Tag Archives | Roman Polanski

“Hollywood Has the Best Moral Compass,

because it has compassion…. We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe.” So says studio co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, as quoted by the L.A. Times. Well, all right then. From now, I’ll just defer to the movie industry for all my moral judgments. Because, you know, all those telethons.

Thanks to Patterico and InstaPundit for the pointer. […]

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He Says “Scary” Like It’s a Bad Thing

The Chicago Tribune reports:

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand was quoted in French media as saying, “In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face.”

The law is supposed to be scary to criminals — and the law’s persistence, over the span of decades, is scarier still, but rightly so. People shouldn’t be able to evade justice by fleeing to a hospitable jurisdiction. Sometimes they in fact can, because of various legal restraints on extradition. But if they slip up and fall outside the protection of those regimes, justice should indeed pursue them, and in the process scare others into realizing that justice is not easy to avoid.

Conversely, generosity here would be a misplaced generosity. The only person who rightly deserves generosity is the victim, who understandably doesn’t want a fresh outbreak of publicity. Some victims are emotionally helped by the punishment of those who victimize them, but others might on balance be hurt by it. And indeed this risk is usually greater many decades later, when the satisfaction of knowing that the person who harmed you is being punished is generally less, and the worry about renewed unwanted publicity is the same or even greater.

But we also need to think about not just generosity but also the simple debt we owe to other potential victims, to do what we can to prevent such crimes in the future — both by deterring potential victimizers and by reinforcing the norm that even fame, money, and talent shouldn’t protect one against punishment. And generosity to Polanski? It’s hard to see why he is a fitting target for generosity. Some say he has suffered enough; and without doubt he has paid a cost. Practical […]

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Roman Polanski, George Orwell, and Salvador Dali

When I was running university film societies in the 1970s and early 1980s, I considered Roman Polanski’s Chinatown the best film made in the 1970s. I don’t know what I would think today because I haven’t seen it for three decades. And I still consider Rosemary’s Baby one of the best horror movies ever made.

I mention this because good artists are not necessarily good people and bad people are not necessarily bad artists.

The first writer I encountered who explored this issue was George Orwell in his essay on Dali. The essay is also memorable because its second sentence contains one of Orwell’s most resonant ideas: “any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.”


Notes on Dali

George Orwell

Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats. However, even the most flagrantly dishonest book (Frank Harris’s autobiographical writings are an example) can without intending it give a true picture of its author. Dali’s recently published Life [The Secret Life of Salvador Dali (The Dial Press, 1942)] comes under this heading. Some of the incidents in it are flatly incredible, others have been rearranged and romanticised, and not merely the humiliation but the persistent ordinariness of everyday life has been cut out. Dali is even by his own diagnosis narcissistic, and his autobiography is simply a strip-tease act conducted in pink limelight. But as a record of fantasy, of the perversion of instinct that has been made possible by the machine age, it has great value.

Here, then, are some of the episodes in Dali’s life, from his earliest years onward. Which of them

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