The Pianist - Movie by Roman Polanski. Starring Adrien Brody as Wladyslaw Szpilman. 

As the credits roll, a magnificent performance of Grande Polonaise Brillante by Chopin. 

I wonder how it is possible for anyone to play such a piece as this (Ballade No. 1) in sub-zero temperatures. I'd be struggling to even play hymns in church when so cold.  

Storyline

A brilliant pianist, a Polish Jew, witnesses the restrictions Nazis place on Jews in the Polish capital, from restricted access to the building of the Warsaw ghetto. As his family is rounded up to be shipped off to the Nazi labor camps, he escapes deportation and eludes capture by living in the ruins of Warsaw.
The film is based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman. The director Roman Polanski tried to make the film as faithful of an adaptation as possible, with additional inspiration coming from events that happened to him while he was a boy during the war.

 

Review:

The Pianist is an incredible film in many aspects. Roman Polanski's account of the survival of the pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, is a document about how one man can overcome the worst possible situations in a world gone completely mad around him.

There is a very interesting point raised by the the pianist's father who upon reading something in the paper, comments about how the Americans have forgotten them. Well, not only the Americans, but the rest of the world would not raise a finger to do anything for the people that were being imprisoned and made to live in the confined area of Warsaw. The exterminating camps will come later.

What is amazing in the film, is the frankness in which director Polanski portrays the duplicity of some Jews in the ghetto. The fact that Jews were used to control other Jews is mind boggling, but it was a fact, and it's treated here matter of factly. Had this been made by an American director, this aspect would have never surfaced at all. Yet, Mr. Polanski and Mr. Harewood show us that all was not as noble and dignified as some other films have treated this ugly side of war.

Wladyslaw Szpilman, as played by Adrien Brody, is puzzling sometimes, in that we never get to know what's in his mind. He's a man intent in not dying, but he's not a fighter. He accepts the kindness extended to him. He never offers to do anything other than keep on hiding, which is a human instinct. He will never fight side by side with the real heroes of the ghetto uprising. His role is simply to witness the battle from his vantage point in one of the safe houses across the street from where the action takes place.

Adrien Brody is an interesting actor to watch. As the pianist of the story he exudes intelligence. There is a scene where Szpilman, in one of the safe houses he is taken, discovers an upright piano. One can see the music in his head and he can't contain himself in moving his fingers outside the closed instrument playing the glorious music from which he can only imagine what it will sound in his mind.

The supporting cast is excellent. Frank Finlay, a magnificent English actor is the father of the pianist and Maureen Lipman, another veteran of the stage, plays the mother with refined dignity.

In watching this film one can only shudder at the thought of another conflict that is currently brewing in front of our eyes. We wonder if the leaders of the different factions could be made to sit through a showing of The Pianist to make them realize that war is hell. 

