A Year: Day to Day Men: 18th of August, Solar Year 2018

The Shooter

August 18, 1933 is the birthdate of film director, Roman Polanski.

Roman Polanski attended the National Film School in Lodz, Poland. He tok up actiong in the 1950s, appearing in Andrzej Wajda’s  1954 “A Generation”. During the same year, he was in Silik Sternfeld’s “Enchanted Bicycle”. Polanski’s directorial debut was the 1955 short film “Rower”, a semi-autobiographical feature film referring to a real-life violent altercation with a known Polish felon who severely beat and robbed Polanski. He graduated from the National Film School with recognition from his two films “Two Men and a Wardrobe” and “When Angels Fall”.

Polanski’s first feature-length film, “Knife in the Water”, was also one of the first significant Polish films after the Second World War that did not have a war theme. A dark and unsettling work, Polanski’s debut film subtly revealed a profound pessimism about human relationships with regard to the psychological dynamics and moral consequences of status, envy and sexual jealousy. “Knife in the Water” was a major commercial success in the West and gave Polanski an international reputation. The film also earned director Polanski his first Academy Award nomination, Best Foreign Language Film in 1963.

Polanski made three feature films in England, based on original scripts written by himself and Gerard Brach, a frequent collaborator. The 1965 film “Repulsion” was a psychological horror film focusing on a young Belgian woman living in London with her older sister. Its visual motifs and effects reflected the influence of early surrealist cinema as well as horror films of the 1950s. The 1966 “Cul-de-Sac” was a bleak nihilist tragic comedy. The third film was the 1967 “The Fearless Vampire Killers”, a parody of vampire films. Ironic and macabre, it was the first feature film of Polanski to be photographed in color which emphasized the striking visual fairy-tale landscapes of the film.

Roman Polanski made many famous films in his career, such as “Chinatown” and “The Ghost Writer”; however, the one that stands out for many is the 1968 “Rosemary’s Baby”, based on Ira Levin’s novel.  Paramount Studio had brought Polanski to the United States to direct “Downhill Racer”; but studio head Robert Evans wanted Polanski to see if a film could be made from Levin’s novel. Polanski read it non-stop through the night and the following morning decided he wanted to write as well as direct it. He wrote the 272-page screenplay for the film in slightly longer than three weeks.

Polanski’s film, “Rosemary’s Baby”, was a box-office success and became his first Hollywood production, thereby establishing his reputation as a major commercial filmmaker. The film, a horror-thriller set in trendy Manhattan, is about Rosemary Woodhouse, a young housewife who is impregnated by the devil. Polanski’s screenplay adaptation earned him a second Academy Award nomination for Best Writing for a screenplay form another medium.

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