DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)

The director cannot even travel to Britain due to concerns that anyone could make a citizens’ arrest of him.

Published on January 27, 2009

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)

Documentary by Marina Zenovich
Studio: ThinkFilm/Image Entertainment TF5265DVD [Release date: Jan. 27, 09]
Video: 1.78:1 enhanced for 16:9 color
Audio: English DD 5.1 & 2.0
Subtitles: Spanish, English, English SDH
Extras: Commentary by director with editor Joe Bini, Deleted scenes, 2 hours of interviews with friends and authorities
Length: 100 minutes (feature)
Rating: *****

This is a superbly-done documentary that holds one’s interest from beginning to end, and may even change some viewers’ opinions about whether the famed Polish director should be forgiven and allowed back into the U.S. after his fleeing to Europe from his 1977-78 unlawful sex intercourse trial. The director has lived in France for 20 years now with his wife and two children. Polanski himself refused to be interviewed for the film, but there is plenty of footage of him to employ, plus clips from some of his great films such as Chinatown, The Tenant, and Rosemary’s Baby. Also missing from the film is the celebrity-crazy judge in the trial, the late Laurence Rittenband, who probably should have been disbarred.

Though the filmmaker clearly respects Polanski and appreciates his films, there is no minimizing of his seduction of the 13-year-old girl, however wild she was at the time, and in spite of her having forgiven him.  The story of the trial and its publicity is a serious indictment of our justice and media system, and it becomes clear why Polanski’s deciding to flee the country was his only option. Nearly all of the well-known (including Mia Farrow) and unknown actors, associates and friends interviewed have very commendable things to say about Polanski as a person and even the one critic who calls him “a rat” (in the bonus interviews) explains his appellation as not entirely negative and lauds the director’s films as some of the finest ever.  The effects on him of his childhood, hiding as a Jew from the Nazis, as well as the Sharon Tate murder, are discussed. Some of the clips from his films illustrate how the director got a poor image due to most of his films being on dark subjects. Interviewees observe that though Polanski had a difficult time in Europe at first, he has now reached the point that he can make a true masterpiece like The Pianist, that would not be a bit better had he made it in the U.S.  It was news to me that – in spite of doing most of his films in English -  the director cannot even travel to Britain due to concerns that anyone could make a citizens’ arrest of him and then the UK would have to allow him to be extradited to the U.S.

 - John Sunier




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