The Corner

Re: Polanski Free

The weird soupiness of small-print eurospeak was spilled all over yesterday’s Swiss court decision, previewed by Daniel Foster here, announcing Roman Polanski’s freedom from the nightmare of a house-arrest in Gstaad. It’s not just that he wasn’t warned that he might be arrested, Daniel, it’s also a matter of some kind of principle. The NY Times’ blog-report:

The reason for the decision lies in the fact that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the U.S. extradition request, although the issue was thoroughly examined. Moreover, also the principles of State action deriving from international public order were taken into account.

What does that mean? Well you might ask. Anyway, the Times also has what they consider to be the moral (and a collateral beneficiary) of this story:

Monday’s decision by the Swiss was presumably a boost for Marina Zenovich, a documentary filmmaker whose “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” brought the case to new prominence in 2008 by airing interviews in which prosecutors and others described Judge Rittenband’s claimed missteps.

Ms. Levenson said prosecutors and judges who have handled the case in recent years appear to have acted correctly, but that clearly was not sufficient in this case.

“The lesson may be that it’s really hard to go back in time 30 years to remedy a case,” Ms. Levenson said. “If you don’t get justice at the right time, you may not get it at all.”

Take that, Wiesenthal. French Elle, which is the go-to for this kind of stuff, reports news of the liberation sweeping a joyful Paris last night. Bernard-Henri Levy declared himself to be positively mad with happiness and joined foreign minister Bernard Kouchner’s delight to hail the end of what Polanski’s wife called “a nightmare for my children and myself that lasted more than nine months.”

But Bill Zwecker, at the Chicago Sun-Times, reports soundproofing in Hollywood:

By early evening there were no statements in support of Polanski from longtime friends Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Woody Allen, Darren Aronofsky, Pedro Almodovar, Terry Gilliam or Tilda Swinton — all of whom had openly stated their support for Polanski last year. The director has been a fugitive since fleeing sentencing for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

A spokesman for one of Polanski’s best friends in Hollywood explained that what he called the ‘’strong but silent support” was due to the negative reaction artists received after ”going pro-Polanski very publicly” last September.

”Many of those stars and directors were widely attacked by pundits and others — with threats of boycotts for their films, and so forth,” said the Hollywood insider. ”After all, no matter that Polanski is a genius and an artist, many people cannot get over the fact he was a 43-year-old man who raped and sodomized a 13-year-old girl.”

Oh, right, there’s that. Or maybe they just go to bed early in Hollywood. Let’s see what happens later today once the protein smoothies have done their work.

Call it a hunch, but if Polanski had been Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malibu in 1977, this all might have ended differently.

Denis Boyles — Dennis Boyles is a writer, editor, former university lecturer, and the author/editor of several books of poetry, travel, history, criticism, and practical advice, including Superior, Nebraska (2008), Design Poetics (1975), ...

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