Roman Polanski: Is his legacy affected?

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

By now you’ve all certainly heard the news that Roman Polanski is a free man, thanks to Switzerland’s decision not to extradite him to the United States to face the criminal justice system regarding his 33-year-old conviction for having unlawful sex with a minor. Now that this chapter in the Polanski personal drama saga appears to be closed, how much damage has been done to the legacy of this Oscar-winning director? Will this scandal forever overshadow all the fine films he’s made? Or will he be known as a filmmaker first, and a statutory rapist second? I can recall being in the Kodak Theatre when Polanski won the Best Director Oscar for The Pianist in 2003, and despite all the renewed interest in the sex case that season, there seemed to be genuine excitement in the auditorium over his victory. But Polanski’s detractors can also be forgiven for thinking he’s a criminal who never really had to pay for his crime.

Where do you all stand? And how do you think, years down the road, people will remember him?: As a director, or as a fugitive? Or both?

Read more:
Roman Polanski exclusive: First look at interview included in ‘Ghost Writer’ DVD

Comments (153 total) Add your comment
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  • Bob

    They go hand and hand. As unfortunate as it may be, you can’t seperate his work as an artist from his criminal history. Personally I will always view him as an incredibly talented director, who got away from raping a kid unpunished.

    • Deeds

      Agree with you Bob. Professional success, personal failure.
      Also, I’ll never understand the notion of drugging anyone [or getting them drunk], of any age, and having sex with them.

    • Barry

      Like Michael Jackson got away with raping young boys. Money talks.

      • G

        Very true, Barry.

      • joe

        Very false, Barry.

      • Michael Schaeffer

        Barry, those people who said those things about Michael Jackson will rot in hell. One is already there.

      • britney

        Michael was never accused of raping any boys so get your facts straight starting with hw was acquitted in court of doing any wrong.

      • nellieo

        Barry, Michael Jackson didn’t “get away with raping little boys”…he didn’t rape or molest ANYONE. He actually went to trial. Since there was actually no evidence of him doing anything wrong, only evidence of the prosecution, compaintants and skeevy ex-employees who stole from Michael Jackson doing anything wrong he was found “NOT GUILTY”… Stop regurgitating the same misinformation and look into the FACTS before continuing to slander this poor man.

      • William

        The Book that Proves Michael Jackson’s Innocence – Redemption: The Truth Behind the Michael Jackson Child Molestation Allegation. maybe you’ll actually learn something there ;)

      • cleide97

        Michael Jackson was acquited.

    • Do The Research

      Michael Jackson has absolutely nothing to do with Roman Polanksi. Jackson did not drug children, that was Evan Chandler, and he did not sexually abuse them either.

      The settlement was paid in 1993 by an insurance company and clearly stated no admission of liability. What parent who truly believed their child had been molested would accept such a statement being included?

      Evan Chandler was an extortionist. This is fantastically obvious to anyone with any intelligence. The children Mr Jackson played with actually stated they had not been touched inappropriately in both 1993 and 2005.

      Jordan, himself refused to testify and Mesereau has stated he had witnesses prepared to swear – on oath, that Jordan had told them he not been molested by Jackson.
      This continuation of outright lies and falsehood about who Michael Jackson was, is nothing more than deliberate ignorance in the face of the facts.

      The FBI, one of the premier intelligence agencies in the world found nothing, there was no corroborative evidence in 1993, just the word of a frightened little boy given a drug by his immensely violent father.

      When will people wake up to the reslity that they have been manipulated by successive tabloid publications who found the molester myth of Michael Jackson more profitable than that of a displaced, innocent who empathized with children because of his own traumatic background.

      Not exactly a headline it it?

      • davidwalliamsnewsnewspage

        Jordan has actually publicly stated he had to say these sings from his dad…

      • halabalu

        Thank you “Do The Research”

  • Jonah

    I saw the documentary on the case, and feel somewhat more sympathetic to Polanski.

    • oneeleven

      I read the Grand Jury transcripts, and feel somewhat more repulsed by Polanski.

    • Bob

      All the documentary showed, to me, was that the people working the case were a bunch of creeps who had personal agendas to get some fame from prosecuting a celebrity. It never once had me doubt the guilt over what Polanski did. Just because the people working the case were less than admirable, doesn’t change the fact that Polanski is a rapist.

  • Ted

    [[But Polanski’s detractors can also be forgiven for thinking he’s a criminal who never really had to pay for his crime.]]
    Oh, thank you, Oh Mighty EW Writer to deign forgiveness for my silly notion that it was wrong for him to drug and rape a 13-year old girl.

    • David

      Thanks- you beat me to acknowledging that particular bit of condescension.

    • RyRyNYC

      I too had a problem with that sentence… but I blame Karger’s lack of talent as a writer for that gleaming dip into condescension. I acknowledge Karger’s knowledge of film/Oscars… but, I really feel this is a non-issue. Polanski is a brilliant artist while being a severely and deeply flawed human being who got away with a crime. POINT BLANK – no need to ask, he is a rapist. The fact that he didn’t pay for his crimes and made great art cross each other out.

    • Melinda65

      Yeah, I found that sentence rather condescending, too. So we need to be “forgiven” for considering Polanski a criminal who got away with it? I don’t care how wonderful his movies may be, I’m not interested in them.

      • Do The Research

        …. Michael Jackson, also stayed to face his charges, unlike Polanski who skipped and avoided the law.

        These men had nothing in common with each other.

  • Yes

    If it hadn’t occured in the time when women were blamed for their own rapes, the story would be different.

    • TE

      Yes he should have been charged with rape. After reading the victim’s statement I was shocked at what a creature Polanski is. He knew he had to drug her so she’d be nice and dopey and wouldn’t be able to fight him off.

