Roman Polanski is in a Swiss jail, arrested for a brutal and heinous crime he committed 32 years ago. The woman he raped and brutalized when she was a child has forgiven him and says she does not wish to see him remain in jail. His friends in Hollywood are speaking out on his behalf. What's to be done?
First, let me say that I consider Polanski's film The Pianist one of the finest films ever made. And, while it is well known that I will take nearly any opportunity to post a photo of Adrien Brody on my blog, I cannot say often enough what a masterpiece I consider this movie to be. Polanski has made other excellent films but from my view The Pianist is his master work. Now, what's to be done with its maker?
Last night I was invited to dinner at the home of some new friends (and I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce my readers to Everyman's Blog) who are involved in a very ambitious and soon to be revealed online community. While we were talking the subject of movies came up and we got talking about a few Hollywoodites who are quite outspoken about their opinions on various subjects from politics to fashion. My personal perspective on this is that everyone has the right to have and to express an opinion and if other people want to listen to them that is also their right but I have little interest in the personal lives of these people and prefer to just focus on them doing their jobs. I expect actors to do a good job of acting. I expect directors to do a good job of directing, etc. etc. etc. In other words, don't confuse the magic with the magician. I recently watched Cadillac Records and thought that Jeffrey Wright's acting always leaves me breathless --- but that doesn't mean I'd take his advice on politics.
Which brings me to the question of genius versus atrocity. No matter how brilliant Polanski is he did an evil thing. And no matter how forgiving his victim is, he needs to make amends. The question is, what does that mean?
In a recent post about Senator Edward Kennedy I wrote, I believe the graces of atonement, forgiveness, and reparation are the most important values in any situation. No matter what the sin, no matter what the crime, no matter what the situation to atone, ask for forgiveness, and make reparation is the most decent and moral of human choices.
I still believe that. If Polanski's victim and the public don't want him jailed that is one thing but Polanski himself needs to atone. He needs to say that he is sorry and he needs to make reparation --- what form that would take, I can't say. But I'd far rather see him use his genius, and the millions of dollars it is capable of generating, to help girls who are sexually abused by grown men than see him wasting away in jail.
It remains to be seen how this will unfold but I am hopeful that Polanski will be as remorseful and dedicated to making amends as Senator Kennedy was. Bad things happen and people do really shameful, horrible things but atonement and reparation are, as always, the most moral of behaviors. I will keep a good thought that Polanski is brilliant enough to know that.
Thanks for reading.