By John H. Foote
The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has rescinded the membership of controversial director Roman Polanski, citing his crime of statutory rape from which he fled sentencing in the seventies.
Here is my quandary.
In 2002, that same Academy awarded Polanski the Academy Award for Best Director for The Pianist (2002). So does the award get taken back too? Do they hand that Oscar to whoever finished second? Let us be clear, Polanski was a popular winner in 2002, his much admired film had placed the director on the world stage again. The ovation when his name was announced could not be denied, he had a lot of friends in that audience.
After a Hollywood career that saw him direct critically acclaimed films such as Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Macbeth (1971) and the extraordinary Chinatown (1974); after his parents were lost in the Holocaust, he suffered further tragedy when his beautiful wife Sharon Tate was butchered by members of the Manson family, throwing the director into deep despair.
At a party he had sex with a thirteen-year old girl.
That to me is rape.
Polanski then fled America knowing he was going to jail and feared it.
So my question, why nominate him for Tess (1980) as they did and further why give him an Oscar? Because of his crimes he should not have been eligible for the Oscar, but the Academy gave him one and now look like hypocrites if they take it back.
They made Polanski an Academy Award winner, and now do not wish him to be part of their Academy. Does Kevin Spacey get kicked out too? Harvey Weinstein? The Academy cannot honour the work and then in hindsight remove them.
If they do, they are hypocrites. How can they claim they did not know about Polanski’s crimes? Everyone in Hollywood knew and they still voted him an Oscar.
And now because it is fashionable and supports the #MeToo movement they wish to correct their mistake.
Too little to late, you hypocrites.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.