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excerpt from interview with Roman Polanski - click on Dutch flag for source text

Translated for IFA

Prior to my meeting with Roman Polanski I was informed in friendly yet ironclad terms that it would be undesirable for me to discuss his turbulent past and all the macabre events that have attended his life. The French-Polish director is fed up with being questioned about the horrific Manson murder of his wife Sharon Tate and about his conviction for sex with a minor in the United States, where they threw him in jail for 42 days, then exiled him from the country. Nor does he want to discuss all the wave-making relationships that gossip magazines tend to cater to their readers with. It was remarkable that his terrible childhood during the second World War was not on the list of taboo subjects. I did not consider these restrictions a problem, as these topics are all ably covered in diverse biographies and an autobiography too. So I responded by saying I especially wanted to speak with Monsieur Polanski about his artistic achievements, which by now number fifteen movies, among them a handful of outright classics, a couple of operas and countless plays. I was sure such a conversation would perforce reveal more about the other sides of the man anyway. I was not to be disappointed.


The diminutive, wiry director, who doesn't look anywhere near his 66 years of age, is in an excited mood. "I am always very excited right before the release of one of my movies," he explains to me, "I would even dare say it is the moment that is most fulfilling to me, because this is when I discover what I have wanted to do. I can watch the movie in a relaxed mood, without being irritated." I cannot resist taking advantage of his good humour by referring to his list of taboos. His small ironic eyes pierce right through me. Then he tells me in a speech, punctuated with salvos of laughter but also containing sad undertones, that he has learned to live with the nauseating, distorted image the media have created of his life: "I was treated so harshly you have to wonder if they honestly think I have no sensibility whatsoever. Well, I need not say more than that since the war years where as a child, deserted by my parents, I tried to alleviate my loneliness and pain by submerging myself in the reading of books, I have continually known moments of total despair. Especially after Sharon's death, which brought an abrupt end to what was the happiest time of my life, I frequently considered taking my own life. I had no need at all any more to continue living. But it always passes, because at my birth I was given an enormous will to survive and a great physical constitution. But now, let's talk about my movie, and don't start by asking why on earth I had to pick once again a subject with demonic overtones!"

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