Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Polanski Twist

Pedophiles are among the worst offenders of humanity.
The repercussions of a rape are like echoes haunting
the victim throughout the years of her life. The rape
of a child is worse, compounding the violation and
trauma, the heinous crime obliterates the 'innocence'
of childhood. Certainly a trite concept, but not the
less accurate for being true. Oliver Twist is the
classic story of child abuse. That the tale is retold
by the ultimate child-abuser, a pedophile, is a
sadistic twist of culture - a Polanski twist, if you
will.

Roman Polanski has directed the latest incarnation of
Oliver Twist, now in theaters. Roman Polanski is a
pedophile. He raped Samantha Geimer (nee Gailey),
then 13, in March 1977 during a dinner party at the
home of Jack Nicholson. The artful Polanski charmed
the thirteen year old with his old-world airs and
champagne then fed her a Quaalude. He seduced her
with fairy-tale Hollywood images of stardom to coax
her out of her clothes for nude photos to grace the
pages of French Vogue. The 43 year old Polanski
directed the girl next into a hot tub where he began
fondling her. Like the staging of a screenplay, the
scene moved to a bedroom. Despite her pleas to stop,
Polanski's fondling developed to groping all the while
interrogating her about her period and use of
birth-control. The old dodger proceeded to repeatedly
rape the teen in a variety of positions. In her grand
jury testimony, Geimer said she didn't fight "Because
I was afraid of him." Polanski agreed to a plea deal
but then fled to Europe rather than face a judge who
might void the deal and send him to prison.

Polanski has lived in French luxury for nearly thirty
years without the fear of extradition. He accepted an
Oscar for "The Pianist" in absentia rather than risk
being arrested on his return. Harrison Ford
personally accepted and hand delivered the Oscar.
Polanski sees nothing wrong with his behavior. His
opinion is expressed perfectly in his interview with
Agence France Presse of March 24, 2003: "Normal love
isn't interesting, I assure you it's incredibly
boring." This philosophy begs the question of his
recent successful libel suit against Vanity Fair.
Lewis Lapham reported a story with corroborating
witnesses that Polanski was trolling for sex on the
way to the funeral for Sharon Tate, his murdered wife.
Polanski claimed that "it was particularly hurtful
because it dishonours my memory of Sharon." He won
the suit because Lapham's timing was apparently off,
it seems, the episode happened after the funeral.
After her death, Polanski described Tate as "the
perfect woman," but before her death, he said "I can't
stand seeing Sharon blown up the way she is...This
pregnancy has made her such an insecure, nagging
b--ch." Tate was pregnant with his child when she was
murdered. What is undeniable is that within a week of
the funeral, Polanski was posing for a photo for Life
magazine at the door of the house where his wife was
murdered and he charged $5,000 for it. Polanski's
pedophelia is the stuff of legend and he considers it
normal. His autobiography describes how within a few
months of his wife and unborn child's vicious murder,
Polanski spent Christmas in Gstaad treating himself to
a series of sexual liasons with "girls from the local
finishing schools."

Polanski is now married to Emmanuelle Seigner and the
father of two children: a daughter, Morgane, the same
age as Samantha Geimer was when he raped her, and a
son, Elvis, who is seven. His 're-imagining' of the
Charles Dickens classic is a break for Polanski. His
films include Rosemary's Baby. Chinatown, Tess,
Frantic, and the aforementioned The Pianist. Polanski
admits, "My films always seem so unsuitable for a
family audience." With Oliver Twist, he "realised
that this was the way forward and I could do something
different. The Dickens story is a Polanski family
favorite and as he notes, "I have two young children
and want them to see a film of mine at the cinema."
But how could any parent trust Roman Polanski with
their children - it would be like asking Michael
Jackson to babysit. Oliver Twist has been released
internationally. In the UK it hit a snag, according
to the BBC: "Before the formal submission of the film,
the company was given advice that the strength of the
beating delivered by Bill Sykes (Jamie Foreman) to
Nancy (Leanne Rowe) was unlikely to be acceptable at
the PG category. The footage was reduced in strength
in the version submitted for classification." In the
United States is rated PG-13. Thus, despite his
professed intentions, Polanski's children would not be
admitted to the film. Quite frankly, it begs the
question, is this film really just another blow to
dull the sensitivity to violence in our children,
another chink in the armor of our ethical standards,
another step in legitimizing Polanski's point of view?
If Roman Polanski actually wanted to make a family
film, why didn't he shoot for the G rating? When was
the last time you actually saw a G rated film coming
out of Hollywood?

There is a director who is not quite so (in)famous as
Roman Polanski, his name is Carol Reed. In contrast
to the films of Polanski, cult-classics at best, Reed
directed some of the most recognized talents in some
of the most notable films. Reed was, according to the
New York Times, "the most lionized British director
this side of Alfred Hitchcock...[and] the first movie
director ever to be awarded a knighthood." His films
include Night Train To Munich with Rex Harrison,
Immortal Battalion with David Niven, The Third Man
with Orson Welles, Trapeze with Burt Lancaster, Mutiny
On The Bounty with Marlon Brando and Richard Harris,
The Agony And The Ecstacy with Charlton Heston and Rex
Harrison. Reed also directed such talents as James
Mason, Oliver Reed, Trevor Howard, and Bernard Lee.
Carol Reed also has the distinction to be one of a
very few directors to have made a successful,
blockbuster musical in the 1960s. Competeing with the
likes of Doctor Doolittle, My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly,
Music Man, Camelot, West Side Story, and Funny Girl,
Reed's musical stands out as the 20th century's last
musical to win the Best Picture Academy Award. If you
are looking for a Charles Dickens family film, Carol
Reed's Oliver! is your best bet. Why support a
pedophile and those who support him? If you have to
spend your money, bring home Oliver! for half the cost
of one movie ticket, enjoy it in the comfort of your
own family room, and tell Hollywood and Polanski that
they can keep their schlock and watch it themselves.

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