Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Much Too Late to Call Polanski to Account

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Much Too Late to Call Polanski to Account

Article excerpt

Byline: Olivia Cole

THERE'S NOTHING artistic about drugging, raping or sodomising a young girl. The details vary depending which version of Roman Polanski's 1977 seduction of a 13-year-old actress you read. Polanski for his part, although pleading guilty to sex with a minor (to escape a rape charge), has always maintained that whatever grisly scene played out in Jack Nicholson's house on Mulholland Drive, it was consensual. And that he thought the girl in question, Samantha Geimer, was older than her horribly young 13 years.

Through most of the 20th century, taking advantage of vulnerable wannabes has been an ugly feature of Hollywood, almost guaranteed to take up a chapter or two in any rags-toriches story and a stock-in-trade plot put on screen definitively in David Lynch's film Mulholland Drive. By the time James Dean made his first film - he was only 24 when he died - there were reportedly very few film executives left in LA who hadn't met him for dinner and whatever else they felt was their due.

Even so, it's the "tortured artist" card that the Parisian artistic establishment has played, led by Polanski's third wife, Emmanuelle Seigner. Even French president Nicolas Sarkozy has made his outrage public knowledge, thus giving the arrest by Swiss authorities of the 76-year-old film director - a French passport holder - all the potential for a major diplomatic row. Only in France, where they pride themselves on their elastic sense of morality and reverence for auteurs, could the president dive headfirst into defending a self-confessed perpetrator of underage sex.

There's been an arrest warrant out for Polanski, best known for Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby and The Pianist, since 1978, and an international arrest warrant since 2005. The buck will stop ultimately with President Obama: the president of Polanski's native Poland is already planning to lobby for clemency. …

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