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It Does Not Matter How Great Your Films Are, You Must Still Face Justice

September 28, 2009


How many Oscar nominations does one need in order to avoid facing justice for having raped a child? Are four nominations and one victory enough? Can artistic achievement absolve one of punishment for a horrible crime? And does the taint of such a dastardly act diminish the value of some of modern cinema’s greatest films?

With the recent arrest of controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski, who fled the U.S. three decades ago after raping a 13-year-old girl whom he plied with champagne and Quaaludes, it’s time to start asking these questions again.  Polanski is currently being detained in Switzerland, arrested on an international warrant released by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Polanski began his film career in Poland, first acquiring fame for his 1962 movie Knife In The Water.  He spent many years in Hollywood making such films as Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and the neo noir classic Chinatown (1974).  After fleeing the country in 1978, he continued to make films, including The Pianist, which won a “Best Film” Oscar in 2002.

Polanski was picked up in Switzerland as he was arriving to accept a lifetime-achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival. His arrest has outraged people all across Europe (including many prominent filmmakers).  French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner released a statement calling the arrest “a bit sinister.”

But what is more sinister — sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, or the arrest of her rapist?

Hollywood and the media are speculating as to why authorities are going after Polanski so many years after his crime. Of course, they cite every reason except for one: he raped a 13-year-old.  They dismiss the case because it was allegedly mishandled by a power-hungry judge.  Even if that is true, didn’t Polanski still rape a minor?

Many call for leniency with Polanski because he is a revered, world-famous artist. But his status as a great artist should not serve as a “get out of jail free” card.

Hollywood has demonstrated its moral bankruptcy with its handling of the Polanski saga. In 2002, Polanski not only won the “Best Film” award for The Pianist, but Harrison Ford accepted it in his honor and then personally flew it to him overseas.

Many of us who love film have a thick distaste for the leftist politics of Hollywood.  But we should not let this get in the way of appreciating our most cherished films.  Raider’s of the Lost Ark will always be one of my favorites, but if Steven Spielberg says something that angers me — such as when he described his visit with Marxist dictator Fidel Castro as “the eight most important hours of my life” — I certainly want him to pay some sort of price in the court of public opinion. But my appreciation of his artistic talent need not go out the window. It’s okay to be critical of the industry and remain a fan of the cinema.

  1. Robert permalink
    September 28, 2009 5:43 pm

    “whom he piled [plied?] with champagne…”

    • September 28, 2009 5:53 pm

      Corrected. Thanks.

  2. September 28, 2009 6:02 pm

    If only film directors didn’t have to take those stupid vows of celibacy and were allowed to get married oh wait

  3. Paul Cooper permalink
    September 28, 2009 8:43 pm

    Even Joy Behar thinks this guy should be locked up. One day after my Behar attack, I’m now in agreement with her:)

  4. Cas Balicki permalink
    September 28, 2009 9:39 pm

    “It is okay to be critical of the industry and remain a fan of the cinema.”

    So just how do these guys, Polanski, Baldwin, and Spielberg, to name but three, get the money to flout the law and preach politics while remaining insulated from any real criticism?

    My guess: Box office receipts. Then again, I’m not a great director so I don’t know for sure about such things as box office or how great a man Castro is. Maybe if I rated an audience with Spielberg I, too, would be enlightened? Alas, my life is all the poorer for not having seen the sun shining out of Fidel’s bowel-less a$$.

  5. Walt permalink
    September 28, 2009 10:41 pm

    Roman also paid an undisclosed amount to his victim, which at least explains part of her present attitude. In addition, the left ususally rages against wealthy individuals who use their influence to avoid justice, but hasn’t Roman Polanski done this? Do you think an autoworker or Hispanic day laborer would have been able to get away with raping a thirteen year old girl? Finally, Roman Polanski had plea bargained his potential sentence down to fraction of what he deserved, but still fled.

