Reuters just reported today at 11:03am EDT that Roman Polanski and his movie “La Venus a la Fourrure” , English title: Venus in Fur, is likely to receive the “Palme D’Or” in Cannes tomorrow. But first the movie has to battle against it’s competitor today in order to be seen by all during it’s premiere this afternoon. This is the only hurdle the director will have to face. Is it morally acceptable that a person who thinks child abuse is OK, can still continue to work, be filthy rich, successful and loved by many, albeit mainly the French. (In specific French former minister of Culture and Communication, Frédéric Mitterand.*)
As a reminder these were the facts:
- March 1977, Roman Polanski had been detained bu the LA police and was charged with several offenses against Samantha Gailey. Samantha was just 13 at the time. The official wording by the court: – rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor.
- What did it mean to Samantha? These are her own words: “We did photos with me drinking champagne, Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn’t quite know how to get myself out of there.” During an interview in 2006 she added this: “I said, ‘No, no. I don’t want to go in there. No, I don’t want to do this. No!’, and then I didn’t know what else to do. We were alone and I didn’t know what else would happen if I made a scene. So I was just scared, and after giving some resistance, I figured well, I guess I’ll get to come home after this”
- Samantha testified to the court: that Polanski provided champagne that they shared as well as part of a Quaalude (a sedative hypnotic drug) , After that he got his way with her orally, vaginally and anally despite her constant objections. She continued saying how she wanted him to stop and saying “no” repeatedly.
- Polanski kept pleading not guilty to all charges. He later retracted that pleading and accepted a plea bargain. This bargain meant that five of the initial charges could be excluded but that he would plead guilty. The result would be that he had engaged in unlawful sexual intercourse. Because of this he had to go to a court ordered psych evaluation. The idea was that he would only receive probation after his sentencing and that he didn’t have to do any hard time. Unfortunately for Roman he wasn’t going to get off the hook that easily and he would have to do hard time and he would face deportation. Polanski didn’t wait around for this and fled to France in February 1978. From then on he has remained in France mostly and he has done his best not to visit countries who might extradite him to the US.
Sure we can argue about how long ago these facts have occurred. How many people have been arrested for the very same thing and never been sentenced to jail for it. In addition Samantha didn’t press the matter further and actually accepted a large sum of money to keep quiet. But the truth is a famous, powerful man who was forty three years old at the time took advantage of a young impressionable thirteen year old. (Just imagine how young that is, most people consider this an age where a girl is still “little”, should play with dolls or other innocent toys and dream about her prince on a white horse. Not fending a man off who is thirty years older than her and rich and physically strong. No matter if she agreed or not this shouldn’t be possible and furthermore it should be impossible to make movies, prosper, enjoy life and quite possible receive another feather in one’s cap. Or “golden palm leaf” in this case.
It won’t be his first either. He has received this price already in 2002 for “the Pianist”. (The story is semi-autobiographical and it’s a drama about the Warsaw Ghetto.) Surprisingly enough he also won an Oscar in the category of best director for this movie. He decided not to show his face there and Harrison Ford who presented the award also accepted the award on his behalf.
The saga continues to this day. On the twenty sixth of September in 2009 Polanski had been detained by the Swiss police at the Zurich Airport. After his arrest the US asked for his extradition. However on the twelfth of July 2010 the Swiss court rejected this request and released Mister Polanski from custody. All six of the original charges are still pending against him to this day. (The reason being; that he never got sentenced and just fled.)
When Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California during 2003-2011, was asked if he would grant Polanski a pardon he had the following to say: “I think that he is a very respected person and I am a big admirer of his work. But, nevertheless, I think he should be treated like everyone else. It doesn’t matter if you are a big-time movie actor or a big-time movie director or producer.” Schwarzenegger added: “And one should look into all of the allegations, not only his allegations, but the allegations about his case. Was there something done wrong? You know, was injustice done in the case?”
What is your opinion? Do you agree with Arnold? Or do you think no person should be able to receive any accolades after committing such a heinous crime and never serving time for that.
* Mitterand was very supportive and said about the ordeal of in his eyes loyal French citizen Polanski: “very deep emotion” after the questioning of the director, “a French citizen” and “a film-maker of international dimension ” he also added: “the sight of him thrown to the lions for an old story which doesn’t make much sense, imprisoned while traveling to an event that was intending to honor him: caught, in short, in a trap, is absolutely dreadful. Polanski had a difficult life, but always said how much he loves France, and he is a wonderful man”. Mitterand’s statements are incredibly painful if you’ve read his published book in 2005, which talks about using adolescent “boy” prostitutes in Thailand.