Wednesday, December 09, 2009

# Posted 6:17 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

POLANSKI'S ART: Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I finally had the chance to watch Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning film, The Pianist. It isn't the story of Polanski's own survival, although it seems natural to conclude that Polanski was able to evoke the Holocaust so effectively because he lived through it himself. He lost his mother to Auschwitz and survived in hiding with a Polish family.

Before Polanski's arrest, I didn't know much about his conviction for sex with a minor. For some reason, I thought he was tried for a consensual statutory violation. Nor did I realize he was convicted.

Knowing this much about the director forcibly changed my perception of the film. The suffering is so intense that you get lost in the film, only to wake up suddenly and wonder how a man who knows suffering so intimately could perpetrate such cruelty on a 13-year-old girl.

The answer to that question is found partly in the film. Victims of the Holocaust are often portrayed as noble and stoic. Yet Polanski also shows how the Nazis' brutality dehumanized and debased their victims, so that many of them committed acts as disgusting as those of their oppressors.

Yet Polanski understood that, too.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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