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Prominent Poles

Roman Raymond Polański (born Rajmund Roman Liebling) Polish-Jewish-French film director, actor, Oscar winner

Photo of Roman Polanski,film director

Born:  August 18, 1933, Paris, France

Early days. Father Ryszard Polanski, a Polish Jew, mother, Bula Polanska (nee Katz) Half Jewish half Catholic. Because of growing anti-semitism in France, the family moved back to Poland in 1937. In 1939, after Nazi invasion, the Polanski family was forced into the Cracow Ghetto, along with thousands of other Polish Jews. Roman Polański's mother subsequently died in Auschwitz concentration camp; his father barely survived the Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen-Gusen in Austria. Polański himself escaped the Cracow Ghetto, and survived the war with the help of a Polish farmer. He was educated at the film school in Łódź, Poland, from which he graduated in 1959. Polański speaks six languages: Polish, Russian, English, French, Spanish, and Italian. Several short films made during the study gained considerable recognition.

Beginning of the career. His first major film Knife in the Water (1962) was the first significant Polish film after the war that was not associated with the war theme. It was Polański's first nomination for the Oscar. Polański then made films in the United Kingdom: Repulsion (1965), a tale of madness and alienation; Cul-de-Sac (1966) tells the story of a couple living on a remote island, who are visited by two gangsters. The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) is a combination of comedy and horror. Next came Hollywood’s Rosemary's Baby (1968). Polanski is also known for his tumultuous personal life. In 1968 he married the actress Sharon Tate who was murdered in 1969 by the members of Charles Manson’s “Family.” She was eight months pregnant. Also in 1969, Polański lost friend and collaborator Krzysztof Komeda . Komeda had been a popular jazz artist in Poland when the director first approached him to score a short film. He went on to score almost all of Polański's feature films until a head injury resulted in the composer's premature death. Polański's next feature was a film version of Macbeth (1971). This was followed by What? (1972), a surreal comedy about a young woman. Chinatown (1974), starring Jack Nicholson, is a tale of corruption in pre-war Los Angeles. Polański took the lead in his next film, The Tenant (1976), the story of a Polish immigrant living in Paris. In 1978, after pleading guilty to having sexual relations with a 13 year old girl, Polanski fled to France, where he retained citizenship. Like many countries, France refuses to extradite its own citizens, which is consistent with the extradition treaty between France and the United States. As a consequence, Polański has since avoided visits to countries that were likely to extradite him, such as the United Kingdom, mostly traveling between France and Poland.

Later career. Unwilling to return to the United States and face arrest, he has continued to direct films in Europe. He received another Academy Award nomination for Tess (1979, dedicated to Sharon Tate). Pirates (1986), a lavish period piece, was a commercial and critical failure. This was followed by Frantic (1988), which features actress and model Emmanuelle Seigner, whom the director married in 1989. She starred in others of his films including Bitter Moon, in 1992, and The Ninth Gate (1999). They have two children: Morgane and Elvis. In 1997 he directed a stage version of The Fearless Vampire Killers, a musical. In May 2002, Polański won the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes Film Festival for The Pianist, for which he also later won the 2002 Academy Award for Directing. He did not attend the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood, because he still faces sentencing and possible prison time if he enters the United States. In 2004 he received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. During the summer and autumn of 2004, Polański shot a new film adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel Oliver. In 2004, Polański sued Vanity Fair magazine in London for libel and was awarded £50,000 damages by the High Court in London. A recurring theme in his work is the relationship between victim and predator (Death and The Maiden, Bitter Moon, Cul-de-Sac, Rosemary's Baby). His films depict a world that is cruel, grotesque and filled with brutal sex and dark humor.

Filmography Oliver Twist (2005) The Pianist (2002) The Ninth Gate (1999) Death and the Maiden (1994) Bitter Moon (1992) Frantic (1988) Pirates (1986) Tess (1979) Le locataire (aka The Tenant) (1976) Chinatown (1974) What? (aka Diary of Forbidden Dreams) (1973) Macbeth (1971) Rosemary's Baby (1968) The Fearless Vampire Killers (aka Dance of the Vampires) (1967) Cul-de-Sac (1966) Repulsion (1965) Les plus beaux du monde(aka The Beautiful Swindlers) (1964) Nóż w wodzie (aka Knife in the Water) (1962) Ssaki (aka Mammals) (1962) Le gros et le maigre, (aka The Fat and the Lean) (1961) Gdy spadają anioly (aka When Angels Fall Down) (1959) Lampa (aka The Lamp) (1959) Dwaj ludzie z szafą (aka Two Men and a Wardrobe) — a short film (1958) Morderstwo (aka A Murderer) (1957) Rozbijemy zabawę (aka Break Up the Dance) (1957) Uśmiech zębiczny (aka A Toothful Smile) (1957) Rower (aka Bicycle) (1955)

Source: This article uses, among others, material from the Wikipedia article "Roman Polanski" licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. :

Other sources:
IMDB- includes full filmography, photos etc.

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