by Alison Janssen
So ... I watched The Ghost Writer. Which was directed by Roman Polanski.
I'm feeling pretty guilty about it.
My feelings for Polanski haven't changed. And the movie, though I liked it, didn't give me reason to want to use his art to excuse his criminal acts. I'm still baffled by the list of people who supported him when he was under house arrest.
So why did I rent the movie? What is wrong with me?! I didn't even want to see it that badly in the first place! I mean, I like Ewan McGregor, and the premise was intriguing but not oh-my-god-we-must-see-this overwhelming. In fact, I spent a good deal of the movie admiring his character's blue sweater and trying to reverse-engineer it in my head so I can knit it for my fiance:
(Though after the disastrous Captain Kirk inspired gold cotton/bamboo raglan sweater that I knit in its entirety this past winter, which then didn't fit him, I worry about attempting another raglan. I have difficulty getting the underarm fit to work! Where's Tim Gunn when I need him?!)
I'm trying to imagine having watched the movie without knowing it was directed by Polanski, or having rented it not knowing what I do about his personal life. I saw The Ninth Gate when it came out, but at the time I didn't know who Polanski was or really anything about him. I didn't really like that movie, but I didn't really hate it, either -- it was pretty forgettable, I thought.
I liked The Ghost Writer better than that, it had some nice moments (and that sweater) and I really loved the last shot. But it's got me all angsty because I went in with the knowledge of the past acts of its director, and I went in choosing to set that knowledge aside to try to just watch a movie.
Is it our responsibility as viewers to avoid the work of artists who have done terrible things? Should I feel bad for watching this movie? I honestly don't know.
What do you think?