The films of Roman Polanski
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( Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP/Getty Images )
By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times staff
The controversial Polish-French director Roman Polanski made international headlines again last week when he was seized by legal authorities in Switzerland. Polanski now faces possible extradition to the U.S. to face sentencing for the crime he committed in 1977 of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. Polanski fled the U.S. before being sentenced.
Newspaper editorials and the blogosphere have been buzzing with opinions about the legal and moral issues involved in Polanski's case. But relatively little has been said about the moral universe depicted in Polanski's films. Generally speaking, it's a bleak, menacing and ethically ambivalent place, filled with horrifying and sometimes almost comically absurd acts of violence, a place in which terrible things often happen to people for reasons of social expediency, human venality and, sometimes, for no logical reason at all. Frequently, the tone of Polanski's films might be described as a kind of humane pessimism, or outright nihilism, depending on your point of view.
Related: Roman Polanski, through his own lens