There’s a scene from a Stephen Sommers film called Van Helsing where a crowd of pitchfork weilding, torch carring villagers are stampeding toward a windmill where a deformed, and mangled creature is carrying his deceased maker. The creature climbs the stairs to the top of the windmill where in the distance, the throng comes ever nearer. As the crowd bears down on the windmill, we can hear screams and shouts of menace as they advance closer. The creature begs to be left alone to be with his master. But instead of empathy or pity, the blood-thirsty crown set fire to the fragile wooden structure sealing the creature’s fate along with that of hs maker. And as the creature wails his plaintive cry, “Why?” He falls to an unknown fate as the conflagration engulfs the two of them.
What does the previous paragraph have to do with anything?
The recent arrest of film director Roman Polanski in Switzerland has led to a similar mob-like behaviour of a group of very vocal, but uninformed pseudo-indignant protesters who believe the director of such films as Rosemary’s Baby, The Ninth Gate, and the award winning The Panist should be tarred, feathered, and any other number of horrible things for the 1977 rape of a 13-year-old in which Polanski, then 44. pled guilty to one count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. What remains mind-boggling is that none of these people have dared acquaint themselves with the facts of the case. This leaves this blogger with a serious case of whiplash. The ‘girl’ in this case is Samantha Geimer (nee Gailey) who is now married for a second time with three boys and living in Hawaii.
There are two schools of thought in all of this: one believes Polanski ‘got away with it’ when he fled final sentencing in 1978; the other are those who’ve either been with this case (as has the author if this post) and others who have had their minds changed after the airing of an HBO documentary on the case. Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired was directed by Marina Zenovich. Zenovich became interested in the case after seeing Geimer on The Larry King show on CNN in 2003 when there was discussion over whether Polanski would be nominated for an Oscar for his work in The Pianist. Zenovich watched and saw Geimer and her lawyer, Lawrence Silver, state that the day Roman Polanski fled, was a sad day in the Americal Judicial System. She was perplexed by that statement, and set out to investigate the truth of the case.
Securing interviews with the main participants in the case, Zenovich began to uncover a gross litany of judicial misconduct committed by the judge assigned to the case, who also renegged on the plea deal accepted by Polanski. However, no one wants to acquaint themselves with the actual facts of the case. Instead, they want to say that Polanski got away with it, undoing a ‘child’ so totally, he is somehow to be put in the same league as a Dahmer, Gacey, or even a Manson. Defenders of the ‘official story’ argue that Geimer was somehow this Little Red Riding Hood led down the garden path by the wolf, Polanski. The reportage of Polanski’s arrest has made this story grow and facilitate those willing to accept the lies, repeat over and over again with an almost sycophantic monotone of another of Sommer’s films. The Zombie scene in The Mummy where Imhotep has an entire city of Cairo under his spell chanting, “Im-ho-tep” in an almost comic fashion. It’s the press I blame for not availing themselves of the facts of the case to air to their public. All they do is concentrate on the ‘rape’ and age of the ‘victim’ to stir the moral outrage. These agencies have an obligation to supply as much background material on their stories to give a fuller, rounder version of the story. Not stick to ‘talking points’ as a means to deliver their news. And again, there is the notion that Polanski ‘brought this on himself’.
And this isn’t the first time this has happened to Polanski.
What’s ironic here is that Polanski had enjoyed a love affair going with the media. A darling due his quick rise during the 1960s for his films Knife in the Water, Cul-de-sac, The Fearless Vampire Killers and Rosemary’s Baby, Polanski and his wife moved in a world where praise was heaped and fed in hefty sums. There was nothing Polanski didn’t do that drew the affection of the press who sought to take photographs of him and hsi beautiful wife, Sharon Tate, arriving at airports, at film festivals, and at premieres. He was ‘their’ new prize. That was until the day of August 9, 1969 when Polanski’s home at 10050 Cielo Drive became the place of a multiple murder including Sharon, pregnant and due to give birth that month with Polanski’s baby, Jay Sebring, internationally known hairstylist to the stars, Voytek Frykowski, a friend of Polanski’s, Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger Coffee fortune, and Steven Parent, an 18 year-old college student visiting the caretaker. What began after that, was a system of ‘blaming the victims’ for their lifestyle. Something Polanski excoriated the press for at a news conference shortly after his return to the States from London where he ws prepping a film. From that time on, he called the press up on the carpet for their printing of erroneous and salacious stories involving Sharon and their guests in the months prior to the murders. After the murderers were caught in late October, members of the so-called Manson Family, Roman left the United States sooner than face more lurid details involving his beloved wife and their friends. He’d had it with the press.
For the next seven years, Polanski made four more films, Chinatown, MacBeth, The Tenant and What?. The first enjoying a return for Polanski to the kind of attention his earlier pre-Tate murder had enjoyed. When in 1977 word came over the wires that Polanski had been arrested for rape, the media throng descended. What became of that, is historic…
…end of part one