Władysław Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a famous Polish Jewish pianist working for Warsaw Radio, sees his whole world collapse with the outbreak of World War II and the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. After the radio station is rocked by explosions from German bombing, Szpilman goes home and learns that the United Kingdom and France have declared war on Nazi Germany. He and his family rejoice, believing the war will end quickly.
When the German Army enters Warsaw, living conditions for the Jewish population gradually deteriorate as their rights are slowly eroded: first they are allowed only a limited amount of money per family, then they must wear armbands imprinted with the blue Star of David to identify themselves, and eventually, in November 1940, they are all forced into the squalid Warsaw Ghetto. There, they face hunger, persecution and humiliation from the SS and the ever-present fear of death, torture and starvation. The Nazis become increasingly sadistic and the family witnesses many horrors inflicted on other Jews. In one scene, a group of Einsatzgruppen, led by an NCO, go into the apartment across from the Szpilmans. They order the family on the top floor to stand, then when an elderly man in a wheelchair is unable to comply, the SS throw him off the balcony. The rest of the family are then taken out into the street and shot, and the SS drive off, running over the bodies along the way.
Before long, the family, along with thousands of others, are rounded up as part of Operation Reinhard for deportation to the extermination facility at Treblinka. As the Jews are being forced onto rail cars, Szpilman is saved at the last moment by one of the Jewish Ghetto Police, who happens to be a family friend. Separated from his family and loved ones, Szpilman manages to survive. At first he is pressed into a German reconstruction unit inside the ghetto as a slave labourer. During this period, another Jewish labourer confides to Szpilman two critical pieces of information: one, that many Jews who still survive know of the German plans to exterminate them, and two, that a Jewish uprising against the Germans is being actively prepared for. Szpilman volunteers his help for the plan. He is enlisted to help smuggle weapons into the ghetto, almost being caught at one point.
Later, before the uprising starts, Szpilman decides to go into hiding outside the ghetto, relying on the help of non-Jews who still remember him such as an ex-coworker of his from the radio station. While living in hiding, he witnesses many horrors committed by the SS, such as widespread killing, beating and burning of Jews and others (the burning is mostly shown during the two Warsaw uprisings). In 1943, Szpilman also finally witnesses the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising he helped to bring about, and its aftermath as the SS forcibly enters the ghetto and kills nearly all the remaining insurgents. A year goes by and life in Warsaw further deteriorates. Szpilman is forced to flee his first hiding place after a neighbor discovers he is hiding there. In his second hiding place, near a German military hospital, he is shown into a room with a piano and then told to be as quiet as possible. Here, he nearly dies from jaundice and malnutrition.
In August 1944, the Polish resistance mounts the Warsaw Uprising against the German occupation. Szpilman witnesses the Polish insurgents fighting the Germans outside his window. Again, Szpilman narrowly escapes death when a German tank shells the apartment he is hiding in. Warsaw is virtually razed and depopulated as a result of the fighting (see Aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising). After the surviving Warsaw population is deported from the city ruins and the escape of German SS from the approaching Soviet Army, Szpilman is left entirely alone. In buildings still standing, he searches desperately for food. While trying to open a can of Polish pickles, Szpilman is discovered by a captain of the Wehrmacht, Wilm Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann). Upon questioning Szpilman and discovering that he is a pianist, Hosenfeld asks Szpilman to play something for him on the grand piano that happens to be in the building. The decrepit Szpilman, still a pianist prodigy, plays an amazing piece that impresses Hosenfeld.
Hosenfeld lets Szpilman continue hiding in the attic of the building and even brings him food regularly, thus saving his life. Another few weeks go by, and the German troops are forced to withdraw from Warsaw due to the advance of Red Army troops. Before leaving the area, Hosenfeld asks Szpilman what his name is, and, upon hearing it, remarks that it is apt for a pianist (Szpilman being the Polish rendering of the German Spielmann, meaning "man who plays"). Hosenfeld also promises to listen for Szpilman on Polish Radio. He gives Szpilman his Wehrmacht uniform greatcoat and leaves. Later, that coat is almost fatal for Szpilman when Polish troops, liberating the ruins of Warsaw, take him for a German officer and shoot at him. He is eventually able to convince them that he is Polish, and they stop shooting.
As newly freed prisoners of a concentration camp pass a fenced-in enclosure of German prisoners of war sitting on the ground and guarded by Soviet soldiers, they start collectively verbally abusing the prisoners, with one tirading that he used to be a violinist. A visibly beaten Hosenfeld, a shadow of his former once proud demeanor, comes up to the fence and asks the violinist if he is familiar with Szpilman, which the violinist confirms. Hosenfeld states that he helped him in hiding and asks if Szpilmann can return the favor. Szpilman, now playing live on Warsaw Radio, is visited by the violinist in the studio, who takes him to the site with all the prisoners having been removed along with any trace of the stockade. In the film's final scene, Szpilman triumphantly performs Chopin's Grand Polonaise brillante in E flat major to a large audience in Warsaw. Title cards shown just before the end credits reveal that Szpilman continued to live in Warsaw and died in 2000, but that Hosenfeld died in 1952 in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp.
 

Wilm Hosenfeld


In 2002 Wilm Hosenfeld achieved world-wide fame as the rescuer of the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, when Roman Polanski's film "The Pianist" won the Golden Palm in Cannes and 3 Academy Awards. This incredible story of survival brought tears to the eyes of those all around the world who saw the film. As Benjamin Z. Kedar tells in his article Has Satan taken on a human form? in www.Haaretz.com August 6, 2004:

"Anyone who has seen Roman Polanski's film "The Pianist" remembers the scene in which a German officer listens to Polish-Jewish musician Wladislaw Szpilman playing, hides him in an attic in Warsaw and sees to his needs.

