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Alex Carnevale

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is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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In Which We Mark Graves Like Birthplaces

Ceci N’est Pas CBGB


Stand at the corner of the Bowery and Rivington Street, and look around. In every direction, nearly as far as you can see, you’ll be greeted by awnings announcing “Restaurant Supplies”: Regency, to your left; APLUS, to your right; J&D, East Coast, and Admor Restaurant Supplies and Equipment across the street. They are functional, no-frills places, with concrete floors and pots and pans stacked on plain steel shelving units.

Now walk three blocks up the Bowery, just past the intersection with Houston Street. It might not look so different. Here is an awning reading “Pat’s Restaurant Equip.”; across the street is a large business with concrete floors and plain shelves that display simple copper pots. At this point, you have a choice: would you prefer to pop into the former to buy a $400 dress, or the latter for a $95 seafood platter?

The trompe l’oeil décor at Patricia Field’s boutique and Daniel Boulud’s DBGB restaurant, both established on the Bowery in the last five years, aren’t looking to fool you, necessarily, into thinking you’re several blocks further downtown, past the boundary of Bowery gentrification. Rather, they’re paying tribute to the history of the neighborhood.

“We weren’t looking at being kitsch and really trying to make this look exactly like a kitchen-supply house,” said Thomas Schlesser, the award-winning interior designer responsible for the cookware-lined interior of DBGB. “It’s more a matter of trying to capture the spirit of what a kitchen-supply house was about, and really celebrate that in the formal geometries of the restaurant.”

DBGB’s décor — and that of a number of other area businesses making similar design choices — represents an homage, then, to what the Lower East Side and East Village once were. Similarly, the John Varvatos store in the space formerly owned by CBGB, which has kept some of the graffiti from the rock club’s interior intact, is just offering its respects. “It’s something that I’ve noticed that’s existed for a while — there was just never a term that summarized the phenomenon,” said Lower East Side resident Elie Perler, who runs the neighborhood blog Bowery Boogie.

Mr. Perler might try “authentrification.” These businesses are doing more than just gentrifying the neighborhood: in their quest for authenticity, they’re seizing on elements that represent the area’s past and repurposing them as a design scheme. The tendency of new East Village businesses toward authentrification is less than popular among Mr. Perler and fellow observers of the neighborhood, who view the phenomenon as insincere.

The East Village resident who keeps the popular blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, and goes by the name Jeremiah Moss, sees it as something of a class issue. “You can think about it as imperialistic, this sort of, like, ‘We’re going to come in and we’re going to take over, but we’re going to decorate our spaces with totems of the culture we just destroyed,’” he said. “It’s sort of like, ‘We came, we saw, we conquered, and now we own this stuff.’”

Those who actually do own this stuff don’t see it quite that way; their intentions, they insist, are genuinely good. For Mr. Schlesser, the decision to decorate DBGB to look like a kitchen-supply house was a careful one. “We were very conscious of wanting to have a project that really fit with the neighborhood, and didn’t come in and announce itself or create an environment that was out of character with what you might have expected there before the gentrification really started to kick in,” he said.

Jeff Goldstein, the owner-operator of the Blue & Cream boutique at Bowery and East 1st Street (the second location of a store he originally established in the Hamptons in 2004), even goes as far as to praise his competitor. “John Varvatos is the best thing that could have happened to CBGB’s. CBGB’s was going to close, anyway. It was over.”

Mr. Goldstein chalks up CBGB’s closing to the unpleasant financial reality of a rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood. “At least you’ve got a guy who preserved some of it… I’d rather the soul of it not be gone [than] there be, like, a Duane Reade there,” he says. “That’d be horrible!”

An anonymous East Village blogger (and twenty-year resident), who goes by the name EV Grieve, disagrees. “Something about it is kind of unsettling to me; I find it kind of ghoulish,” says Mr. Grieve of the efforts made by the John Varvatos boutique to preserve the spirit of CBGB. “In a somewhat strange way, God forbid, I’d almost rather have it turned into a yogurt store, or something completely different.”

