October Books 3) The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski, by Samantha Geimer

Roman Polanski’s arrest was, in a sense, my arrest. Because I am that thirteen-year-old girl.
Oh for God’s sakes, it’s all such ancient history, you might say. After all, it’s 2013: he’s eighty, I’m fifty. He is one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the world. I have a great husband, great kids, a great life. What do his problems, at this point, have to do with me?
Well, nothing. And everything.

I picked this up after a Twitter debate initiated by @EyeEdinburgh last weekend, in order to educate myself about this particular notorious case. It's a lucid and short book, where Samantha Geimer recounts the story of how Roman Polanski drugged and raped her at Jack Nicholson’s house one evening in 1977, and her life before and after, particularly the subsequent legal battle (which she blames largely on the media-driven mentality of the judge in the case; Polanski was willing to settle on the terms agreed by her and her family). Judith Newman, her ghost-writer, has done a fantastic job of conveying Geimer's voice, and gets a deserved namecheck at the end.

I should say that I have not seen a single minute of any of Polanski's films, so I read it very much as a generic account of what happens when a famous man does a monstrous thing, rather than with any particular views on his gifts or otherwise as an artist. (On his artistic credentials, the point that struck me from the narrative was this: when he brought Samantha home after his assault, the point at which her mother and step-father smelt a rat was when he showed them the photographs he had been taking of her – they simply weren't very good.) One cannot help but be struck by the similarity of the arguments used on Polanski's behalf at the time to those used last year by apologists for Julian Assange, or by Dominique Strauss-Kahn's lawyers the year before. Nothing much has changed since 1977.

On a much more trivial topic, it's very irritating that if @EyeEdinburgh comments here using her Twitter account, she will get a nice Twitter userhead beside her username, but there doesn't seem to be an easy way for me to refer to her in that way in the body of the post. Dreamwidth brought in the <user name=EyeEdinburgh site=twitter.com> code several years ago; if LJ have followed suit, I haven't seen it and can't find it in the FAQ.

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