 

 

Anyone who has read Szpilman's book remembers that when the musician asks his savior whether he is a German, the latter replies emotionally: "Yes! And I am ashamed of this, after everything that has happened." Szpilman, who was afraid that if he fell into the hands of the Germans he would break down and reveal his rescuer, preferred not to know his name.


Thus it happened that only in the epilogue that Wolf Biermann added in 1998 to the new edition of Szpilman's memoirs, was it revealed for the first time that the German officer was called Wilm Hosenfeld, and some details about his life story were given."



The Holocaust is a history of enduring horror and sorrow. It seems as though there is no spark of human concern, no act of humanity, to lighten that dark history. Yet there were acts of courage and kindness during the Holocaust - this is the story of Wilm Hosenfeld, a German Wehrmacht officer who believed in helping others, even at the risk of getting himself killed - a man who had the courage to stand against evil. The Holocaust survivor, the author Elie Wiesel, has dedicated his life to ensuring that none of us forget what happened to the Jews. The Nobel Prize recipient wrote:
"In those times there was darkness everywhere. In heaven and on earth, all the gates of compassion seemed to have been closed. The killer killed and the Jews died and the outside world adopted an attitude either of complicity or of indifference. Only a few had the courage to care."
The Holocaust
One of them was Wilm Hosenfeld. He risked everything to help Jews escape the Nazi genocide and achieved world-wide fame as the rescuer of the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, when Polanski's film "The Pianist" won the Golden Palm in Cannes and 3 Academy Awards. Many, many people around the world, including Andrzej Szpilman, the son of the pianist, has been demanding, for years now, that Yad Vashem honor Wilm Hosenfeld as a Righteous Among the Nations: non-Jews who risked their lives in order to rescue Jews. Today the name of Wilm Hosenfeld is known to millions as a household word for courage ... - Louis Bülow   www.auschwitz.dk
 

Wilm Hosenfeld was a kind and gentle Wehrmacht officer who believed in helping others, even at the risk of getting himself killed - a man who had the courage to stand against evil. Once, when riding a bicycle near the Polish town of Pabiance, Hosenfeld had encountered a young Jewish woman running desperately down the road. When he asked her where she was going, she was so frightened she stammered out the truth and told Hosenfeld that she was pregnant and that her husband was a prisoner in the concentration camp. She was going to the camp to beg for his release.

Hosenfeld wrote down the husband’s name and said to the wife, "Your husband will be home again in three days." And he was ...

On another occasion, Wilm Hosenfeld had learned that the Gestapo had rounded up a number of men, including the brother-in-law of a priest who had labored sacrificially in the underground. They were being taken by truck to a labor camp, and the brother-in-law was to be executed.

Hosenfeld spotted the truck moving through town, waved it down, and told the S.S. officer, "I need a man" for labor detail. He picked out the priest’s brother-in-law, as if by random selection, and the man was saved.

A woman in Australia has later testified that Wilm Hosenfeld saved her brother, Leon Warm, after he escaped from a train bound for the death camp Treblinka. Hosenfeld sheltered him and procured him false papers.

Wilm Hosenfeld saved the pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, too. During the late fall of 1944 he discovered Szpilman's hiding place at the Aleja Niepodleglosci 223 in Warsaw and found Szpilman lurking in the ruined house, in rags, dirty, unshaven, with long hair. Hosenfeld decided to protect the Jewish pianist, brought him food and clothes and helped him stay hidden.

Wladyslaw Szpilman was believed to be one of only about 20 Jews alive in Warsaw when the Polish capital was liberated in 1945.

According to Andrzej Szpilman, the son of the pianist, "Hosenfeld first saved Jews in September 1939, and he continued to do it throughout the war. To my knowledge, he helped at least four people and I think there were probably many more. I know that we owe a lot to Mr Hosenfeld. Without him, my father would not have survived and this film could not be made."

On December 14, 1940, Wilm Hosenfeld wrote in his diary:"I want to comfort all these poor souls and ask for their forgiveness, because the Germans treat them so badly ..."
 