Authentrification is not limited to the East Village. You can find it in Soho, where Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakery chose to maintain the old façade from Vesuvio, the beloved 89-year-old bakery it replaced. You can find it on the Upper West Side, where an Urban Outfitters opened last summer with four distinct storefronts meant to evoke a hat store, a hardware store, a neighborhood bar, and a bodega — the exact kinds of businesses that chain stores like Urban Outfitters are pricing out of existence. You can even find it in the outer boroughs, at least on TV: an episode of 30 Rock found its protagonist, Liz Lemon, asking her friend why a hip Brooklyn boutique was peppered with decorative straitjackets. “Because before this was a clothing store, it was a mental hospital,” Liz’s friend replied. “It’s winky and fun.”

Still, the East Village does seem to boast the highest rate of authentrification per block. The peculiar history of the Bowery, and the area immediately surrounding it, makes it uniquely suited to this kind of treatment. Those who would hearken back to a “real New York” won’t find a place much more “real” than the Bowery: its Gilded Age brothels and disreputable bars, its mid-century identity as New York’s Skid Row; its place in history as the exact spot where the punk movement was born.

Jeff Goldstein is particularly interested in the last of these eras — what the Bowery represented in the 1970s and ’80s. His Bowery boutique doubles as an art gallery: Mr. Goldstein has arranged for a permanent exhibition of photos, taken by the legendary nightlife photographer Patrick McMullan between 1978 and 1985, to grace the walls of his store. “I have this incredible photo. It’s called City in Disrepair, from Patrick McMullan, which is, you know, a huge square block… just destroyed, like, late ’70s: rubble, with a car on fire, and the garbage cans. And just what New York was — this city in disrepair,” he said.

“And I fully romanticize that, as a New Yorker,” Mr. Goldstein admitted. The photo reminds him of skateboarding in the city, at age eleven or twelve. “This is something that we want to kind of hold onto.”

Blue & Cream, John Varvatos, Patricia Field’s, and DBGB are all located on a two-block stretch of the Bowery, between Houston and Bleecker streets. But cast your net a little further and you’ll find more: Beauty and Essex, a restaurant that also houses a pawn shop; Rag & Bone, a high-end clothing store whose Houston Street outpost replaced Café Colonial, an East Village fixture, last July. On its Elizabeth Street wall, Rag & Bone posted a note: “Rag & Bone bids farewell to Café Colonial, a neighborhood landmark.”

“That note really struck me as patronizing; it really, truly did,” Mr. Grieve said. “In some ways it’s better not to say anything, rather than to constantly remind people what was there.”

The wall that housed the note was immediately tagged by a graffiti artist, who wrote “YOU WOULD” in capital letters underneath. Other taggers followed suit. In September, the store’s owners and manager gave up repainting over the graffiti and decided to hold a public contest for local artists to create a mural to replace the sign. Artist Josh Villatoro won, with a design featuring a stylishly dressed woman emerging from an egg. His mural has since been replaced, though you can still make out bits and pieces of what came before.

“Rag & Bone, that’s from a line that’s from a Yeats poem,” Mr. Moss remarked. “The line is, ‘The foul rag and bone shop of the heart.’ Which, it kind of sounds like the old Bowery, right?”

He took a moment to look up the poem, Yeats’ “The Circus Animals’ Desertion,” and read a few lines aloud.

A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,

Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till…

“So it’s sort of almost like, again, taking something of the poor, of the downtrodden, the rags and the bones, and using it to sell something very expensive,” Mr. Moss said.

Rag & Bone store manager Kamika Yankov said the response she witnessed to the original tribute was a largely positive one. “Even people that didn’t want to shop in here, did just pop their heads in and be like, ‘Hey, we really appreciate the sign,’” she said. No one complained — at least not to her face. “I think most of the negative comments were left online,” she said with a laugh.

But even critics of the original sign seem to appreciate the new approach, which some residents see as a gesture that is more legitimately connected to the neighborhood. “It’s a good idea,” Mr. Perler said. “Because they’re looking into the community for to have input into what they’re doing. They could have just as easily put up some stupid whatever, and it would have meant nothing. But because they brought in some unheard-of artist to do this thing, it’s kind of cool.”

No one who has a vested interest in the authentrification of the East Village and Lower East Side — either its defenders or its detractors — is naïve about the way New York neighborhoods work. “Change in neighborhoods is inevitable, and New York, of all cities, is predicated on the dynamics of change that come and go through various neighborhoods,” Mr. Schlesser, the DBGB designer, said.

“Change is inevitable, you know, things come and go,” Mr. Perler echoed.

