HBO Summer Documentary Series: Roman Polanski

by JACQUELINE CHANCER · June 10, 2008

Roman PolanskiThe inaugural film of the summer '08 documentary series on HBO centered around the renown/notorious filmmaker, who brought the world true classics such as Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown to name just a few. Directed by Maria Zenovich and entitled Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, this documentary brought to the screen a man whose genius shaped what was viewed on the screen. The man who was so often behind the camera (though he often acted, but for the sake of the pun) is cast in the leading role.

Though I wouldn't call it a true fairytale story, Polanski's life was definitely akin to film. Making it big in Hollywood as a Holocaust survivor of Polish descent (by his mere talent alone), marrying the beautiful Sharon Tate, only to have her and his unborn child murdered by the Manson family and being forced into exile (in France of course) after having unlawful sex with a 13 year old girl...you just can't make this stuff up. The trial for his sexual relations with this American young girl was the focus of the documentary. For some, the controversy surrounding the event has created a shadow on Polanski, but it has not deterred his career, clearly with his recent Oscar win for The Pianist.

Though not altogether an awe-inspiring documentary to write home about, it was quite informative for those of us born after the events occurred. The interviews with key members of the case, including the young girl herself, along with hours of prime footage made this documentary special. This film provides both sides of the story, showing the humanity of Polanski, where we the audience are allowed to judge for ourselves.

If you missed it, I'm pretty sure you can catch it on demand. The series is on HBO every Monday at 9 P.M. until the end of August, for a complete listing of the docs check out the website.