Roman Polanski: the art of being an outsider (Topic)

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Roman Polanski: the art of being an outsider

Image Today marks 85 years of Roman Polanski - one of the darkest film artists of our time. The director's life itself is similar to one of his films about a man who feels like a stranger everywhere.

Raimund Roman Liebling, known all over the world under the name Roman Polanski, was born in 1933 in Paris. Three years later, his parents moved to the Polish city of Krakow. This decision was fatal for them: when Germany occupied Poland, they ended up in the Krakow ghetto, and then in the concentration camps. Little Roman had to survive on his own in terrible conditions. This experience affected his work: the director is interested in borderline situations in which external forces act on a person. These forces can be a stranger ("Knife in the Water"), a criminal ("Dead End"), special services ("Ghost") or the devil himself ("Rosemary's Baby").

Polanski decided to go in for cinema as a child. Another Polish filmmaker, Andrzej Wajda, gave him a ticket to the profession, who filmed the boy in his Generation and helped him enter the film school in Lodz. Already in his first student works, Polanski showed his love for thrillers: in the short film Murder, a stranger kills a sleeping man.


The first feature film, Knife in the Water, was revolutionary in many respects for Polish cinema: it sounds jazz, features a scene with a naked woman, and was nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Film. But then the picture lost to Federico Fellini's "8 1/2", and Polanski himself was sure of the victory of the great Italian.

Inspired by international success, Roman Polanski moved to the UK, where he directed the surreal film Disgust and the thriller Dead End. There is a claustrophobic suspense in both films, which Polanski will bring to perfection in Rosemary's Baby, his first film adaptation of a literary work.


Rosemary's Baby is on all the best horror lists. The dark, overwhelming picture of the horrors of motherhood and fear of strangers quickly gained cult status and was overgrown with legends of the curse. For example, with the Polish jazz composer Krzysztof Komeda, who had long collaborated with Polanski and wrote a powerful mystical soundtrack for Rosemary's Baby, an accident that ended in death happened shortly after the film was released. And next to the building where the film was filmed, 12 years later, John Lennon was killed.

But the main proof for the superstitious was the personal tragedy of Roman Polanski: a year after the release of Rosemary's Baby, his pregnant wife Sharon Tate and her three friends were brutally murdered by members of Charles Manson's gang. This was for Polanski another blow of fate after the loss of his parents and a difficult childhood. He fell silent for two years and in 1971 released Macbeth, one of the darkest adaptations of Shakespeare's darkest play.


The next high-profile work was the neo-noir Chinatown, which is now included in all textbooks on directing and screenwriting. The film received 11 Oscar nominations, but Polanski was again unlucky with a competitor: Godfather 2 took almost all the awards that year, and Chinatown won only one.

In 1978, Roman Polanski left the United States after being accused of raping a minor. The charges have not been dropped until now, so the director has never returned to the States, living and working in France, Switzerland and Poland. This spot on Polanski's biography causes a mixed reaction and haunts the director to this day.


In Europe, the director films classics (Tess, Oliver Twist, Venus in Furs) and works with contemporary authors (The Phantom, The Ninth Gate, The Massacre). In 2002, Polanski formulated his entire experience of living in the Jewish ghetto in the biographical drama The Pianist. Despite the scandalous status of the director, the film received the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and the director received the long-awaited Oscar, albeit in the Best Director nomination.

Polanski's latest film to date is a psychological thriller, Based on a True Story, about a writer and her haunting female fan. Several years ago, the director announced that he was working on a political thriller about the famous Dreyfus case. Perhaps this is the only way available to Polanski to justify the accusations against him. We, the audience, can only wish the director inspiration, good health and many years to come!

The Topic of Article: Roman Polanski: the art of being an outsider.
Author: Jake Pinkman