Many people are probably familiar with Polanski’s work. He has been the director of films spanning from ROSEMARY’S BABY to THE PIANIST and more recently CARNAGE.
Born in Paris to Polish parents on August 18, 1933. He eventually moved back to Poland when he was young but has directed films in many different countries. He survived the Holocaust and was educated in Poland.
Polanski’s fascination with cinema began very early, when he was around age four or five.
Even as a child, I always loved cinema and was thrilled when my parents would take me before the war. Then we were put into the ghetto in Krakòw and there was no cinema, but the Germans often showed newsreels to the people outside the ghetto, on a screen in the market place.
After the war, he watched films, either at school or at a local cinema, using whatever pocket money he had. Polanski writes, “Most of this went on the movies, but movie seats were dirt cheap, so a little went a long way. I lapped up every kind of film.”As time went on, movies became more than an escape into entertainment.
Movies were becoming an absolute obsession with me. I was enthralled by everything connected with the cinema — not just the movies themselves but the aura that surrounded them. I loved the luminous rectangle of the screen, the sight of the beam slicing through the darkness from the projection booth, the miraculous synchronization of sound and vision, even the dusty smell of the tip-up seats. More than anything else, though I was fascinated by the actual mechanics of the process
Film educated followed at the National Film School in Poland. His first feature-length film KNIFE IN THE WATER was nominated for an academy award in 1962. He directed three films in the UK, starting with REPULSION. This film is now considered one of the most terrifying psychological thrillers that has surpassed time. In 1969 Polanski’s wife was murdered by members of the Manson family while staying at his home in Los Angeles. This triggered him to make more successful films in America, namely CHINATOWN which was nominated for eleven Academy Awards. In 1977, after a photo shoot in Los Angeles, Polanski was arrested for the rape of a 13-year-old girl and pleaded guilty to the charge of unlawful sex with a minor. To avoid sentencing, Polanski fled to his home in London. During an interview for a later film documentary, he offered his apology to the woman, and later said that he had regretted that episode for the last 33 years.
He went on to create films such as THE PIANIST AND CARNAGE among others.
Polanski’s style is representative of surrealist and noir work. He had a great influence on surrealist cinema and many of the films are heavily psychological. Polanski has inspired directors such as Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Darren Aronofsky, and Wes Craven, among others.