Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired


Crime / Documentary

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 85%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 78%
IMDb Rating 7.2 10 4738

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
June 29, 2020 at 05:45 AM


Meryl Streep as Self
Nicolas Cage as Self
Jack Nicholson as Self / Jack Gittes
921.09 MB
English 2.0
29.97 fps
1 hr 40 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 8 / 10

The media, the law, and a famous director

Roman Polanski's name, while illustrious, is clouded by both tragedy and scandal. Tragedy because his parents died in the Holocaust and his wife Sharon Tate, when eight months pregnant, was horribly murdered in the Manson Family massacre, scandal because of a notorious case of sex with a minor that led to his flight from the United States, where he is still "wanted." In France he is "desired," and then some. A lifelong French citizen and a member of the Académie des Beaux Arts, he is part of the cultural establishment there, and he has received frequent European awards. The Polanski of 'Knife in the Water', 'Repulsion,' 'The Tenant,' 'Rosemary's Baby,' 'Chinatown' and 'The Pianist' is a great director, but a flawed man. He never denied that he liked young girls. "I think most men do," he says in this film. Partying and women were essential to his life, and also partly how he coped with a singularly heavy past. This documentary shown on HBO and in a handful of theaters focuses on the 1977 case when Polanski was 43 and eventually pleaded guilty in a media-blitzed Santa Monica trial to the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, 13-year-old Samantha Geimer, whom he plied with champagne and Quaaludes during a photo shoot for Vogue at which no one else was present. The film explains what happened and why Polansi left this country before the trial was quite over and has never returned since.

Mainly this is a story of media frenzy and a corrupt, foolish judge, Laurence J. Rittenband. In determining the case, it emerges, Rittenband was so frivolous and uncertain that he sought and followed advice from a cub reporter, his two girlfriends, and his bailiff. The course this celebrity-mad magistrate ultimately followed was illegal. The upright defense lawyer, Samantha Geimer's lawyer, the lawyer for the prosecution and Geimer herself, all of whom contribute to the documentary, have nothing positive to say about Rittenband. His conduct of the case is shown to have been contradictory, erratic, and profoundly injudicious. Polanski, it emerges, did not flee "justice" under the California DA's office, to which he had willingly submitted, but the unpredictability of Judge Rittenband.

Director Zenovich seeks to show that some media-mad American judges (Rittenband is clearly not the only one) cannot be relied upon for justice or even sane behavior when celebrities are on trial. You have to watch the movie to get the intricate, far-fetched details of Rittenband's oscillating procedures, which wind up with him hoping to get the lawyers' complicity in his pretending to give a more severe sentence--to give the media what he thought it craved--than was justified by the case or he wanted to give. Note: unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor was the only charge that held, not rape or anything else, and the decision from various sides was that Polanski should be given probation. In an earlier compromise Rittenband had already confined him to the California State Prison at Chico for 43 days of "observation" in that dangerous environment, misusing this procedure as a sentence. After the judge's erratic behavior, neither defense nor prosecution lawyers had any confidence that he would hand down a logical or appropriate sentence if Polanski submitted again. The film conveys a sense that the director had endured enough.

Though the film doesn't say so, it seems important to note that Polanski was never a resident of the US but only here on visits to make a few films and a longtime resident of England. Hence his 30-year absence from the US to avoid legal hassles is "exile" from a country he never intended to make his permanent home. He was offered the option to return to complete the trial with the same lawyers and a new judge and the promise of no sentence ten years ago, but ironically that judge insisted the proceedings be televised, so Polanski refused. Many Americans, conditioned by the media hysteria of those years, continue to see the diminutive Polanski, a horror movie director in his mid-career, as a monster "dwarf" of dark intent.

The film also presents much information about Polanski's life, with glowing descriptions by friends and associates of his talent, his technical rigor, and his joie de vivre. To the film's credit, it speaks in favor of Polanski (even his victim has forgiven him) without in any way seeking to gloss over any of his misconduct. In interview excerpts from various times he never tries to excuse himself either--even at the height of the scandal, which came on top of the Sharon Tate murder and his depiction at that time as somehow to blame for what was in fact a great personal tragedy for him.

