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Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
DVD disk
02.24.2009 By: Jason Adams
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired order
Director:
Marina Zenovich

Actors:
Roman Polanski
Douglas Dalton
Roger Gunson

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
With CHINATOWN and ROSEMARY’S BABY under his belt, Roman Polanski was one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed filmmakers. Then in 1978 the director was accused and pled guilty to the rape of a 13 year old girl, eventually fleeing the U.S. to live abroad as a fugitive. Since then Polanski has raised and family and remained a respected force in the world of cinema. Clearly there is more to this story than meets the eye.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’m incredibly glad that ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED exists to tell the story it does. Child predators are the one group I generally have zero tolerance for. (I mean, they’re so despicable even other criminals hate them.) However, it’s hard for a fan of cinema to despise the man who gave us CHINATOWN and continues to make fantastic, award winning films. It’s kind of like that “Chappelle’s Show” episode where the lawyer asks Dave Chappelle if he thinks Michael Jackson is guilty of molesting children and he says, “No, man. He made Thriller. Thriller.” Well, Roman Polanski made CHINATOWN, man. CHINATOWN.

People assumed that because Polanski fled the United States he was guilty and a coward. And the first part of that is true, without a doubt. Polanski admittedly had sex with a girl he knew was 13 years old. It’s thoroughly wrong and morally repugnant, though the circumstances of both the cultural situation and the victim’s innocence are debatable. However, what people forget about, and what is great about this film, are the complications of the trial itself and the misuse of the American justice system that took place afterwards.

It’s a completely compelling and unbelievable story, one so ridiculous it has to be true. Polanski was cooperative and willing to get his punishment over with, only to fall in to the hands of a grandstanding, celebrity obsessed judge who directed his own courtroom like a Hollywood production. Then there was the press, an eerie a precursor to the modern tabloid culture and how the media can affect public perception and, in turn, the legal system. And it only gets crazier from there. The real damning evidence presented in WANTED AND DESIRED is the participation of the attorneys for the defense and the prosecution, who both agree. When the lawyer prosecuting you admits he would’ve done the same thing given the situation (i.e. flee the country), that’s a pretty heavy endorsement that something got royally effed up. It also makes for a damn good documentary.

Aside from the details of the controversial court case, the film also gives a history of Polanski’s life and career, which is itself a fascinating story worthy of cinema. (This includes his mother being killed in a concentration camp during World War II and Polanski barely surviving the Nazis and the Krakow ghetto and marrying actress Sharon Tate only to see her murdered by Charles Manson.) The sheer amount of footage director Marina Zenovich acquired to present it all is amazing, as if camera’s have been following Polanski’s entire life. The documentary is also playfully and entertainingly edited. There are multiple spots where I found myself laughing (purposefully), which is quite remarkable given the subject matter.
THE EXTRAS
There are a ton of leftover interviews and extra information, making for some worthwhile bonus material.

Commentary by director Marina Zenovich and editor Joe Bini: As I guessed, Zenovich is used to making lighter, more comedic fare. That helps the commentary move at a brisk pace, and the director has a good back and forth chemistry. Their comments add another layer to the story that’s worth it for the grossly interested.

Deleted Scenes: About five minutes worth of stuff; mostly more reminiscing about the case, but no smoking guns or new insights.

Extra Interviews: The filmmakers talk to more lawyers and journalists connected with the case. There’s close to half an hour of stuff, some repetition of already known facts and some extraneous info. There’s also a pretty funny bit about people reporting “Bigfoot-like sightings” of Polanski.

Friends and Colleagues Talk About Polanski: One on one interviews with over 20 (!) people who knew Polanski well, including celebs like Mia Farrow, Natassia Kinski, Robert Towne and the always great Robert Evans. Whether it’s more background on his personal history growing up or accounts of his work ethic and persona, everyone talks highly of Polanski’s character.

Writers on Polanski: Not sure how these three guys are connected to Polanski, or if they just admire him, but one of them positively compares him to a rat. None of these interviews really fit in to the broader scope of the movie.

Will He Ever Come Back?: Friends speculate whether or not the man will ever return to the United States. The overall consensus is no.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED is probably the only time you’ll see a two hour documentary defend someone accused of raping a 13 year old girl. Polanski’s is truly an unbelievable and worthwhile story, told here in an entertaining fashion. Definitely worth picking up for the interested.

Extra Tidbit: The victim in this case has since forgiven Polanski and publically called for the case against him to be thrown out. Polanski is married to model/actress Emmanuelle Seigner and the pair have two kids together.
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