At the beginning of his life, nothing told us that the young Raymond, Roman Liebling, called later Roman Polanski, will experience such a destiny.
A disturbed childhood
Born on 22th August 1933 in a Parisian residence for Polish and Russian Jews, he went back to Krakow when he turned 4 years old. His destiny changed radically when Germany started to invade Poland and forced him to hide with his relatives in the awful ghetto of Warsaw.
Then, there were only tragedies around him : his mother died in Auchwitz and the other members of his family were all sent to concentration camps.
Fortunately, the young boy managed to survive despite of his age thanks to benevolent persons, his smartness and the black market.
A difficult but necessary start
At the end of the war, he shyly tried to become an actor, firstly playing in a scout camp before taking part in a radio show. His initial steps as an actor in the film industry came after his role in a play called "The regiment's son". Even if not very well-known, his first movie, "Generation", at least allowed him to meet a true friend of him, Andrezej Wajda.
Roman Polanski entered the film school of Lodz where he produced some successful short films and even a film which won a prize : "Two men and a wardrobe".
Emerging from obscurity
In 1962, after having experienced some successes, he launched himself into a full-length movie, "Knife in the water" which turned him famous in the West and even brought him an award at the Mostra of Venice.
He was nominated for the best foreign film Oscar but was finally whipped by Fellini's film, "Eight and a half". No matter, his career was launched.
Immediately after his prize, he started to perform doing many films :
*In 1965, Repulsion with Catherine Deneuve
* In 1966, Cul-de-sac with Françoise Dorléac and Donald Pleasance
*In 1967, The Fearless Vampire Killers, with his future wife, Sharon Tate
* In 1968, Rosemary's baby with Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes
The road to hell
In 1969, while he was working on a new film in England, he was badly shocked by his wife's murder, Sharon Tate, perpetrated by the guru Charles Manson and his friends. In spite of an iron will to go through thanks to hard work, his following films, an adaptation of "Macbeth" (1971) and "What?" (1972) with Marcello Mastroianni remained unknown.
Everything changed with the release of "Chinatown" in 1974, which was warmly welcomed.
In 1975, he shot "The Tenant", which, despite of the participation of two great stars, Isabelle Adjani and Shelley Winters, had few success worldwide. Besides this blow, he was accused of having raped a thirteen-years-old girl and then released on bail. So he was forced to flee from the US and he took refuge in England and France.
Fortunately, his recent French nationality protected him from extradition.
Many years later, in 2009, the same judicial story restarted with international prosecution, putting him under house arrest in a Swiss chalet.
Eventually, prosecution is stopped, but as he is still officially wanted, he can only travel between France, Poland and Switzerland.
Glory and recognizing
In 1979, his latest film, "Tess", dedicated to his dead wife, won 3 Cesars (best film, best director and best photography).
In 1981, Roman Polanski played and directed in the "Amadeus" of Schaffer.
In 1984, his autobiography explained in details his tortured life, his difficulties, successes and love stories.
In 1986, his film called "Pirates" was a failure.
In 1988, he directed Harisson Ford in « Frantic ». Even if the film was appreciated, the next ones did not follow the same path ("Bitter Moon", "Death and the Maiden" and "The Ninth Gate").
Until 2002, he dedicated himself to film-making, theatre, opera, and even musicals. However, his greater success was “The Pianist”, which brought to him global celebrity and recognition from his colleagues and the people.
Roman Polanski dealt in all his films with painful events experienced in Warsaw’s ghetto and generally speaking, in Poland. He won the “Palme d’or” at the film festival of Cannes on the same year.
In 2003, he was nominated seven times to the Oscar, and was awarded as the best film-maker, after having won 7 Cesars.
In 2003, the release of “Oliver Twist” didn't attract a lot of attention.
On the contrary, with “Ghost Writer” in 2010, Roman Polanski created a psychological poker and won a third best film-maker Cesar. It was the first time a film director was awarded three times for his work!
His wedding and children
He married a Polish actress called Barbara Kwiatkowska in 1958 and put an end to their relationship in 1962. A few years later, in January 1968, he married the beautiful Sharon Tate, an American actress met during the shooting of “The Fearless Vampire Killers”.
After her tragic death in 1969, he waited for 20 years before getting engaged with his current wife, the French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, who gave him two children, Elvis, 13 years-old, and Morgane who is 18.
Secretive and unpredictable, but so gifted!
His extraordinary career reveals his genius artistic abilities, enabling him to be as talented to produce films and act into them as to write scenarios or books.
The election of the subject of his films is highly linked to the kind of violence which has been part of his life since his childhood. However, his sense of humor and his eccentric behavior make his frightening world easier to accept and understand and weaken the anxiety the spectator can feel. Often disturbing, sometimes evil, he leads the spectator in a excessive (even sometimes crazy) world and reveals subtly the worst side of the human soul.
The film industry currently has a lot of its masterpieces thanks to this exceptional man, meticulous, never satisfied but truly inimitable.