 Hosenfeld's Diary

The comprehensive edition of Wilm Hosenfeld's letters and diary notes - edited by the Office for the Research of Military History at Potsdam - provides insight into the life and thought of a German patriot who joined the Nazis out of idealism, but turned away from them in horror when he recognized the dreadful consequences. In November 1939 he wrote to his wife that he was sometimes ashamed to be a German soldier after having been an eye witness to the execution of members of the Polish leadership and the expulsion of Polish and Jewish citizens.

On September 1, 1942, he asked: "Why did this war have to happen at all?" This was his answer;

"Because humanity had to be shown where its godlessness was taking it ... This denial of God's commandments leads us to all the other immoral manifestations of greed - unjust selfenrichment, hatred, deceit, sexual license resulting in infertility and the downfall of the German people. God allows all this to happen ... to show mankind that without him we are only animals in conflict, who believe we have to destroy each other. We will not listen to the divine commandment: "Love one another" ... and must die, guilty and innocent alike."

When he got knowledge of the mass murder of the Soviet Jews, the beginning of the gassing at Auschwitz and the extermination of the Warsaw Jews at Treblinka, he realized the magnitude of the crimes:

A diary entry of Wilm Hosenfeld June 16, 1943:

"Innumerable Jews have been killed like that, for no reason, senselessly. It is beyond understanding. Now the last remnants of the Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto are being exterminated. An SS Sturmführer boasted of the way they shot the Jews down as they ran out of the burning buildings. The entire ghetto has been razed by fire.

These brutes think we shall win the war that way. But we have lost the war with this appalling mass murder of the Jews. We have brought shame upon ourselves that cannot be wiped out; it is a curse that cannot be lifted. We deserve no mercy; we are all guilty ..." 

A diary entry from August 13, 1943:

"It is impossible to believe all these things, even though they are true. Yesterday I saw two of these beasts in the tram. They were holding whips in their hands when they came out of the ghetto. I would like to throw those dogs under the tram. What cowards we are, wanting to be better and allowing all this to happen. For this, we too will be punished, and our innocent children after us, because in allowing these evil deeds to occur, we are partners to the guilt."

A diary note from December 5, 1943:

"Our entire nation will have to pay for all these wrongs and this unhappiness, all the crimes we have committed. Many innocent people must be sacrificed before the blood-guilt we have incurred can be wiped out ..."

The Aftermath

Benjamin Z. Kedar tells in his article how Hosenfeld tried to aid persecuted Poles and Jews, and also to help a communist German soldier, who had been in the concentration camps. He employed some of them in the sports stadium that was under his command. In his interrogation in Russian captivity, he later gave the names of four Jews he had saved - among them "Wladislaw Szpilman, a pianist in the Polish Radio orchestra."

Wilm Hosenfeld was taken captive by the Soviets on January 17, 1945. Despite many people pleading his case and Szpilman’s efforts to help him, the Soviets refused to believe that he was not involved in war crimes.

According to Benjamin Z. Kedar Hosenfeld suffered his first stroke in 1947 and thereafter spent long periods in the infirmaries of the prison camps. He continued to hope that he would be released, but in 1950 a military court in Minsk sentenced him to 25 years' imprisonment.

Wilm Hosenfeld died in a prisoner camp near Stalingrad on August 13, 1952, at the age of 57, due to hard conditions in prison and brutal interrogations.

Wolf Biermann added to Szpilman's memoirs
:

"He had been tortured in captivity because the Soviet officers thought his claim to have saved a Jew a particularly lie. He then suffered several cerebral strokes. By the end he was in a confused state of mind, a beaten child who does not understand the blows. He died with his spirit utterly broken."

Wladyslaw Szpilman lived in Warsaw until his death July 6, 2000, a few months before the filming of The Pianist began. He was 88.

Many, many people around the world, including Andrzej Szpilman, has been demanding, for years now, that Yad Vashem honor Wilm Hosenfeld as a Righteous Among the Nations: non-Jews who risked their lives in order to rescue Jews. To date, more than 20,000 men and women, including family members who shared in the rescue of Jews, have been recognized.

