Screenwriter Ronald Harwood defends Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s new thriller The Ghost has its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival tomorrow. The director will not be there, of course. Instead he is wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, under house arrest in Switzerland, fighting extradition to America. Meanwhile, in London, Polanski’s great friend and collaborator the British screenwriter Ronald Harwood is running up a large phone bill every week to Polanski’s chalet-prison in Gstaad. The director, Harwood says, is “amazingly cheerful”.

Harwood is one of the quiet heroes of our film industry. He takes his responsibilities, moral and creative, seriously. He won an Oscar for the script for Polanski’s The Pianist, about a Jewish musician struggling to survive in the Warsaw ghetto, and has accepted a commission from Steven Spielberg to write the screenplay of the life of Martin Luther King — a daunting opportunity, given the opinionated camps of the American civil rights movement.

Life, as Harwood knows, is never black and white, and his interest in the nuanced shades of grey between right and wrong have increasingly emerged in his work.

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Directors, Screenwriting


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