“John F. Kennedy said ‘Change is good, change is good, and we can’t fight it,’” Mr. Goldstein said. “Sometimes I want to feel like the comfy blanket of how things used to be, but everything in New York has changed, and we’re not going to be able to stop it. So what we’re doing here is kind of plant the flag, tell our story, and be true to ourselves as much as possible.” He paused. “I didn’t mean to make that sound like a speech.”

Alexandria Symonds is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. This is her first appearance in these pages. You can find her website here and she tumbls here.



In Which These Are Sisters In Disguise

This week we look back at the films of Roman Polanski.

The Double Life


dir. Roman Polanski
105 minutes

Catherine Deneuve followed her sister Françoise Dorléac into filmmaking. Acting was the family business – their father had been a voiceover artist, their mother a doyenne at the Odeon Theatre, and their grandmother an off-stage prompter in Paris. Françoise started in a traditional way, studying at the Conservatoire for a career on the stage.

Catherine was less certain — her first job was for pocket money, playing her sister's twin in Les Collegiennes. They were both beautiful: at times you can see the resemblance, like a double exposed negative of the same person. She took her mother's maiden name, Deneuve, to separate herself professionally. Personally, they were distinct in several ways: Françoise was outgoing, impetuous, impatient. Catherine was inward, shy, hesitant.

Like many actors who began as children, Catherine was employed for the implications of her form. In even her youngest, most tentative roles, she imparts an unusual melancholy – she is an ingénue only in her Jacques Demy film, the candy-colored The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. From Demy she learned the importance of mise-en-scene, the choreography of a film's aesthetic elements. Perhaps because she was an untrained child actress, she was willing to be led. In part, it is this strange ability and self-knowledge, this volition to be used, that makes Deneuve the perfect heroine for so many directors.

Polanski uses her sadness and inexperience to great effect in Repulsion. The psychological horror film was the director's first in English. All his movies have a hermetic quality – inspired by but unrelated to the living world. This one, about a French girl in London whose mind is eclipsed by madness, was triply removed from reality:

DENEUVE: Three of us were French: Roman, who, despite being Polish, spoke French all the time, Gérard Brach, and me. We really were the Three Musketeers. Everybody else on set was British. Roman knew exactly how to be respected by the crew, he was no pushover. But because we spoke French, we experienced the making of that film a little from the sidelines, in a rather unique atmosphere. We were a core within the team.

In TV footage from his set, Polanski demonstrates for his star the body language and timing of her character’s reactions quite specifically. He counts out the rhythms of the camera movements; he mimes the intensely fragile delivery of the central character. Deneuve says she is quite pleased with the director: he began his career as a performer, so he understands how to talk to an actor.

Deneuve described the shooting of the fraught film as paradoxically happy. She had a British husband, David Bailey (the inspiration for the lothario photographer in Antonioni’s Blow Up), tony friends (Mick Jagger was the best man at her London wedding) and a sympathetic director who spoke her language (unlike her husband).

There are probably as many ways to direct a movie as there are auteurs. But part of the impulse to produce an effect: I’ve sat with more than one director who has monitored the minute physical reactions of an audience during a screening. The profession is part puppetry and part self-revelation, wherein the director can mold a universe in which the characters and story create a pleasing reality (though pleasing for a director might mean emotional provocation for everyone else).

By having a barely-fluent lead, Polanski's film reinforces the odd idea that sound and dialogue don’t mean much in film. At other times, his sets and cultural referents are those of a person who may have read about a place but never visited it. It’s as if all experience of the outer world is filtered in third-hand. This is fine, of course. Polanski isn’t exactly interested in recreating a documentary world. One can be tempted to say that perhaps it's a documentary of Polanski’s rather unusual psyche.

Repulsion is an experimental film, the kind a college student might attempt, with its fish-eyed closeups of the heroine, who moves from extreme sensitivity to murder and madness. At times, the film is little more than an excuse to look — at length — at one of the world’s most beautiful women. And to watch her suffer, and then take sudden, poisonous revenge on the world that threatens her.

His films as recently as The Ghost Writer and The Pianist make it seem that Polanski’s priorities are unchanged. I was impressed with The Pianist's long passages of silence, when the hero wanders an empty expanse of bombed out Warsaw; his isolation is heightened by the temporary hearing impairment from an explosion. Many of Polanski's characters are cushioned by a similar deprivation. Silence can be restful and protective, or pernicious and toxic.

