Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski

Producer, director
Survivor means many things in Hollywood. When an actor or director displays an affinity for riding out extreme highs and lows of celebrity and wealth, they are often called survivors. Of course, "Survivor" is also a reality TV show. Roman Polanski is also a survivor, but he earned the title before he even made it to Hollywood.Polanski was born in Paris to a Polish Jew and a Russian immigrant on August 18th, 1933, but only spent his first three years in France. In 1936 the family moved back to Krakow, Poland. Roman was just six when Poland fell to Germany and seven when the Nazi's walled off his neighborhood, turning it into Krakow's Jewish ghetto. Before Roman's mother and father were sent to the concentration camp, Roman's father arranged for his son's escape from the ghetto with the help of some kind Catholic families.Roman slept in the barns of these strangers and found refuge wherever he could. German soldiers would shoot at him for the enjoyment of watching him run away. Movie houses became a favorite haunt and it was during this time that he developed his deep love for the cinema. Although he would survive the war he did sustain a serious injury in an explosion. His mother would not be so lucky. She died in the concentration camp.At the end of the war Roman was reunited with his father, but their domestic life would not be tranquil. Roman suffered abuse at the hands of his father and he came to resent his stepmother. While inquiring about a bike he had seen advertised for sale, Roman was nearly the victim of a serial killer. He escaped and the murderer was arrested.In the late Forties his father enrolled him in a technical school in the forties, but was less than thrilled when Roman began to take classes in film. He also made several theatrical and film appearances before becoming one of six students to be accepted into the highly respected Lodz Film school. In 1962 Polanski would direct his first feature film, Noz w Wodzie (Knife in the Water). The film, a psychological drama set on a sailboat, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film, but it would be the last that Polanski would make in Poland. He was bound for bigger waters.A serious car accident laid him up in the hospital for a long period of time, but once he was discharged, Polanski moved to England to make another psychological thriller Repulsion in 1965. It was a financial disappointment, but proved to be a highly influential film laying the groundwork for many other directors in the genre.Polanski would make his biggest splash in Hollywood. His debut was the horror classic, Rosemary's Baby (1968). The offbeat occult thriller about a woman carrying Satan's spawn resonated with audiences and paved the way for later paranormal blockbusters like The Omen and The Exorcist.The time after Rosemary's Baby should have been joyous for Polanski, but any happiness he could have gained at the film's breakout success was dashed with the brutal murder of his wife, actress Sharon Tate. The brutal attack, carried out by the Manson Family, captivated the nation and spawned a media circus. The graphic violence of Polanski's next film, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth (1971) only hints at the pain that he must have known.In 1974 Roman Polanski breathed new life into the long stagnant film noir genre with Chinatown. Even by Polanski standards, it was a dark vision featuring violence, corruption, incest, and a decidedly non-Hollywood ending. Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway turned in sizzling performances. Polanski had another hit on his hands, but it would be his last in Hollywood.Polanski's next Hollywood project was cut short when charges were filed against him for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He fled the country to avoid facing the charges and took up residence in France. In France Polanski directed Tess (1979) and became lovers with the film's 17-year old star, Nastassja Kinski. The film, a three-hour long adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" was another financial and critical success.Tess marked the end of an era for Polanski. The eighties and nineties were not kind. His output sputtered and those films that he did bring to the screen failed to find either audiences or acclaim. His career seemed to be in steady decline until 2002. He would return to his roots with The Pianist. The movie, which tells the story of a talented Jewish Pianist during the time of Germany's occupation of Warsaw, also marked a return to the director's old form. For one film at least, he was the same director who had made so many great films in the sixties and seventies. Moviegoers can only hope that it marks the beginning of a new run for the man who survived Hollywood and so much more.Source:
Some experience is helpful. "The Pianist" was a film that I could make with my eyes closed because I had lived it and everything was still alive in me.More Roman Polanski quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
To the audience it doesn't really matter how much the director struggled with an actor. It's the result that counts.More Roman Polanski quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I know that atmosphere of the Parisian apartment building, with the twin menaces of the concierge on the ground floor and the landlord upstairs.More Roman Polanski quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
the worst thing ever written about me. It is obvious that itís not true. I donít think you could find a man who could behave in such a way. But I think it was particularly hurtful as it dishonors my memory of Sharon.More Roman Polanski quotes [09/03/2007 12:09:00]
If you have a great passion it seems that the logical thing is to see the fruit of it, and the fruit are children.More Roman Polanski quotes [01/01/2000 12:01:00]

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