'Wanted and Desired' may surprise and shock in its careful rehabilitation of the director's personal reputation for American viewers. The whole case, through the cooperation of the principals, is outlined with admirable thoroughness. Alas, there is not as much as there could have been about the larger themes of sex crime and the corrupting effects of media overexposure and celebrity worship on the American legal system. Zenovich has wielded her magnifying glass with skill, but if she'd stepped back for a longer look her film could have taken on more significance.

Seen at the Roxie Film Center, San Francisco. The film's music director Joe Rudge was on hand for a Q&A after the screening.

Reviewed by mrsgsdesk 9 / 10

A Startling Document

Roman Polanski's life reads like a work of fiction. Tolstoi, Nabokov, Pasternak even Stephen King and Jackie Collins. The fact that it's not fiction but fact makes it overwhelming. He came from a world in which evil had taken away his parents in which he found his mission without any of the things that, most of us, would take for granted. That in itself is kind of admirable almost miraculous. This remarkable documentary puts things in perspective and it achieves that without rhetoric. How easy for a world consumed by gossip an innuendo to transform the man into a monster. I felt for Polanski, I could actually put myself in his shoes and weep. There is an element of innocence in his behavior that it's impossible to ignore. Hopefully, this film, will help justice to be done, real justice and real justice involves forgiveness and compassion.

Reviewed by Eternality 7 / 10

The handling of the trial seems to be Zenovich's primary focus, rather than Polanski.

Poland has produced great filmmakers such as Andrzej Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds, 1958; Man of Marble, 1977) and Krzysztof Kieslowski (A Short Film About Love, 1988; Three Colors: Red, 1994) whose works address directly issues of war, politics, economic turmoil, and moral unrest that have affected their country since WWII. Their films take a serious, hard-nosed slant, and are mostly well-known only in film scholarship and festival circuits.

The other great Polish film director is Roman Polanski, who completes what I dubbed as the "holy trinity of Polish cinema". He is known as the Polish Hitchcock, with films from his early career dwelling in the genre of horror, thriller, and mystery. He further established himself in America with unforgettable films such as Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974). He also became the first Polish filmmaker to win the Oscar for Best Director for The Pianist (2002).

The most controversial filmmaker to emerge from Eastern Europe of the last fifty years, not for his films (though some are) but for his widely-documented life story, Polanski is able to divide public opinion of him with just the mere mention of his name. This becomes the pursued theme of Marina Zenovich's documentary feature Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, an above average film that is more informative than entertaining.

I will summarize his life story in one paragraph: A young Polanski escaped the horrors of WWII but the Nazis executed his parents during their brutal reign. He grew up to enjoy fine life, womanizing, and film-making. He was at the height of his career when his pregnant wife was murdered. His life crumbled even further when he was accused of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor (who much later publicly forgave him). He pleaded guilty but the trial was not ethically handled by Judge Rittenband. Polanski then fled the US and never came back.

Through my observation, Polanski is not really made the subject of Wanted and Desired. Rather, it is the handling of the trial that seems to be Zenovich's primary focus. In the film, Polanski takes on the character that we are pressured to empathize with. Zenovich portrays him as a tortured person under too much media glare at that time, and his "escape" to France as a fugitive is seen as a liberating one.

Zenovich uses archival footage, and weaves them with interviews with key persons involved in the trial. Much of her film reveals the flawed, publicity-loving personality of Judge Rittenband, the unfair treatment of Polanski by the press, and the circumstances involving Polanski's alleged sexual assault. In an unbalanced way, Wanted and Desired plays too much on the "Wanted" card, whereas the "Desired" part only comes out as such in the final fifteen minutes of the film.

My stand on the Polanski sexual scandal is that no matter the reputation of the accused, he or she should be sentenced accordingly. However, the suspect handling of the trial has raised concerns over the quality and ethicality of the US judiciary system. Polanski was right to flee the US under the circumstances. Now that he is arrested again in Switzerland for that case that goes back to more than three decades, the question to ask is: Is it really still worth pursuing? SCORE: 6.5/10 ( All rights reserved!

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