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The Arrest of Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland and will reportedly be flown to Los Angeles to stand trial after 35 years. This is as it should be — alas. But it didn’t have to go down this way. The excellent documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired did not minimize the horrific nature of the crime, but also made a good case against the late judge who held up a plea agreement between Polanski and the prosecutor. Now, there will be a lot of grandstanding by idiots, who will say that Polanski is worse than the likes of Peter Braunstein and should be thrown in prison for the remainder of his life.

I welcome your thoughts in e-mails (and will print the best), but have little to add to the conclusion of my review of The Pianist in Slate:

I think it's also important to add that this great and moral movie — the best of 2002, and one of the most indelible Holocaust films ever made — is the work of a sex criminal, a man who fled this country after drugging and molesting a teenage girl in the mid-'70s. I frankly don't know how to reconcile my feelings about The Pianist with my feelings about Polanski. What I do know is that he lost two families — with sickening brutality — in a single lifetime, and that he has been through a hell that few of us can even imagine. Perhaps returning to his native Poland for the first time in 40 years — and to the Holocaust — has given him a new moral clarity. Perhaps it is time for this magnificent artist and monstrously conflicted human being to return to the United States and make amends.

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