L'Europeo August 21, 1969
My Meeting with Sharon
by Adriano Botta
Producer Martin Ransohoff wanted to make her another Marilyn Monroe, the 'sex symbol' of the seventies. But Sharon reacted and got to attend the Actor's Studio. The meeting with Roman Polanski, Sharon called it 'a drug', radically changed her life.
I was one of six hundred and forty invited to the wedding of Sharon Tate in London on 20 January 1968, which was performed in place less for married couples than any place in the world, the Playboy Club. Roman Polanski, the husband, called 'genius and profligacy' by British film critics, dashed down streams of whiskey and told stories that nobody seemed to listen to. The 'bunny' club had distributed rose petals that they knew had hashish. The lights were low, like from a cabaret. On the tables there was no shadow of dishes, so I buy food. Her husband, extolling her, the bride, who looked out of the modern novel of a masochist. She appeared sheathed by Elizabethan costume: lace, high collar and starched puffed sleeves of silk, and a skirt that barely covered her bottom. After alluding to the guests to smile, Sharon Tate sat at the center of the room, in a large bed with black sheets. On her legs that black shining white, long and thin, as in a framework designed for antolgia seduction. We all looked at those legs, our eyes were riveted. We also watched Polanski--who appears to have a taste for suffering--together with a Raymond Chandler film style, the director who turns a cocktail of seduction-perversion-bloody cruelty in a commercial product with a large circulation. "A drop of blood at the spectacle of the wedding would have been in Polanski film fashion," said one of the critics present. Seduction and perversion were squandered, spurting from the contrast between the violent beauty of Sharon and her features delicate and innocent, like the Madonna of Siena, between his hard and sterile voice to hers an icy, sexy, girlish, rich, soft one.
Suddenly Sharon Tate picked up her white panty-hosed, long, and beautiful legs that bewitched so many of us, and came over to me and held a conversation with me for most of that extravagant banquet:
"I'm in love with Roman Polanski because he is beautiful and a genius to the bone and he has the unruliness of a man who is truly wise. My father always told me to cover my legs and never to button my blouse too low. And he scolded my mother since I was two years old when she sent my photographs to newspapers. With my husband, however, I was taught that nudity is not shameful but a way to be free, happy, full of life, and that we have only one duty, to be ourselves. We do only what we want to do, ignoring the opinions of the world. We especially have fun. Roman has taught me that when women like me show themselves nude and beautiful that it is the most pure thing a woman can do. When we were going to shoot our first film together, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Polanski did not want me. The producer had to impose himself and put his foot down to get me the role. I had to shoot three sequences completely naked. I arrived on the set wrapped in a sheet like a ghost and when I opened it I was terribly embarrassed. I bent over and tried to cover my breasts and the rest. Then Polanski told me: 'If you do that it attracts even more attention from the technicians and the matter becomes sordid and dirty. They are embarrassed if you yourself are embarrassed. You must learn to be naked in a natural sort of way, given that you're beautiful, with pride. This is the right attitude.'
"Roman was right. His talent subdues me. And the week after that he photographed me in color for Playboy, naked and natural. By this point I was already at ease. I had already forgotten the stupid complexity of modesty. The nude body has become the symbol of an era, or at least is becoming one. Like the sound of a new era and a new moral--morality naked--without the veil of hypocrisy. The morality of pleasure sought by the soul and the light of the sun. Body and soul: is that not the title of a popular ballad?"
To be continued tomorrow...
Polanski has some good news come his way:
Roman Polanski in Pole Position at Berlin Film Festival
By Mike Collett-White
BERLIN (Reuters) - Roman Polanski can enjoy a break from sensational headlines about his arrest and misdemeanors and bask in the glow of mostly positive reviews for his latest movie "The Ghost Writer."
The 76-year-old director, under house arrest in his chalet in Gstaad, is among the early frontrunners for prizes at the Berlin film festival this year, although the 10-day competition has yet to reach halfway.
The political thriller based on a novel by Robert Harris is one of 20 movies vying for the Golden Bear for best picture, which Polanski won in 1966 for "Cul-de-Sac."
The fact that it is among the favorites is remarkable given that post-production was completed while Polanski was in a Swiss prison and, later, under house arrest.
"With this immensely enjoyable, satisfyingly convoluted thriller he demonstrates exactly why he is still a force to be reckoned with," Wendy Ide wrote in the Times newspaper.
"From the opening scene it is clear Polanski had complete control, whether or not he was behind bars when he finished it."
The United States is seeking to extradite Polanski to face justice after he fled the country in 1978 on the eve of his formal sentencing for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian said: "This is his most purely enjoyable picture for years, a Hitchcockian nightmare with a persistent, stomach-turning sense of disquiet, brought off with confidence and dash."
Hollywood trade publications were more circumspect, however.
Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter described the film about a disgraced British prime minister loosely based on Tony Blair as "sleek" and "hypnotic," "but once the credit roll frees you from its grip, it doesn't bear close scrutiny."
Derek Elley of Variety was one of the few dissenting voices in Berlin:
"All the ingredients are here for a rip-roaring political thriller ... but ... Polanski simply transfers Harris' undistinguished prose direct to the screen and ... there's little wow factor in the revelations as they appear."
GRITTY DRAMAS ALSO SHINE
The Ghost Writer stars Ewan McGregor as a writer brought in to spice up the memoirs of an ex-premier (Pierce Brosnan).
The politician soon becomes embroiled in a bid to have him tried for war crimes, while the writer, who remains nameless, begins to uncover uncomfortable truths about the former leader and his wife, played by Olivia Williams.
Polanski is not alone in impressing critics in Berlin this year, with two other competition entries scoring strongly.
"If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle" is part of the "new wave" of Romanian film-making that has wowed festivals around the world in recent years.
It follows an 18-year-old young offender who is days away from being released from a correction facility. He discovers his mother, who abandoned him as a child, plans to take his brother to Italy, forcing him to take dramatic measures to break free.
Screen International wrote of its "outstanding quality," and the same publication was even more positive about "Submarino," a tough Danish drama which contains scenes of domestic abuse.
"Rarely has there been such a downbeat feel-good movie, but feel-good it is: Submarino works like an emotional massage, leaving the viewer pummeled but invigorated," Screen wrote.
The Berlin film festival awards ceremony is held on February 20.