 

Book (Wilm Hosenfeld)

Wilm Hosenfeld hat über tausend Seiten Tagebücher und Briefe hinterlassen. Die Deutsche Verlagsanstalt bringt sie heraus. Die Aufzeichnungen umfassen die Jahre 1938 bis 1952 und dokumentieren eindrucksvoll Wilm Hosenfeld als vehementen Gegner des NS-Regimes - Zeugnis von der inneren Zerrissenheit dieses deutschen Offiziers, der immer wieder Menschlichkeit und Gerechtigkeit über Eid und Befehle stellt.

The diaries of Wilm Hosenfeld:
The book of
Wilm Hosenfeld: "Ich versuche jeden zu retten"
("I try to save everybody") based on his letters and diaries has now been published - at first only in German ...
Hardcover - 980 pages - Dva
Release date: June 2004
ISBN: 3421057761


The Story

The story had deep connections with director Roman Polanski because he escaped from the Krakow Ghetto as a child after the death of his mother. He ended up living in a Polish farmer's barn until the war's end. His father almost died in the camps, but they reunited after the end of World War II.
Joseph Fiennes was Polanski's first choice for the lead role, but he turned it down due to a previous commitment to the theatre. Over 1,400 actors auditioned for the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman at a casting call in London. Unsatisfied with all who tried, director Roman Polanski sought to cast Adrien Brody, whom he saw as ideal for the role during their first meeting in Paris.
[edit] Filming
Principal photography on The Pianist began on February 9, 2001 in Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam, Germany. The Warsaw Ghetto and the surrounding city were recreated on the backlot of Babelsberg Studios as they would have looked during the war. Old Soviet army barracks were used to create the ruined city, as they were going to be destroyed anyway.
The first scenes of the film were shot at the old army barracks. Soon after, the filmmakers moved to a villa in Potsdam, which served as the house where Szpilman meets Hosenfeld. On March 2, 2001, filming then moved to an abandoned Soviet army hospital in Beelitz, Germany. The scenes that featured the Germans destroying the hospital with flame throwers were filmed here. On March 15, filming finally moved to Babelsberg Studios. The first scene shot at the studio was the scene in which Szpilman witnesses a resistance mounted by the Jews from the Ghetto, which is eventually ended by the Nazis. The scene was complex and technically demanding as it involved various stunts and explosives. Filming at the studios ended on 26 March and moved to Warsaw on 29 March. The rundown district of Praga was chosen for filming because of its abundance of original buildings. The art department built onto these original buildings, re-creating World War II–era Poland with signs and posters from the period. Additional filming also took place around Warsaw. The Umschlagplatz scene where Szpilman, his family and hundreds of other Jews wait to be taken to the extermination camps was filmed at the National Defence University in Warsaw.
Principal photography ended in July 2001, and was followed by months of post-production, which took place in Paris, France.
 

Trivia 

Adrien Brody lost 14 kg (31 lb) for the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman by eating a daily diet of two boiled eggs and green tea for breakfast, a little chicken for lunch, and a small piece of fish or chicken with steamed vegetables for dinner over a six week period. Initially his weight was 73 kg (161 lb). 

In order to connect with the feeling of loss required to play the role, Adrien Brody got rid of his apartment, sold his car, and didn't watch television. 

Over 1,400 actors auditioned for the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman at a casting call in London. Unsatisfied with all who tried, director Roman Polanski sought to cast Adrien Brody, who he saw as ideal for the role during their first meeting in Paris, around the time Brody was shooting The Affair of the Necklace (2001). 

Proceeds from the Amsterdam, Netherlands premiere were donated to the Anne Frank House. 

The scene in which Wladyslaw Szpilman is saved from going to the concentration camps and is told "Don't run!" is inspired by a similar event in director Roman Polanski's life. 

This is the first film ever to receive the Best Film Award at the Césars (France's national film award) with not a single word of French spoken in it. 

"Szpilman" sounds like the German word "Spielmann", meaning bandsman or minstrel, hence Hosenfeld's remark that it is a "good name for a pianist." 

Daniel Szpilman, the real grandson of the main character Wladyslaw Szpilman, plays the part of the boy in the ghetto (on the market place and later again on the Umschlagplatz). 

