Roman is Burning

For the record (and by record, I mean “my blog”, which is a sort of record in this day and age), here’s what I think about that whole Roman Polanski mess. Yes, Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl. Yes, it was “rape-rape”, as it involved alcohol, narcotics and an underage girl. Given the presence of narcotics, it still would have been rape-rape if she’s been of legal age. He also made some of the most amazing films of all time. These two things are, for the most part, mutually exclusive.

When the crime was committed, Polanski should have been tried and sent, not to jail, per se (though maybe for a little while), but certainly to a psychiatric prison where he received help. Because this man was not well at the time. His life till that point was filled with darkness that included the Holocaust and one of the most notorious serial killers in history. Both of these things directly effected his life. And he wasn’t coping with it well. Perhaps he’s somehow exorcised those demons since. Perhaps not. But at the time, he was definitely mentally ill. I have no doubt that had his wife and unborn child NOT been murdered by the Manson family, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

But since he wasn’t treated for his mental illness at the time of the crime, we are having this discussion years after the crime was committed. There are people who think they should just let it go (victim included). There are people who think he should be tarred and feathered for it. I think that since they did go through all the trouble of arresting him (finally), they should probably give him a trial. But if “temporary insanity” is not brought up, it is not a fair trial. I’m not saying he should be let off. I’m just saying sometimes fucked up circumstances make a person behave horribly and with whatever punishment he receives (or doesn’t receive), I hope they take that into consideration and get the man some help.



  1. I learned some interesting things about this case while debating it with somebody who, liberal though they claim to be, believes that Polanski needs to pay for his crimes, even 32 years later, because the law is the law. I disagree. But more on that in a second.

    Anyway, what happened is that Polanski actually went to a prison hospital (for psych evaluation) for 45 days back in 1977-78, and that was supposed to be that, but then the judge (now deceased) who sent him there seemed to be on the verge of sending Polanski to REAL jail for 45 more days, which went against his original word. Polanski feared punishment (read: anal rape) by his inmates and fled for France. So since he already pleaded guilty to the crime, technically he could be extradited to the U.S. and sentenced without a trial. More likely is that Polanski will be allowed a retrial based on allegations of judicial misconduct back in 1977-78. And the case might also simply be dismissed, or Polanski set free with a judgment of “time served”. Who knows? In any case, the irony is that had Polanski never copped a plea, the statute of limitations on his crime would have run out in 1987!

    As for my opinions on his state of mind… I know he went through a dark time, but there are millions of people who go through dark times, even darker times, and don’t rape 13-year-olds. His crime was more the crime of a debauched megalomaniac than a wounded artist. My opinion only. But putting him in jail now would be completely pointless. It’s not going to “rehabilitate” any part of him that hasn’t been rehabilitated over the past 32 years, and it’s silly to think that it will make the children of America (or France) safe from the clutches of this 76-year-old man. It’s a waste of time, energy and money.

    • I did not know that he went to a prison hospital or the facts of the original trial as you mentioned. That does actually sound like he paid for his crimes, at least as much as anyone in Hollywood ever does. O.J. never ever went to jail for murdering two people. So in light of that, I agree with you. It would be pointless to make him “pay” now.

  2. There are so many facets to this entire debacle that is is really difficult for me to keep perspective on it. I mean, on the one hand, I don’t disagree with a lot of what’s been said here. On the other hand, Roman Polanski drugged and raped a child and then fled the country to avoid a potential change to his plea agreement. I’m not sure that it is a waste of time and energy to show that a person can’t flee from justice just because he has the resources to do so.

    • There are so many facets to this entire debacle that is is really difficult for me to keep perspective on it.

      Yeah. It really is.

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