In 1966's Cul-de-sac, human nature is equivalent to a scorpion’s. Françoise Dorléac's Teresa is unfaithful, slightly spoiled, beautiful and reactive, very much the opposite of Deneuve’s Carol in Repulsion. She’s a real woman who exists in the world — confined in a marriage to an ineffectual but very wealthy member of the British upper class.

The film begins with a couple of criminals whose car stalls on a beach in low tide. One of the pair is gravely wounded. The other, a slab of a man with a boxer’s brow, stumbles off in search of help — he finds Françoise, topless on the beach and embracing a young man. The bully wanders onto the estate — and there we discover Françoise is actually married, and to a different man from the one she was kissing. The husband is George, a bald would-be gentleman who has bought an island castle, it seems, to show off to his friends.

Polanski is terrific at using the camera for a slow, controlled revelation. There's an odd visual pantomime of the exchange of gender roles. Teresa dresses George in her dressing gown, then paints makeup on his face. It’s completely plausible behavior, but as Polanski films it, it’s troubling. What is the relationship between these two? The decoration of George is intimate and playful but irreverent and emasculating. In effect, she dominates him. When the criminal breaks into the house at night to use their telephone, George responds to the intruder while still in female dress. It is utterly impossible for him to regain his footing as the lord of the manor, and the couple are quickly held hostage by the brute who awaits the arrival of Mr. Kastelbach, a Beckettian crime lord whose arrival will signal their delivery to safety. Naturally, Mr. Kastelbach never shows. The criminals don’t survive the siege — but that is unsurprising. The couple is unspared as well, mostly by their own violence.

Polanski assigns intensely angry impulses to his protagonists. When impotent, they have diversely self-harming behaviors. Françoise's character becomes provocative, setting fires between the toes of their sleeping attacker and leveling an empty shotgun at herself while she checks to see the gauges are empty. 

Cul-de-sac has a broader arc of action, a more diverse playing field of characters. So why does Repulsion linger in the public imagination?

ARNAUD DESPLECHIN: What I see is the mark of an auteur. Beyond the excellence of your acting, what all your films seem to share, is your gaze, your point of view.

DENEUVE: Yes, you’re right, that’s what it is: a gaze. I think I’ve always leaned toward that. Perhaps because I never went to acting school and never worked with actors. I only ever met them on film sets — I never really had any actor friends, apart from my sister. I was always on the director’s side, or the screenwriter’s. I didn’t choose to, it just happened.”

AD: Like the film you made with Demy, Repulsion demands a closeness between the director and the actor.

CD: Yes, I felt very, very close to Roman. That’s the film I feel I helped make. The producers were used to producing porn. It was a small budget film and for them, nothing of great consequence.

You could argue that Françoise was the better-looking sister, with more symmetrical features and a lither figure. Catherine had prominent eyes, deeply shadowed eyes. Her jaw and nose are less graceful. But why is she the greater star?

In Four Beats To The Bar And No Cheating, Bailey contrasts his first wife and muse Deneuve with his second, supermodel Jean Shrimpton, who he calls a "democratic beauty." Shrimpton was unintimidating and appealing to many. Of course, one could say "undemocratic beauty" is really what we know as "cute."

There's a notable immobility in her expressions — she is an actress who learned her craft while she was doing it, from other actors, and perhaps more importantly, from the directors who saw her as the perfect conspirator. When she's interviewed as a young woman, her inexperience is evident. She purses her lips and flirts with the camera with the assuredness of the beautiful (the smiles, flicking her tongue along her upper lip when she talks). What's wonderful about her as an actress is that she loses all those ticks onscreen.

She is her own center of gravity — and for the first chapter of her career, seemed to work better in films that were overly stylized. Her initial skills as an actress were the guilelessness and remove that accompanied her odd, slightly disturbing beauty. She lets herself go: "Sometimes you have to accept that the image is more powerful than you…" 

Karina Wolf is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan. She tumbls here and twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about the rabbit hole. Her book The Insomniacs is forthcoming from Penguin Putnam.

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He's Only One Man: Roman Polanski

Daniel D'Addario on Frantic

Kara VanderBijl on Tess

Alex Carnevale on Bitter Moon

Karina Wolf on Repulsion & Cul-de-sac

Durga Chew-Bose on Rosemary's Baby

Polanski's Script


In Which We Explore Roman Polanski's Soft Spot

This week we look back at the films of Roman Polanski.



