Roman Polanski has always been a controversial figure, and never more so than in 1977 when we was accused of the rape of a 13 year old girl. Even by Polanski’s standards this seemed extreme. The media went into a feeding frenzy, here was a ‘celebrity’ that already had a history, Polanski had first entered their gun sights 8 years previous when his wife Sharon Tate had been brutally murdered.

Charged with the following counts: furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, committing a lewd or lascivious act on a child, unlawful sexual intercourse, rape by use of drugs, perversion and sodomy. Less than a year later, on February 1, 1978, Polanski drove to LAX, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and never came back!

Although this all happened 30 years ago the case still elicits great interest.

Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired takes a retrospective look at the bizarre world of this bizarre man.

What is fascinating is the difference between how the US and European press clashed on the story. Europe viewed Polanski almost as a tragic victim, whereas the US media treated him like the devil incarnate.

HBO have done a great job of marrying together archival press footage together with modern interviews. It also sheds some new light into the case. Did Polanski get short changed by the judicial system? Certainly there is a case to be made that Judge Laurence J. Rittenband was less than fair in some of his decisions, in fact it looked almost like a vindictive streak against Polanski.You decide.

You can catch Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired on HBO at 9PM on Monday June/2.

Simon Barrett

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