may not be for you, but the stories he tells are vivid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Amazing, October 31, 2013
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This review is from: Roman (Hardcover)
I read this book when it first came out and I was probably considered too young to really get it, but, as an even younger girl I had watched Chinatown and became fascinated by the man whose creative vision so moved me at such a young age. I loved this book - each chapter takes you into a different phase of Roman's life, and it has not been an easy life by any means! True, some of the drama and strife were self-created, but, having read about his childhood and the years that came after, it would be a very hard heart indeed who did not have some level of compassion and understanding of the artist and man. The chapters with Sharon Tate are truly heartbreaking and his recounting of the infamous sexual assault that led to his exile from Hollywood are dealt with fairly openly and, if not, completely honestly, then from a more understandable perspective than has been afforded to those events since. A must-read for fans and anyone interested in a life lived at full speed.
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Roman
Roman by Roman Polanski (Hardcover - Jan. 1984)
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