Roman Polanski is 82 years old. When he had “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” (aka drugged and raped her), the director was 43 years old; he’s been on the lam for approximately 37 years (left the United States in 1978). Thirty-seven years of running, well — of trying to make sure you’re safe in a place that won’t extradite — I can’t even imagine what that’s like. I’m not saying that in a sympathetic way; I’m saying it in a Wouldn’t-You-Want-to-Just-Get-It-Over kind of way. I’m the kind of person who, if I do something wrong and know I have to face the music, will just do it and get it over with.
Sure, I do understand (although many might not) the desire to run if one made a legal plea bargain deal, served an (however inappropriate) agreed upon number of days, and then heard the judge was going to go back on the deal. But the desire to run and actually running are two different things. Polanski wasn’t a poor schmuck on the street who couldn’t afford a good legal team, and if he’d just had the balls to face the music — pretty fucking quiet music for raping a child — he wouldn’t be a fugitive for nearly four decades now. What the ever-loving fuck? The man has a wife and a daughter (22) and son (17); how does he look them in the eye? How do they all go on as if they don’t know he’s on the run from authorities every single day of his life?
It’s pointless to ponder such things, and for Polanski, the running may finally be at an end. A Polish court has set September 22nd as the date for his extradition hearing — if the request to extradite is granted, it will still require approval by Poland’s justice ministry.
Here’s the kicker, though: Polanski — who holds dual Polish and French citizenship — is currently residing in Paris, so he still might not be returned to the United States. If Poland agrees to the extradition request, all that means is that the director (who had intended to make his next film in Poland) can’t go back to his home country.
You’d think that by this point in his life, Polanski would have found the fortitude — would want to be able to look his family (and himself) in the eye — to set things straight. With the revelations surrounding Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, and public apologies to his victim, returning to the United States on his own is the one and only thing Polanski must do. At 82, it’s high time to face the music. In the end, his films won’t be the thing the world remembers. To be an octogenarian, still cowardly, and fleeing from the truth will be his shameful legacy.