As a celebrity on the run,Roman Polanski has never been out of the news. This week,he has made headlines because the Swiss authorities have cut him some slack on his long-pending extradition case. He can still not travel to the US without being arrested on the spot,though he is now free to step out of his Gstaad chalet (hes been under house arrest since September 2009) and breathe some fresh air.
Being hemmed in is something Polanski knows about. A just-out triple DVD collection has two of his famous apartment movies Rosemarys Baby and The Tenant,both of which have people slowly sinking into darkness and Chinatown. The last one steps out occasionally to the outdoors,but displays the same claustrophobic,atmospheric dread that Polanski specialises in.
A mother to-be discovering that things may not be going all right with her is bad enough. Worse is finding out that the husband may not be a good guy,in fact may be in line with the Devil. Mia Farrow plays the hunted mother to perfection in Rosemarys Baby; fragile yet strong,so repulsed by what comes out of her womb,yet so full of love for her child.
In The Tenant,Polanski himself plays the self-effacing tenant,who moves into an apartment which used to be occupied by a young woman who recently flung herself out of a high window. The bad-tempered concierge points out the spot where she landed,and informs him that the girl is fighting for her life in a hospital. The Tenant takes us along the young mans journey from sanity to madness. Or,is he the only one who is sane?
And Chinatown,of course,is an enduring classic that takes Jack Nicholsons smart-mouthed private eye and plonks him in every single frame of the film,a remarkable feat. Theres greed,intrigue and blonde bombshells,and a crackling good story.