Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski is one of the most infamous filmmaker currently working in Hollywood know for his dark and haunting movies.

He is back in the big screen this week with his new movie The Ghost, an adaptation of Robert Harris' novel of the same name, it's his first movie since 2007's To Each His Own Cinema.

Polanski attended the National Film School in Lódz, where he juggled both acting and directing. He appeared in Pokolenie in the mid fifties before making his directorial debut with short film Rower, a semi autobiographical film.

During his schooling he made several short films including Two Men and a Wardrobe and When Angels Fall, which starred his first wife Barbara Lass.

His first feature length movie came in 1963 in the form of Knife in the Water, which established him as a major talent.

The action takes place almost entirely within the confined setting of a sailboat owned by a wealthy journalist (Leon Niemczyk) and his much younger wife (Jolanta Umecka).

On their way to the lake for a weekend of sailing, they are accosted by a young hitchhiker (Zygmunt Malanowicz) who jumps in front of their car, forcing them to stop.

Annoyed by the youth's daredevil posturing, the journalist nevertheless decides to invite him to join the couple on their boat, initiating a series of playfully competitive games between the two men.

Playfulness soon gives way to hostility, however, as each tries to outshine and humiliate the other in front of the woman, who appears to be taking a more than casual interest in her husband's young rival.

Despite not being very well received in his native Poland it was a huge success with western audiences and the movie went on to be nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film.

Throughout the sixties he moved more into tEnglish movies as he went on to make Repulsion, Cul-de-Sac and The Fearless Vampire Killers.

But it was 1968 that brought him more major success as he made horror movie Rosemary's Baby, based on the best selling novel by Ira Levin.

The movie was a huge critical and commercial success and it is still widely regarded a a classic in the horror movie genre.

However just as major success came his way as tragedy struck when his pregnant wife Sharon Tate was brutally murdered in 1979.

More success came his way in 1974 when he teamed up with actor Jack Nicholson for Chinatown, an neo-noir movie.

Set in drought-ridden '30s L.A., a divorce specializing private detective gets his nose rearranged after sticking it into the connivings of a family-loving mogul and his mysterious daughter.

The movie was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture, it went on to win Best Original Screenplay for Robert Towne.

He moved back to Paris for his next film The Tennant before adapting Tess of the d'Urbervilles in 1979.

Tess earnt Polanski yet more Oscar nominations as it picked up Best Director and Best Picture, but was once again denied.

Despite continuing to make movies throughout the nineties with the likes of Bitter Moon and The Ninth Gate it was 2002 when he finally got his hands on an Oscar.

And it came for the critically acclaimed The Pianist, which starred Adrien Brody. The movie was an adaptation based on the autobiography of the acclaimed Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who detailed his survival during World War II, and narrowly escaped a roundup that sent his family to a death camp.

A composer and pianist, Szpilman played the last live music heard over Polish radio airwaves before Nazi artillery hit.

There, in Poland, Szpilman struggled to stay alive, even when cast away from those he loved. He spent the duration of the war hiding in the ruins of Warsaw and scavenging for food and shelter.

Szpilman eventually reclaimed his artistic gifts, and confronted his fears, with aid from the unlikeliest of sources.

The movie was a hue critical success when it was released and picked up seven Academy Award nominations.

Polanski picked up Best Director, Adrien Brody won Best Actor and Ronald Harwood won Best Adapted Screenplay, the film missed out on Best Picture.

But since his 2002 the director has worked sparingly adapting Oliver Twist in 2002 and filming To Each His Own Cinema in 2007.

But The Ghost brings together Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor in a movie that follows a ghostwriter hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.

The Ghost is out now.

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw


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