    • Samantha

      Sorry, but can you please explain to me when the victim blaming has EVER stopped? It hasn’t. Women still are blamed for rape.

  • FF

    Only in Hollywood can a pedophile be celebrated

    • Barry

      Like Michael Jackson is.

      • Same Old

        You become repetitive.

      • mare

        You are showing your intelligence again Barry…

      • Ali

        You’re an idiot Barry, you need to check out the facts before embarrassing yourself. the facts PROVE Michael Jackson was innocent of molesting by fondling and he was never even accused of rape – even the liars that accused him obviously couldn’t make themselves go that far.

      • sofia

        Barry, you are obsessed, hopeless moron.

        Michael Jackson never rapped anybody, male or female, adult or minor.

        Even the Chandlers and alike were careful not to make such accusation in their extortion plot.

    • AK

      I’m still kind of pissed he won the Oscar that year, considering Rob Marshall’s work on “Chicago” was superior anyways…

  • Freddie

    I don’t think his legacy will be affected. If something could affect it, it would have happened by now. There will always be two camps on this one and neither one’s about to change their minds. Some people can separate his crimes from his art; others have some sort of odd objection to the rape of a 13-year-old. Glad to hear we can be forgiven for that, though.

  • Ilya

    He may have made fine films but I’ll always see him as the man who raped and sodomized a child. I don’t believe that he should be glorified in any way.

  • Minutiae

    If nothing else, I think he’s a complete and total coward.

  • Madd

    Look, I think he’s a great director. Chinatown is one of my all-time favorite films. It’s very tragic that his wife Sharon Tate was murdered while she was eight months pregnant.
    What he did was horrible. Had he done it today he probably would’ve gotten the sentence he deserved. The young girl he raped sounds incredibly smart and brave in interviews today, but it also seems like she hates this latest ordeal because it brings up those horrible memories.

    • ScrantonBeetFarmer007

      She may also hate the idea of having to pay back any settlement money she got back in 1976 from Polanski if the case were to be tried again in court. Just a thought….

      • Jelana

        Actually, you can’t make a legally binding agreement not to testify if called as a witness in a criminal trial. She would not have to give any money back. She doesn’t want a trial because she just wants to be past this whole thing.

  • Sierra

    The man is a scumbag who raped a young girl. That is is legacy! Other people could have directed his movies – the movies might have been even better.

  • fran

    How can that country let a child rapist free to possibly rape. It is disgusting that he was cheered for winning an award. Are these peopple going to cheer for him when he rapes again if he hasn’t already ???

    • tom

      the guy have not done any wrong in 30 years dude. He did his time as set by the judge. Get over it dude!

      • Nathan

        No. No he didn’t do his time. He fled the country instead like the repulsive, venal coward he is.

      • Freddie

        Except he never did time.

        He ran away during sentencing.

      • TE

        How do you know he didn’t commit anymore crimes while living in France?

      • G

        He did no time, Tom. That’s false. Would you “get over it” if he drugged and attacked your sister or relative? And how do you know he’s done nothing in 30 years? You don’t, so stop defending the creep.

  • AG

    Statutory rape is not forced rape against one’s will. Men in many Middle East and African countries have 12-year-old brides, against their will. Parents in Africa, SE Asia, and parts of the ME have sold their children into known prostitution for money. It’s all relative, and he’s paid for the crime.

    • J

      It wasn’t statutory. He copped a plea to statutory. He drugged the girl and she repeatedly said no. That’s rape, at any age.

    • I am

      Sorry but he has NEVER paid for the crime.

    • JB

      That is a lot of rationalization for a man to have sex with a 13 year old. It was both statutory rape and forced rape, unless you consider drugging a woman a form of consensual sex. In OUR society statutory rape is a crime because it should matter if an adult convinces a child to have sex, a child cannot consent to have sex. This post by AG really creeps me out.

    • Billy

      He didn’t pay for anything. He molested a 13 year old girl after illegally supplying her with alcohol and drugs. Just because there may have been some misdeeds by the judge and/or prosecutor, that doesn’t mean Polanski didn’t commit these crimes. Some of his films may be great, and I will continue to enjoy them, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t remember that the man who directed them also committed crimes.

    • ScrantonBeetFarmer007

      Statutory rape is having sexual intercourse with someone who isn’t of the age of consent, regardless of whether or not the underaged party says yes. It doesn’t have to be forced for it to still be rape.

      What you fail to tell us says more than what you’ve written. Is selling children into prostitution or marrying them off a common practice or is it considered archaic?

      In any event, while standards of rape may or may not be “relative,” Polanski raped a girl in THIS COUNTRY and should have been punished. The judge made an error that essentially allowed him to flee the country. Based upon OUR societal norms and OUR justice system’s practices, Polanski actually has NOT paid his debt to society.

      And by the way, read the transcript. Polanski also FORCED HIMSELF on this girl AND drugged her. By most any culture’s standards, that is indeed rape.

    • Yo Yo

      You do realize this is the EW website, not NAMBLA’S website?

  • Nathan

    Polanski’s still the man, Chinatown and Repulsion are friggin awesome movies!

  • Nathan

    If anyone should be arrested, it should M Night Shyamalan for continually stealing movie-goers’ hard earned.

    • RyRyNYC

      Your stupidity was so abundantly clear to your computer it didn’t allow you to finish your sentence.

      • ScrantonBeetFarmer007


    • G

      Nathan- So someone can be a rapist but he’s “the man” to you anyway? Nice attitude.

  • lisamama

    He deserves to be remembered as a child rapist – period. Nothing he did in his professional life even matters. He drugged and raped a girl, and never paid the price. He deserves to be remembered as the worst sort of coward.

    • G

      Agree completely!

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