  6. Marylou permalink
    September 28, 2009 11:51 pm

    First of all, he didn’t “have sex” with her, at least according to the original court document on Smoking Gun. Her testimony as a child victim of this man was one of sodomy. That after the repeated requests she made to him to back off. Apparently, he solicitously asked her how she would like it.

    Sorry to be so graphic, but I am outraged.

    I have been to too many meetings and groups of people trying to get their lives back together after a damaging incident such as this one WHICH WENT WITHOUT justice. Simple justice. Is that too much to ask?

    I am happy that someone! Thank you!! still seeks justice for this victim. She certainly deserves it, and it would give heart to others who have been through similar troubles.

    Incidentally, whether she received money from him, whether people hear her say the publicity was the worst, can you just imagine being a 13-year-old and having to go through that? Of course, she wants it put in the past!! She’s OK now….because she’s apparently learned that the most powerful thing a victim can do is to FORGIVE their predator, thus releasing themselves from the prison of resentment and a lifetime of toxic bitterness.

    I for one would love to see some kind of justice prevail here. Wonder what will happen.

  7. Eric Kirk permalink
    September 29, 2009 1:09 am

    Probably the only post I’ve read since I’ve come here (about a week ago) which I can agree with.

    The Pianist was an incredible movie though, because it’s an incredible story. I’m glad it won the award because the subject of the film deserves the recognition whether the director does.

  8. Eric Kirk permalink
    September 29, 2009 1:10 am

    I would comment however that I find it interesting when conservatives all of sudden shed their concern for victim’s rights. Do victims only have rights when they want blood?

  9. Black Eagle permalink
    September 29, 2009 1:53 am

    Funny (not) that Poland want’s Polanski treated with greater care, only a short time after they passed laws requiring pedophiles to be chemically castrated. So apparently the films he has made are plenty enough to get him off the hook in both liberal France and conservative Poland. But probably the sordid details about the actual rape, and about the side-deal he made to pay off the girl many years ago (after which, quite coincidentally I’m sure, she publicly stated she no longer holds a grudge) are not being reported in the European press. So America will once again be denounced as a puritanical sex-hating nation, merely because we wish to protect children from pedos — wealthy and popular, or not.

  10. September 29, 2009 3:18 am

    Come to think of it, Charles Manson wrote some pretty good songs oh wait

    • September 29, 2009 7:00 am


  11. Cate permalink
    September 29, 2009 2:41 pm

    I agree with MaryLou. Apart from the heinousness of the crime, if Polanski is not prosecuted it sends a clear message to other perpetrators that it is okay to do something like that if you’re famous and have the money to either pay off the victim or flee the country. We can’t judge the crime by the people involved. We have to judge according to the crime itself.

  12. Karl Stein permalink
    September 29, 2009 5:06 pm

    I am a surgeon. I happened to have visited the emergency room where the supposed victim went and I spoke to the emergency room doctor. He told me that the patient appeared and acted as a very knowledgable adult, and he could not believe her stated age. This was before HIPPA. The mother of the supposed victim took the supposed victim to Polanski for a modeling examination and left them together. Polanski was not invloved with modeling. Polanski had just lost his wife and unborn child in a terrible murder, and had very negative feelings about the US. The murderers are still alive. What really happened was a set-up for a very vulnerable person of fame. In another situation, the mother might be called a pimp. No wonder, he fled after seeing what the US was like. Is this the kind of junk that we have to spend money on, when we do not have enough funds to protect this country against the terrorist. The Swiss look really stupid, and the US is really stupid.

    • Marylou permalink
      September 29, 2009 11:40 pm

      Dear Dr. Stein,
      So because you are a doctor does that mean you can judge whether this perpetrator should be let go? I take great exception to your apparent premise, as in calling her the “supposed” victim. Please skip to my last paragraph if you like, wherein I make a suggestion that could offer you some further information that you may not have.

