With an unerring ability both to describe evil and to place himself in its path, Polanski has created a body of work that never fails to elicit shudders and raise questions. He possesses a mordant insight into the politics of sex... [more]
With an unerring ability both to describe evil and to place himself in its path, Polanski has created a body of work that never fails to elicit shudders and raise questions. He possesses a mordant insight into the politics of sex
and violence, an inherent feel for the macabre, and an eccentric and perverse aesthetic that gives his films the pulse of life. "Knife in the Water" (1962), his debut feature, rocketed him to the forefront of Polish New Wave cinema. He then moved to France, and later, to Hollywood, where he would face a number of personal dramas that eventually sent him back to Europe -- most notably, the Charles Manson cult's murder of his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, and his U.S. conviction for having sex with a minor.
Polanski's work delves into the darker side of human nature, telling taut stories that always keep one eye on the wicked subtext. "Chinatown" (1974) represents the apex of his directorial talent. Based on an Oscar-winning script by Robert Towne, it takes Jack Nicholson's trampled-upon detective Jake Gittes and plops him into a slick Los Angeles metaphor for commerce and corruption. Previously Polanski had excelled at horror: "Rosemary's Baby" (1968), his first American film, is a smartly done, satanic-themed possession thriller featuring a terrified Mia Farrow giving birth to the son of the Evil One. From the Hitchcockian "Frantic" (1988) to the voyeuristic sexual obsession of "Bitter Moon" (1992), Polanski tenders distinctive works that are as notorious in style as his private life. [show less]