The film is based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman. The director Roman Polanski tried to make the film as faithful of an adaptation as possible, with additional inspiration coming from events that happened to him while he was a boy during the war. 

Adrien Brody became the youngest person to date to win an Academy Award for Best Actor when he won for this film at the age of 29. 

The music played for the German officer in the film was actually an edit of Frédéric Chopin's Ballade No.1 in G Minor, (Op. 23, No. 1). In real life, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin's Nocturne No.1 in C# Minor. 

A nuance for those who don't speak German: In general, the German officers use the informal version of "you" ("du," etc.) when talking to the Jews, which reflects their views (you wouldn't talk to adult strangers that way); however, Hosenfeld (the officer who discovers Wladyslaw Szpilman in hiding) always uses the proper formal form ("Sie," etc.) because of the way he personally feels. 

The music playing out of the truck toward the end of the film is the Polish National Anthem, which is why Wladyslaw Szpilman knows he is safe. 

The shots of the city in ruins was created in a town in Russia that was about to be demolished. The producers of the film were allowed to blow it up in order to get the authentic shots. 

The Music:

The piano piece heard at the beginning of the film is Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor Lento con gran espressione, Op. posth.

The piano piece that is heard being played a next door neighbour while Szpilman was in hiding at an apartment was Chopin's Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4.

The piano music heard in the abandoned house when Szpilman had just discovered a hiding place in the attic was the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. It would later be revealed that German officer Hosenfeld was the pianist. The German composition juxtaposed with the mainly Polish/Chopin selection of Szpilman.

The piano piece played when Szpilman is confronted by Hosenfeld is Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23. Also, the version played in the movie was shortened. The entire piece lasts 9–10 minutes.

The cello piece heard at the middle of the film, played by Dorota, is the Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1.

The piano piece heard at the end of the film, played with an orchestra, is Chopin's Grande Polonaise Brillante, Op. 22.

Shots of Szpilman's hands playing the piano in close-up were provided by Polish classical pianist Janusz Olejniczak (b. 1952), who also performed on the soundtrack.

Since Polanski wanted the film to be as realistic as possible, any scene showing Brody playing was actually his playing voiced over by recordings provided by Janusz Olejniczak. In order for Brody's playing to look like it was at the level of Władysław Szpilman's, he spent many months prior to and during the filming practicing so that his keystrokes on the piano would convince viewers that Brody himself was playing. It was never specified whether or not it was actually Adrien Brody playing at certain points in the film, such as the beginning where Władysław Szpilman's playing is interrupted by German bombing

 

Roman Polanski - Director 

Roman Polanski More at IMDbPro »


Date of Birth
18 August 1933, Paris, France

Birth Name
Rajmund Roman Liebling

Nickname
Romek

Height
5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Biography
Roman Polanski's parents returned to Poland from France just two years before the World War II began: both were taken later to concentration camps where his mother eventually died. Young Roman managed to escape the ghetto and learned to survive wandering through the Polish countryside and living with the different Catholic families. Though local people usually ignored cinemas where mostly German films were shown, Polanski seemed not very much concerned about patriotism and frequently went to the movies. In 1945, he reunited with his father who sent him to technical school, but young Polanski seemed to have already made his choice. In the 1950s, he took up acting, appearing in Andrzej Wajda's A Generation (1955) before studying at the Lodz Film School. His early shorts such as Dwaj ludzie z szafa (1958), The Fat and the Lean (1961), and Ssaki (1962) showed his taste for black humor and interest in bizarre human relationships. His feature debut, Knife in the Water (1962), was the first Polish post-war film not associated with the war theme. Though being already a major Polish filmmaker, Polanski yet chose to leave the country and headed to France. Being down-and-out in Paris, he befriended young scriptwriter, Gérard Brach, who eventually became his long-time collaborator. The next two films, Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-sac (1966), made in England and co-written by Brach, won respectively Silver and Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festivals. In 1968, Polanski went to Hollywood, where he made the psychological thriller Rosemary's Baby (1968). However, after the brutal murder of his wife Sharon Tate by the infamous Manson gang in 1969, the director decided to return to Europe. In 1974, he again appeared with a US release of Chinatown (1974). It seemed the beginning of the promising Hollywood career, but after his conviction for the statutory rape of a 13-year old girl, Polanski fled from America to avoid prison. After Tess (1979), which was awarded several Oscars and Cesars, his work became intermittent and rarely approached the level of his better known films. The director also stretched his talents to include occasional work in theatre. He still likes to act in the films of other directors, sometimes with interesting results as it was in A Pure Formality (1994).
IMDb Mini Biography By: Yuri German