Back in the days when I was at film school I think it's different today we made two silent films of two or three minutes each during the first year. In the third year we made a documentary, and in the fourth a fiction film. Through year film we made our diploma project, the length of which was between 300 and 600 metres. Aside from those requirements, we also worked on other films, for example my own short Two Men and a Wardrobe.

Before I made Two Men and a Wardrobe I'd already made The Bike but it was never finished because the lab accidentally sent a reel of the negative to Moscow where the Youth Festival was taking place, and it was never seen again. The film was in color, and I think it would have been quite good. I did make another film in color, When Angels Fall, which was my diploma film.

Although it was never my intention, Two Men and a Wardrobe is rather symbolic. Two men come out of the sea carrying a wardrobe and walk into town. People can't stand the sight of them traipsing around with this thing, especially when they go into cafes or try to get onto a tram. They stick out and because of this provoke hatred wherever they go. I wanted to show the unpleasant things going on in town around the two of them, all these crimes that no one does anything about because everyone's focused on these two strangers. No one says anything to the murderer of the boys who kill the cat, but at the same time they can't tolerate this bizarre trio of two and the wardrobe who end up just walking back into the ocean.

Of course, that's my version. Every audience member will presumably come up with something completely different. But it's a film, not an article in a political journal or newspaper imbued with an ideology or philosophy.

The Fat and the Lean is the story of a man enslaved. The idea is simply that of someone being tormenting and made to endure harsher and harsher suffering, and who is eventually happy to return to his original hardships. It's similar to the story of the man who bangs his head against the wall. When asked why, he explains, "Because it feels so good when I stop."

I don't have any preferences for shooting on location - it depends on the story. I'm inspired by what I find on film sets. With The Fat and the Lean, for example, it was important that the man escaped into a flat landscape because then we can see that the place he's running away from the town, this oasis is so far away. The story couldn't take place in a house where all he would have to do is open and close the door.

I need a situation or characters in order to write a screenplay. The most important thing, whether it's cinema or theater, where someone is playing a part (abstract films don't count), is character. The character, even if it's a dog, is always at the center of the story. Dramatic situations are quickly forgotten but characters remain. A good film is always about its characters, whether we're watching Charles Chaplin, James Dean or James Stewart. For a novel, the writer finds an interesting character he wants to describe and only then creates the story around this person.

with Robert Evans

Apparently some authors and this applies to painters, too don't know what they're going to do before they start. They just do it. The results can be astounding, but that's not my way of working. For my short films I always outlined the editing very accurately by making storyboards of each shot, though this never stopped me from changing things at the last minute.

Why not make use of whatever arises on location? I didn't plan each shot with as much care for Knife in the Water because it would have been too time-consuming and I couldn't be bothered. Also because it's just not possible to have control over absolutely everything. The story takes place on a tiny yacht and the situations between the characters are limited. I had to approach it much more in terms of improvisation, and it helped to make only basic sketches of the shots.

Not using direct sound in my short films was never a financial consideration. There are some films where music works better than everyday noises. To include every single sound means a film becomes realistic and concrete, leaving nothing to the imagination. It's not a good idea to include both music and sound effects you have to choose between them. My short films are not at all realistic so I wanted music in them. I asked a musician whom I've known for a long time to compose something that would express the feelings behind the images. If I'd got rid of the music, I would have added only sound effects and the audience would have wondered why the characters never spoke out loud. But if I'd written dialogue, the story would have become uninteresting. When something is expressed too clearly, it can fall flat.

Cinema isn't like chemistry where you can predict that ten grams of one substance, when combined with five grams of another, will give a particular result. With cinema, I do as I please. When I started at film school everyone had their own theories, but today this is precisely what I mistrust more than anything else. You can't make films with theories, except for things like Last Year in Marienbad which is far too serious for me.

Everything in this life has a comic quality on the surface and a tragic quality underneath. Comic episodes often hide supposedly serious incidents. It's the kind of thing that happens at a funeral or even in a concentration camp. I think that in spite of their great suffering, the prisoners laughed from time to time because of these moments of comedy. There's a lot of literature in this vein.