      Because you had a bird’s eye view, you think you know more than the rest of us? I had a bird’s eye view, too, only it was from the victim’s end, having lived through a perpetration myself as a young female child, and I can tell you that my perpetrator also was a troubled youth, just as Roman Polanski was a troubled person.

      No matter what, it damaged my life. Irrevocably. The incredible powerlessness is the worst. And then not being protected, not receiving justice, as is too often the case. There is an inner message that this is how it is which makes it almost impossible to overcome.

      In Roman’s case, yes, I’ll give you that there was grief, and I believe plenty of the “lighter” party drugs, at least marijuana and alcohol, as a normal every day kind of thing. I mean, Qualudes??! That’s pretty heavy duty… but! It is just not OK to have sex with a young girl, even if her mother did bring her to you. Something would register in a man of 44, unless of course he was too upset or too drunk, stoned or whatever to chalk that up, and voila! The picture of a perpetrator. He doesn’t see her for what and who she is. She is an object to him.
      So it sounds like the mother delivered her adult-appearing daughter for services to Polanski. Therefore Roman would be innocent except for hiring prostitution services.

      Is this what you are saying?

      I do sympathize with Roman. He was undoubtedly clouded with emotion (his wife an unborn baby had just been destroyed in the most hideous and public and unrectified manner imaginable). It was an awful situation for him, I know.
      I further would guess — just my guess after having attended innumerable classes and recovery and counseling sessions to deal with my own perpetration, that RP had been perpetrated himself back in Europe where many seem to think that stuff is just dandy.

      I am sorry you dislike our USA so much. Maybe you should go live in Europe then but of course not Switzerland since you think they are stupid, too.

      I was working on softening my stance here but 1) to me there is no statute of limitations on a sexual crime such as this. In my view, it is tantamount to murder, as it is ruinous to the inner person, and rarely can be resolved and completely overcome. However, it can be done and sometimes great personal victory can be had. And, 2) I heard Roman Polanski’s own statement, played by Sean Hannity today that he didn’t see how anyone had been hurt.

      That shut the case for me…something in the tone of his voice. I see him as a classic predator, complete down to his refusal to submit to a judge and receive his sentence and pay for his wrongdoing. However much he was clouded by grief, personal injury in his own childhood (if indeed that happened) and/or drugs himself, he did FORCE this young girl. I mean, he was drunk maybe, so is that an excuse? Obviously not.

      I would suggest, Dr. Stein, that you read the court document on Smoking Gun. This might inform you of his culpability. She continually refused him and he would not respect that. That’s all. I was trying to work up to even the benefit of the doubt — because in my drinking and drugging years I learned that things can get pretty cloudy, but I think I’m gonna have to stay with No. We need to keep a standard here and protect the truly innocent, the child. Let Mr. Polanski face the judge.

  13. sprinklerman permalink
    October 5, 2009 1:02 pm

    What so many people fail to recognize or mention is that Mr. Polanski didn’t just commit a crime against a victim, he committed a crime against our society. A just society ruled by laws not by men (or women). His crime requires that he pay his debt to society. This payment is prescribed by those laws set by that society. In the US that is done by doing time in a jail or penitentary.

    According to the Grand Jury testimony of the victim, he sodomized and raped a thirteen year old girl. It doesn’t matter how she looked or how she was “presented” to him. She was a child!

    To do this he gave her drugs and alcohol. He began to rape her. He asked her if she was on the pill and when she said no, he asked her when she had her last period. When she said that her last period was about two week ago, he then proceeded to sodomize her. She continued to object to his acts.

    This was a horrible crime. He agreed to a plea of sex with a minor. When it came time to pay the price he chickened out and ran where he knew he couldn’t be made to pay for his crime.

    Time to pay the piper now Mr. Polanski. I don’t care how many awards you have been given or how bad your past was. There are others who have done and experienced as much as you and have not raped and sodomized a thirteen year old girl.

    Dr. Stein, there is no excuse for what that man did to this young girl.


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