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Polanski: a life of fiction

Noel Hernádez

Everyone will know about Roman Polanski’s situation by now. The French- Polish film maker who, since the 26th of October is being held prisoner at a Swiss jail, awaiting his extradition to the United states where he will have to answer to the case made against him of sexual abuse, on the 10th of December this year at Los Angeles court (California) according to The New York Times website.

Following an international order of arrest issued in 1978, when after being accused of having sexual relations with a minor, he fled the United States without waiting the judge’s verdict. The director was arrested at Zurich airport where he went to receive a lifetime achievement award at the festival of Swiss cinema.

The artist, who as an actor had played the role of Gregorio Samsa in Metamorphosis and, as a director has explored the subject matter of the absurd at length in his work (especially in Cul-de- sac, 1966 and Le locataire, 1976), will have personally proved how real life has defied fiction turning his own into Kafka’s most twisted nightmare. Despite infinite opportunities to arrest Polanski due to his free movement between countries that hold an extradition agreement with the United States, it is only now, at 76 years of age, that for no apparent reason, he has been taken into custody in Switzerland. (The same Switzerland that he has been visiting for the last three decades and where he has a house) It is worth pointing out that the crime was committed 32 years ago and that the victim dropped the charges. Justice in this case, seems impeccable.

What is also surprising is the forceful way in which public opinion has reacted almost unanimously, approving the fate of the director of The Pianist, with the argument that “justice should be equal for everyone.” However, as the writer and French philosopher Bernard- Henri Lévy points out in his article in the online edition of El País, if there seems to be a double standard in this case, then it is working against Roman Polanski. The French thinker proved his argument when he addressed the listeners of On point , the radio programme of the radio station NPR, with the defiant statement: “show me a case, just one, of an anonymous citizen, guilty of the same crime which has been reviewed thirty years after the incident” and no one was able to do it.

We hope that these last macabre chapters will not conclude the life of Roman Polanski. Magnetic works with spine chilling passages about his childhood in the Warsaw ghetto, the death of his mother in Auswitchz, his pregnant wife disemboweled by the Manson family and the excess baggage that he himself paid for in the long run. We will maintain a key interest to the outcome.

(Translated by Laura Barton)

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