Roman Polanski was born in August 1933 France and in comparison, toGodard has a much more elaborate collection of work from films ranging inclassic European art cinema to blockbuster Hollywood films made for the massesto enjoy. Polanski and his family moved to Poland shortly after his birth and witnessedGermanys invasion of Poland first hand with his mother and father both beingsent to concentration camps. Polanski fell in love with theatre at a young age and startedcreating short films in his twenty’s but it wasn’t until 1958 when he finallybroke through with his award winning short film Two Men and a Wardrobe which follows two young men carry around alarge cabinet through a town causing problems to everyone around them.
In themajority of Polanski’s student films, the features contain next to no dialoguewhich is something he believed wasn’t necessary in short film. Moving on to Polanski’s first full feature film Knife in the Water (1962) which wasnominated for the best foreign language film at the academy awards followsthree main characters on one general location which is still unusual for itstime and country of origin to not mention the war or any overt politicisation. Therestricted boat location leads to a triangular composition to stress thetension both sexual and otherwise and the common battle between brains andbrawn and young and old.
Both the male characters in the film often take partin various forms of machoistic aggression to try and win over the femalecharacter of the film. Polanski captures these battles with intense wide anglecloseups, these diverse camera angles keep the setting interesting visually andit is apparent when viewing the film how much Polanski values the importance offraming in his films which may be due to his background in photography as astudent. Due to the open ending of the film and its lack of condemnation ofthe character committing adultery cause a lot of criticism and the film wasdenied a premiere and only had a limited release. Fast forward to 1974 when Polanski directed Hollywood blockbuster Chinatown, Polanski subverted theclassic film noire genre by including elements of incest and bright coloursunlike anyone had been used to before. The film follows private investigator JakeGittes as he uncovers a conspiracy regarding the ownership of the city’s watersupply.
One common theme featured in this film that we see in a lot of Polanski’sother work is that of inevitability and people just accepting things as theyare, the classic line of “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown” is telling of this inthe film. One other main themes Polanski uses in his films is isolation, it’sthe clear plot point of Knife in thewater (1962), Repulsion (1965), Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Tenant (1976) but it could also beargued that elements of isolation also appear in The Pianist (2002) and TheGhost Writer (2010). Polanski often plays with the fish out of waternarrative concept placing somewhat ordinary characters in situations where theyare a few steps behind everyone else around them.
This is evident in Rosemarybeing surrounded by Satanists in Rosemary’sBaby, Jake Gittes trying to solve the conspiracy in Chinatown (1974) and Trelkovsky’s suspicions of his neighbours in The Tenant. Not only this becausePolanski also likes to play with the paranoia that isolation can inflict onpeople, this is something that Polanski may draw from his upbringing in Poland.