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Spotty New York Film Festival Blogging: Lars von Trier’s Daft Antichrist

The Arrest of Roman Polanski

  • 9/27/09 at 2:20 PM

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.