Spouse
Emmanuelle Seigner
(30 August 1989 - present) 2 children
Sharon Tate
(20 January 1968 - 9 August 1969) (her death)
Barbara Lass
(19 September 1959 - 1962) (divorced)

Trade Mark
Likes to arrange shots from the protagonist's perspective and slowly pan around the room to points of interest as the character notices them.
By the end of his films, the protagonist often meets an uncertain, melancholic future ("The Ninth Gate", "The Ghostwriter", "Rosemary's Baby", "Chinatown", "Macbeth")

Trivia
Has not been back to the United States since 1978.
He was convicted of the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl and fled to Europe to escape incarceration.
After Polanski fled from the American justice, the judge on his case swore to have him behind the bars. Though the judge died in 1989, the director still can't enter the US; otherwise, he would be arrested.
In 1969, while he was on out-of-town business, his wife, actress Sharon Tate was brutally murdered by members of Charles Manson's cult family; though Manson only ordered the killing and was not present during the murders. She was eight-months pregnant with their first child at the time. He has said that his life's biggest regret was not being present at the house on Cielo Drive, Beverly Hills the night his wife Sharon Tate and four others were brutally murdered.
Two children with Emmanuelle Seigner: Morgane and Elvis.
Shortly before her murder, wife Sharon Tate gave Polanski a copy of Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel "Tess of the d'Urbervilles", and he planned to film it with her. When he finally made the movie Tess (1979), he dedicated it to her.
Roman and his father are Holocaust survivors. His father was Jewish, and his half-Jewish mother (who was murdered in Auschwitz) had been raised as a Roman Catholic.
Received his first best director Oscar for the movie The Pianist (2002) five months after the awards ceremony. His friend, Harrison Ford, flew to France to present Polanski the award, since the director would be immediately arrested and incarcerated due to outstanding warrants stemming from his fleeing the US after his 1978 statutory rape conviction to avoid imprisonment. [8 September 2003].
Won the Best Director Oscar in 2003 for The Pianist (2002) at the age of 69 years and 7 months, making him the oldest person ever to win that award to that point in time. Polanski eclipsed the record previously held by George Cukor, who was 65 when he won for directing My Fair Lady (1964). This record was beaten in 2005 when Clint Eastwood won at the age of 74 for Million Dollar Baby (2004).
Within the Hollywood industry in the late 60s and early 70s he was often mocked as the stereotypical short, tyrannical European director.
Was voted the 26th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Was one of the judges in the Miss Universe pageant in 1976.
When he fled from the U.S. in the late 70s, much was made about the director's inability to ever make films in the States again. However, Polanski only shot 2 films in the States prior to his arrest: Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974) were shot in North America. All other English-language films before the arrest were shot in the UK, and all the ones since have been shot in Central Europe.
President of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991
Is portrayed by Marek Probosz in Helter Skelter (2004) (TV).
Polanski was born Rajmund Roman Liebling in Paris, France, the son of Bula (née Katz-Przedborska) and Ryszard Liebling (aka Ryszard Polanski), who was a painter and plastics manufacturer. His father was a Polish Jew and his mother, a native of Russia, was brought up as a Catholic as she had a Jewish father and a Roman Catholic mother.
He was due to have directed "The Double," a modern-day, comedic adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel about a man whose life is taken over by his doppelganger. John Travolta, who was being paid $17m, was to have played the lead, alongside Isabelle Adjani, John Goodman, and Jean Reno. Shooting was to have begun in May 1996 in Paris. Lili Fini Zanuck and Todd Black were producing, Jeremy Leven had written the screenplay and other personnel such as director of photography Robert Richardson and production designer Pierre Guffroy were in place. Just nine days before principal photography was scheduled to start, and with around $15m already spent, Travolta flew back to US following an argument with Polanski. Travolta claimed that the screenplay had been significantly altered compared with the one he had signed up for. Following Travolta's departure, Steve Martin was quickly hired to replace him, but Isabelle Adjani said she was only prepared to work with Travolta, and she, too, left the film. The project collapsed shortly afterwards.
According to his autobiography, producer Robert Evans initially wanted Roman Polanski to direct Sliver (1993). Since Polanski will not return to the United States, Evans planned on having a second unit director shoot some footage of New York, whilst Polanski would direct the film in Paris.
Was offered the chance to direct King Kong (1976) but turned it down.
In November 1989 he was approached by Warner Bros to adapt and direct Mikhail A. Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita. The project was subsequently dropped by Warners due to budgetary concerns and the studio's belief that the subject matter was no longer relevant due to the fall of the Berlin wall. Polanski has described his script as the best he has ever adapted.
Directed four actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Ruth Gordon, Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and Adrien Brody. Gordon and Brody won Oscars for their performance in one of his movies.
In February 2007 it was announced that Polanski would direct a $130m adaptation of Robert Harris' novel Pompeii. Orlando Bloom and Scarlett Johansson were rumoured to be starring, but in September 2007 he left the project due to concerns over the threatened Screen Actors Guild strike.

