Polanski film comes to Berlin without director

Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:35pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - Roman Polanski's new movie "The Ghost Writer" premiers on Friday at the Berlin film festival, but the director will be staying at home in Switzerland because of a sex case dating back more than 30 years.

Interest in the political thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan has been ramped up since the 76-year-old Oscar winner was arrested in Switzerland in September forcing him to stay away from the prestigious event.

Polanski was involved in post-production on the film while in prison and when he was moved to a chalet in Gstaad under house arrest was still adding the finishing touches.

Robert Harris, whose novel forms the basis of the plot, hopes the movie will be judged on its merits alone, despite the intense media interest in Polanski's legal tussle with the United States over the under-age sex case.

"Of course it is a very unforeseen and distressing situation to offer a film to the public without its director," Harris told the Hollywood Reporter.

"Showing it without him is a bit like having Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. But in a way, it is the best riposte to just show his work. That cannot be confined or silenced. I hope people will see beyond the controversy to the film itself."

Polanski, who made classics like "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" and won an Academy Award for "The Pianist," pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl but fled the United States on the eve of his 1978 sentencing.

He has said he feared the judge would renege on an agreement to sentence him to 42 days he had already served behind bars.   Continued...