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Costas Gavras on Roman Polanski
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-10-01 07:50:26
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Roman Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland has left me with a lot of questions and confusion. I have been following the news in international media since it happened, not to see if he is guilty or innocent, but because I’m confused with the reactions. What motivated me to write this article was an announcement from a compatriot, the known director Costas Gavras.

Costas Gavras is a known activist and his film “Z” with Yves Montand is a classic, a hymn to the fight against dictators and dictatorships. Films like “Missing” with Jack Lemon and “Mad City” with Dustin Hoffman added to his reputation of a person aware and sensitive to how society feels about injustice and the harassment of power given even to celebrities. This is why I was surprised by his announcement of full support for Roman Polanski.

First things first; Roman Polanski is guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl thirty years ago. Polanski is an international figure, known for his political ideas and his reactions to American politics internationally. But that doesn’t make him innocent of a crime that has nothing to do with his activism or work as an artist, has it? The newspapers are full of news with “monsters” – apparently that’s how they call them – who rape little kids. So what’s the difference with Polanski? And why would people like Costas Gavras risk his reputation to defend him? I’m sorry, but I don’t understand it.

The same thing happened a few months ago, with Phil Spector, when tens of celebrities and known figures of art started supporting him and witnessing his good character and his sensitivity. But the man had killed a woman in cold blood and he should be punished for his crime. And this is where my surprise gets even bigger – all these artists who stand by Spector or now Polanski; aren’t they sensitive towards the thirteen year-old? Or is it because she is now a grown-up? Is it different because she is a woman with kids and family?

Is like in the case of Michael Jackson; the child molester who media literally ate alive, became a saint after death? A few years ago Peter Townsend’s name was everywhere, not because of his music but because the police had raided his house and found child pornography in his computers, and then…. nothing! Absolutely nothing, nobody has said a word since. Was he guilty, was he innocent? Absolutely nothing. On the same time people demand to know the names of child molesters, and rightly so, and they expect the state to do something about them. But Roman Polanski this minute enjoys the support of celebrities and art icons. So the rape of a child or any rape is excused when you are a known activist and famous director?

In his Oscar awarded film “Z”, Costas Gavras describes the unbelievable fight of an unknown investigative judge to find a murderer. The man has to fight against a dictatorship that threatens his life constantly and he is in danger of losing everything, not only his life but everybody he loves. He still does it, following his ethic! But Roman Polanski is apparently different. Do you know what I hate even more? Polanski’s, and his supporters’ eagerness to find some kind of political motivation behind his arrest. Oddly Costas Gavras accuses the state in his films, and the people in power of hypocrisy, but in this case he is the man of power and he acts hypocritically.

These were just some thoughts and I feel more disappointed with Costas Gavras than I feel about Roman Polanski. I think that Polanski has to pay for his crime, and doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate his directing work.


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Emanuel Paparella2009-10-01 09:54:51
Indeed, but in the final analysis it is not that complicated. What we see at work with Costas Graves and other personalities and celebrities of Hollywood’s far left political fringe (the Sean Penn type…) is the cult of personality and celebrities dictating that celebrities without a coherent idea in their head ought to be taken seriously when they pontificate on “political correctness” simply for whom they are. Enter Charles Manson: he too feels that he has the status of a celebrity of sort and remain uncomprehending as to why he is in jail. He assumes no individual or personal responsibility for his crimes, for he believes with Rousseau that man is born innocent and then society corrupts him. If anything it is society that is guilty. He puts a mirror before the hypocrisy of a society that believes in cultural relativism and moral duality (a convenient private morality as distinct from a self-serving public morality, a la Berlusconi) and that is why we find him fascinating and grant him an interview every year… I am afraid that the same applies to Polansky. They are the monsters that makes us ordinary people feel morally good and normal, but as Derrida warned us: monsters ought not be names and domesticated or they will become our pets..

Emanuel Paparella2009-10-01 09:57:46
Errata: Gavras, Polanski, remains, named.

Zed2009-10-01 15:20:49
If there was actually a hell, Polanski deserves to be there. Or and getting sodomized by large inmates at the state penn. That would work to.

Thanos2009-10-01 19:27:16
From the news, today:
"The French government has dropped its public support for Roman Polanski, saying the 76-year-old director "is neither above nor beneath the law".
The move follows a backlash against a campaign for Polanski's release, with several leading European politicians and cultural figures refusing to join."

an ex-fan of Gavras2009-10-02 01:23:54
One remembers Music Box, where in the climax, Ann Talbot (Jessica Lange) after learning that her father (Armin Mueller-Stahl) was a Nazi, sends the evidence to the prosecutor to send her father to jail.

What did Gavras do? The answer is hypocrisy as you correctly put it.

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