Personal Quotes
Normal love isn't interesting. I assure you that it's incredibly boring.
My films are the expression of momentary desires. I follow my instincts, but in a disciplined way.
[On filmmaking] "You have to show violence the way it is. If you don't show it realistically, then that's immoral and harmful. If you don't upset people, then that's obscenity."
[On his style of filmmaking] "I don't really know what is shocking. When you tell the story of a man who is beheaded, you have to show how they cut off his head. If you don't, it's like telling a dirty joke and leaving out the punch line."
The best films are because of nobody but the director.
I can only say that whatever my life and work have been, I'm not envious of anyone, and this is my biggest satisfaction.
Whenever I get happy, I always have a terrible feeling.
Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater.
I never made a film which fully satisfied me.
In Paris, one is always reminded of being a foreigner. If you park your car wrong, it is not the fact that it's on the sidewalk that matters, but the fact that you speak with an accent.
[On François Truffaut, Claude Lelouch, and Jean-Luc Godard] People like Truffaut, Lelouch and Godard are like little kids playing at being revolutionaries. I've passed through this stage. I lived in a country where these things happened seriously.
Every failure made me more confident. Because I wanted even more to achieve as revenge. To show that I could.
Every film I make represents a departure for me. You see, it takes so long to make a film. By the time you get to the next one you're already a different man. You've grown up by one or two years.
[To the press after the murder of his wife Sharon Tate in 1969] ...All of you know how beautiful she was, but few of you know how good she was.
Hollywood is like that: a spoiled brat that screams for possession of a toy and then tosses it out of the baby buggy.
I would never think of doing a movie for children if I did not have any. A lot of things in the film I know about. I relate to all the sufferings much more now that I have kids. I see it from the outside now. And before, I didn't. Children have this capacity for resistance, and they accept things as they are, maybe because they have no other reference. They are somehow more flexible; they adapt much faster than adults.
I am not a fortune teller. I would like to be judged for my work, and not for my life. If there is any possibility of changing your destiny, it may be only in your creative life, certainly not in your life, period.
A lot has changed for me. My life has improved. It's not only children, but the relationship with my wife is the best thing that ever happened to me.
First comes my love of my work [in movies], but secondary to the creation itself is the need to get laid.
[on Jack Nicholson] Jack! You see how angry he gets in a scene? Unbelievably scary! He can not stop, he goes into a kind of it, you dunno whether he is acting any more!
[on Harrison Ford] Often when Harrison read a line, it was a different reading than I anticipated, but it worked. Somehow, it was more inspiring or original than what I had in mind.
[on Faye Dunaway] She was a gigantic pain in the ass. She demonstrated certifiable proof of insanity.
You make films for people, so you enjoy it when it's a success. Who wants an empty theatre? But you can't think of that when you're doing it because you have to satisfy your own artistic taste, and not trying to extrapolate it, asking whether they're going to like it or not, because it doesn't work this way, unfortunately.