Personally, I can't stand overly serious films Kaneto Shindo's 1961 film The Naked Island. Besides, they aren't very good films. Life like this just doesn't exist, just as you'd never encounter the kinds of situations you see in Last Year at Marienbad.

I worked as an actor not as an assistant for Andrzej Wajda, and I think I've been influenced by him. I worked with Andrzej Munk because we were friends and he asked me, but we had different ideas about cinema. Though I'm more like Wajda and I like his work very much, you can hardly say that I imitate him. My films are quite different from his, though his Ashes and Diamonds is my favorite film. Among Polish talents who are unknown here in France is Wojciech Has who made a film called The Art of Loving.

I'm fairly dismissive of the French nouvelle vague directors because they've made so many third rate films that I can't stand. But what's wonderful is that as a movement, it's completely changed French and maybe even global film production. I feel that films like Breathless and all the Francois Truffaut films are works of art.

I'm also very fond of American cinema, directors like Orson Welles and Elia Kazan, and films like Baby Doll, A Face in the Crowd, and Viva Zapata!. I wouldn't say I have a favorite director I like some of a director's films and not others. I also have a soft spot for American silent comedies which I don't think you could call burlesque.


To my mind, Chaplin's films are very realistic. Look at the walk-on actors they're so natural. I also like Buster Keaton and The World of Harold Lloyd which has instances of pure genius, like when he climbs like an alpinist over a man who's trying to extract his own tooth. Those are things that you dream and read about as a child. A real man climbing over a man twice his height it's hilarious! You know, I don't laugh very often at the cinema. If I see something I like, I usually just laugh silently. But that Harold Lloyd film had me rolling in fits of laughter.

I have access to everything I need when I'm filming in Poland. Censorship really isn't an issue there. It's only relevant once a film is finished, but is rarely enforced. In order to make a film, a script has to be shown to a commission whose members meet once or twice a week. Each member receives the script two or three weeks before the meeting where they decide if the film can be made. There are eight production groups in Poland and I'm a member of the Kamera Group. When I have an idea, I submit it to my group leader. If he likes it, he'll ask me to develop it into a script that can be presented to the commission. If the commission rejects it, I'm not able to make the film. The commission deals only with feature films for shorts it's different because they're less expensive and fewer people are involved. My teacher was responsible for my work and gave his approval for the two or three films I made at the Lodz Film Academy. For Mammals I worked with an independent production group that made shorts and that was able to make certain decision without consulting the authorities.

In Poland I've been accused of "individualistic pessimism." Maybe this has something to do with my personality because I'm a mischievous person. But I can't say that every single critic is against me because most of them have helped a lot. Though critics are important in Poland, it's not like here in France where they can influence audiences and seriously affect a film's reception. At home the authorities support the critics, and a film director or the group to which he belongs would encounter serious problems, if for example, his film was labeled as reactionary by one or more official newspapers which are the mouthpieces of the party. But it never happens.

May 1963

with Francesca Annis

From a radio interview with Philip Short:

POLANSKI: When I wrote at the start of my autobiography, "For as far back as I can remember, the line between fantasy and reality has been hopelessly blurred," what I meant was I simply didn't have any concept of where the limits of what's possible are. This helped me in my childhood, my youth and even lately to achieve certain aims and goals that I wouldn't be able to reach without the conviction that everything is possible.

Q: There are people who would say that you brought your troubles on yourself.

POLANSKI: Well, I think that's total nonsense. Of course, to a certain extent you are responsible for your style of life, the life you are leading. You have a choice of the amplitude of the events that happen - the higher you get, the harder you fall. I understand there's a gentleman in England who decided to spend the rest of his life in bed. Not because he's ill, it was just his decision. Such people have very little risk of being run over by a car. So if you see it likes this, then yes, I am responsible, because maybe I live a fuller life than other people.

Q: You came to the West, you went to Hollywood, you married and your wife was murdered. How did you cope when that happened? Quite suddenly, out of the blue, everything that you valued was taken away.

POLANSKI: One doesn't know how one copes with things like that. At the moment one just has to make a decision: to go on living or end it all. I know that in writing this book I had great difficulty in recalling those moments. I had no difficulty at all in remembering all kinds of details from my childhood, but wherever I really suffered grief in particular, this tragedy I understand now that my mind just tends to reject certain things, to forget them completely. That probably helps me to live with it afterwards.


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