A very famous yet polarizing writer, director, producer, and actor whose own life story is just as fascinating (and depressing) as his films. During his childhood in Poland, his parents were sent to concentration camps by the Nazis and he became a drifter, traveling the country and staying with various families while also supporting himself by acting in local stage shows. He gained acclaim for films like Knife In The Water and Repulsion, and began a successful Hollywood career. While going far outside his usual material directing and starring in the horror parody The Fearless Vampire Killers, he fell in love with his co-star Sharon Tate and they were married soon after. Just two years later, Tate was murdered by the Charles Manson family just weeks away from the birth of their first child, while Polanski was making a film in Europe. Never a very sunny filmmaker, his movies naturally became even grimmer after this, and he even managed to make a film of Macbeth even darker than Shakespeare's original.
Another turning point came in 1977. Polanski pleaded guilty to the rape of 13-year-old Samantha Geimer in his friend Jack Nicholson's house, but soon afterward fled the country and took up residence in France. Unable to enter any countries with an extradition agreement with America, he continued making films but rarely equaled his earlier success, due to a combination of bad luck and people being unwilling to invest in films with a fugitive child rapist's name on them. In 2002 Polanski won a Best Director Academy Award for The Pianist, which had to be delivered to him by Harrison Ford, star of his film Frantic. In 2005 the American arrest warrant on him became an international one, and in 2009 he was finally arrested on it (while at a ceremony to accept an another award) and had to finish post-production on his newest film The Ghost Writer from prison.
After spending several months under house arrest in Switzerland awaiting extradition to the USA, the Swiss government announced in July 2010 that they were turning down the extradition request after apparently coming across problems with the request and considering "national interests"; he is now free once again.
1957: Morderstwo (A Murderer)
1957: Uśmiech zębiczny (A Toothful Smile)
1957: Rozbijemy zabawę (Break Up The Dance)
1958: Dwaj ludzie z szafą (Two Men And A Wardrobe)
1959: Lampa (The Lamp)
1959: Gdy spadają anioły (When Angels Fall)
1961: Le Gros et le maigre (The Fat And The Lean)\\ 1961: Ssaki (Mammals)
1962: Nóż w wodzie (Knife In The Water)
1964: Les plus belles escroqueries du monde (The Beautiful Swindlers)
1965: Repulsion (first English-language movie)
1966: Cul De Sac
1967: The Fearless Vampire Killers
1968: Rosemary's Baby
1973: What? (Also known as Diary Of Forbidden Dreams)
1976: Le Locataire (The Tenant)
1992: Bitter Moon
1994: Death And The Maiden
1999: The Ninth Gate
2002: The Pianist
2005: Oliver Twist
2007: To Each His Own Cinema
2010: The Ghost Writer
Tropes That Apply To This Filmmaker:
- Dark and Troubled Past: He's a Holocaust survivor, and his misfortunes didn't end there.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Accused the lawyers and judges that prosecuted him of being "jealous" that they can't have sex with teenage girls.
- May-December Romance: With late wife Sharon Tate (ten years her senior), girlfriend Nastassja Kinski (he was 43, she was around 15 or 16), and current wife Emmanuelle Seigner (33 years her senior).
- Money, Dear Boy: He admitted to making Repulsion (a racy horror flick about a woman's fear of men driving her insane) solely to have enough money to make Cul-de-sac.
- Pastiche: The video for Scissor Sisters' song "Invisible Light" is an homage to Polanski's 60s films, particularly Repulsion.
- Shiksa Goddess: Polanski married the stunningly gorgeous and not-at-all Jewish Sharon Tate.
His films contain examples of:
- Creator Breakdown: See Downer Ending below.
- Downer Ending: This tendency became even more pronounced after Sharon Tate's murder, with Chinatown as one of the most famous examples.