Rating: 4 out of 5
Even in a land as scandal filled as Hollywood, few stories possess the same kind stunning tragedy as the Roman Polanski story. It’s the kind of sensational celebrity folklore that absorbs the public’s imagination.
After surviving the Holocaust and raising himself on the streets of Poland, with sheer determination and talent, Polanski moves to America to become an acclaimed film director. Then tragedy strikes again when his gorgeous wife, Sharon Tate (8 months pregnant at the time) is brutally murdered by the Manson family.
This all serves as the prologue to his very public arrest and trial for the rape of a 13-year-old girl. An event with so much drama and intrigue that it eclipses all that came before. All that the public remembers of Polanski now was that the mercurial director fled the country before being sentenced for his crime.
Marina Zenovich’s captivating documentary entitled Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired focuses upon the trials, and trial of Polanski in particular, and explores the situation in greater depth than ever before. Besides being an intelligent and gripping film, Wanted and Desired is also a first class work of investigative journalism.
With incredible access to all the players involved from the police investigators, the lawyers arguing the case (prosecution and defence) to the victim (Samantha Gailey Geime) herself, Zenovich attempts to piece together points of view from every conceivable angle in order to paint an accurate picture of the proceedings.
As it turns out, Zenovich’s efforts at uncovering the truth are a lot more than the judge in Polanski’s case himself attempted. Scathingly condemned from all sides, even the prosecutor, His Honour Judge Rittenband was a shameless media hound who used the trial to further his own public image and stature.
Through damning testimony from defence attorney, Douglas Dalton, assistant D.A. Roger Gunson and even the victim, it is revealed that Rittenband forced the lawyers to stage fake court room sessions for the media and even solicited reporters’ advice regarding sentencing, presumably to get a yardstick on what move would look more favourable in the papers.
While Polanski’s misdeeds are serious, it is the corrupt Rittenband and his perversions of the criminal justice system that make him the villain of the piece. As much as Polanski has sinned, this film shows that he was equally sinned against, by a vindictive judge and ravenous press.
There were mitigating circumstances but in the end, Polanski never denied what he did and freely confessed his guilt. As horrendous as his crime was, everyone is entitled to a fair trial, something that was so obviously denied to Polanski. How can we then be surprised that he fled?
Wanted and Desired is a sharp and accomplished documentary that goes beyond the tabloid headlines and sheds light upon an enigmatic man and the astonishing events that led to his unfortunate fugitive status.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini, aka inSing.com's Movie Lover, is 23-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for Metrowize Asia.
Hidzir is the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.