The most famous Polish director in the History of Cinema and the most critically acclaimed together with Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Kieslowski. His full name is Rajmund Roman Thierry Polanski. He was born in Paris on 18 August 1933. His father, Ryszard Liebling, was a Polish writer and painter and his Russian mother, Bula Katz-Przedborska, was a housewife. They were both Jewish but converted to Christianity when Roman was a child. However, they considered themselves agnostic. In 1936 the family moved to Krakow in Poland because of the growing anti-Semitism in France. When the Nazis arrived the little family was put into the ghetto. Polanski's mother was deported to Auschwitz where she was killed and his father was taken to Mauthausen. Before his departure, he managed to save Roman by paying a Catholic family to look after him. But instead of keeping him they gave him to some Catholic peasants. As a result of this tragic experience Roman rejected Catholicism. He studied in Lodz, graduating in theatre, acting and directing at the National School of Cinema. Rower (Bicycle) from 1955 was his first short film: a kid wants to buy a bike from a man who then beats and robs him. After several other shorts he finally made his first feature film in 1962: Knife in the Water. A married couple pick up a hitchhiker in their car and invite him onto their sailing boat for a trip, only to realise how dangerous he is. Polanski achieved immediate international success, even appearing on the cover of Time magazine and gaining an Oscar nomination for best foreign film. He left Poland for France where he made one of the episodes of the film The Beautiful Swindlers in 1963. The Italian title is La collana di diamanti. Not happy with that experience, he went to the UK where he made three films, the first of which was the masterpiece Repulsion (1965), starring Catherine Deneuve. A manicurist is left alone at home by her sister. The girl goes through a dangerous psychological change that leads to murder. A cult film full of memorable scenes like the hands that come out of the wall and try to grab the girl. Shown at the Berlin Film Festival, the film earned two awards for Polanski – the Special Jury Prize and the FIPRESCI Prize. His second UK film, made in 1966, was Cul-de-sac with Donald Pleasance and Françoise Dorleac. A wounded gangster arrives at a castle inhabited by a strange couple and forces them into a grotesque game that ends in tragedy. This time he won the Golden Bear at Berlin. In 1967 the vampire comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers achieved great international success. The exteriors were shot in Trentino and Veneto. This was the third collaboration with screenwriter Gerard Brach and was also the film that brought Polanski together with his future second wife, Sharon Tate. He moved to the USA in 1968 and turned out another absolute masterpiece, in this case a horror-satanic genre film. Rosemary's Baby with Mia Farrow influenced countless thriller and horror directors after him – especially Dario Argento – and all 'killer chant' tropes thereafter owe something to the melancholic lullaby in Rosemary's Baby. Not just films but also the satanic novels, including the famous The Exorcist. But the thing that makes the film really disturbing is that it is a very realistic story despite its fantastical demonic theme. (This year, 2014, a miniseries of the story was made, directed, as chance would have it, by Polish director Agnieszka Holland). Frank Sinatra divorced Mia Farrow during the filming but she insisting on carrying on with work on that fateful day. John Cassavetes was chosen for the male lead Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson had been considered. Jane Fonda was first choice for Rosemary but she decided to make Barbarella with Roger Vadim. But the negative power of the story struck the following year in Polanski's own life when his wife Sharon Tate was savagely murdered by the Charles Manson cult. Three years elapsed before he made another film and in 1971 he took on Shakespeare with his own version of Macbeth. His next film was full of fun and humour: What? introduced Sydne Rome and saw Marcello Mastroianni in a histrionic role. Polanski returned to major form with Chinatown in 1974, starring his great friend Jack Nicholson, along with Faye Dunaway. The result measured up to the classic noir films of Bogart. It was no coincidence that director John Huston was among the cast. Polanski himself starred in The Tenant in 1976. It was not a huge hit with the public but remains a great little cult film for fans of the psychological genre. The script was by the great Topor. Tess, adapted from the Thomas Hardy novel, was a big opportunity for Nastassja Kinski and showcased Polanski's skill in adapting great novels. Among the films that followed in the eighties and nineties, the most successful were Frantic with Harrison Ford and Death and the Maiden with an amazing Sigourney Weaver. The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp was instead a clear flop. It is said that in making this film, Polanski borrowed from the horror of his friend Dario Argento, who was in turn indebted to the Pole and years later made Giallo with actor Adrien Brody and Polanski's partner Emmanuelle Seigneur. In 2002 he returned to Poland to shoot The Pianist, the film that won him an Oscar, despite being unable to enter the USA because of the charges against him, still in force, of raping a minor. Two classics in recent years, Oliver Twist and Venus in Furs, as well as an underrated but extremely well made film, The Ghost Writer, with Ewan McGregor. Carnage is perhaps too theatrical and is most interesting for the performances (Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet) than for the tiredness of the story (think of Mike Nichol's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? made forty-five years before).