Letter to Polanski

This afternoon I sent the following to a person who may very well be and most likely is Roman Polanski. This person identified himself in a 7.17 HE thread as “RRT Polanski,” and expressed himself in such a way that I’m 85% to 90% persuaded it’s probably from the Real McCoy:

“Roman — This is a response to what appears may be a legitimate post from you on a 7.17 Hollywood Elsewhere comment thread about my mistaken belief (which I’ve since admitted to) that Rosemary’ Baby was once composed and issued on home video at the aspect ratio of 1.66 to 1.

“You wrote that while my ‘righteous fury amuses [you] beyond measure,’ you feel ‘under the obligation to scholars and in defence [sic] of [your] magnificent friends at Criterion to set the matters right. Rosemary’s Baby is being released by Criterion in 1.85:1 because that is the aspect ratio I directed the film to have, because that is the aspect ratio that I prefer, and because that is the aspect ratio I insisted upon.’

“You added that ‘while there was protection in the filming for the possibility of inadvertent projection at 1.66:1, it was never my intention to allow such projection if I could maintain control of the circumstance of projection. This film is and will always be properly framed at 1.85:1.’

“If you’re really Roman Polanski. as you seem to be, I’ve obviously been chastised and bitch-slapped here, and I humbly admit error (as I did yesterday) in insisting that 1.66 is, or should be, the proper aspect ratio for your 1968 film. It’s your film, your call, and I defer to your judgment and authority.

“Except on some level, and I’m speaking in a purely conversational way here, I can’t entirely do that. Not wholeheartedly. I know for a fact that William Fraker, your Rosemary’s Baby dp, was a gifted man with a great eye, and I completely trust (and on some level recall. perhaps due to some viewing of Rosemary’s Baby at 1.66 in a Paris revival theatre) that what he captured within that protected 1.66 aspect ratio was aesthetically pleasing and balanced. I am what you might call a ‘light, air and breathing space’ kind of guy, and I believe that Rosemary’s Baby would be somewhat more pleasing (to me anyway) if it was cropped around…oh, let’s say 1.75 to 1. Just a little bit of breathing room. No biggie.

Who am I to tell you what aspect ratio I prefer when you’ve clearly stated what you like and what you’ve firmly decided and that this is the end of it and shut up? Well, first of all we’re just talking here. Secondly, I’m a bigmouth. But thirdly, having been a film fanatic all my life and a licensed projectionist for a brief period in the early ’80s, I am seriously mesmerized by the right kind of motion picture framing for films that I love and respect, and I guess I’m caught up in a belief that I know a thing or two about what looks right.

“I don’t mean to imply that I know better, but deep down I sort of feel that…how can I put this? I feel that what I believe in this matter has a certain validity. I’m obviously not ‘right’ and you, the creator of Rosemary’s Baby, are certainly not ‘wrong,’ of course. But there’s a little man inside who wants to nudge up the frame height when I watch your film. Just a little bit. Anyway, that’s what I was trying to say the other day before I admitted error on this matter. The little man tells me what to say, and I just say it. Because the little man knows.

“I also believe very passionately what I said about the steak in that get-together scene between Mia Farrow, John Cassevettes, Ruth Gordon and Sydney Blackmer. I don’t have a Rosemary’s Baby DVD with me right now and I haven’t seen the Criterion Bluray transfer, but I’ve been led to believe by a source who has examined the film closely that the viewer may — I say ‘may’ — not be able to see the steak they’re eating. Again — I don’t know that the steak is missing, but I’ve heard that it may be. And if that turns out to be true when the Criterion Bluray comes out, I very respectfully don’t think that’s right.

“Anyway, it was good to hear from you, even under this circumstance. I humbly accept your criticism that my passionate argumentative tone strikes you as fascistic. I will try to keep this in mind during future debates over aspect ratios.”

“Regards, Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere

APPARENT 7.17 POLANSKI COMMENT: “A colleague has made me aware of the discussion under way here, and while it amuses me beyond measure, I feel under the obligation to scholars and in defence of my magnificent friends at Criterion to set the matters aright. “Rosemary’s Baby” is being released by Criterion in 1.85:1 because that is the aspect ratio I directed the film to have, because that is the aspect ratio that I prefer, and because that is the aspect ratio I insisted upon. While there was protection in the filming for the possibility of inadvertent projection at 1.66:1, it was never my intention to allow such projection if I could maintain control of the circumstance of projection. This film is and will always be properly framed at 1.85:1. And Mr. Wells, while I admire your sense of righteous fury, let me say to you that I know a little bit about fascism, and disagreeing with you is not the hallmark. However, your response to disagreement looks familiar. Polanski” — i.e., RRTPolanski.

  • Ray

    Roman Polanski left a comment here?

    SRSLY JEFF?

    A sockpuppet sweet talks you, and you believe it?

    You do know you ARE on the internet…… right?

    BELIEVE NOTHING. TRUST NO ONE.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I have his email and I wrote him back to confirm the validity, but I’m 85% to 90% persuaded that the 7.17 comment in question is legit.

  • Jesse Crall

    This is one of Jeff’s more respectful double-downs. Gotta say, I’m a little disappointed :(

    @Ray: Whoever sent Wells the “Polanski” comment would have to leave an e-mail and an IP address, so Jeff could probably tell if it was coming from France or Wherethefuck, Alabama.

  • Danny King

    This is AWESOME.

  • Floyd Thursby

    According to Roger Lewis’ bio of Peter Sellers, during a party in Rome, Sellers thought someone was staring too intently at Britt Ekland, jumped him, and began choking the poor man. Polanski intervened to pull Sellers off the victim. Similarly, here we have RoPo as would-be peacemaker/voice of reason.

  • JLC

    If that really was Polanski, this is the greatest moment in the history of HE. The only thing that would have made it better would have been for it to be John Huston, who would have come to Jeff’s house and decked him.

  • jujuju

    A colleague has made me aware of the discussion under way here, and while it amuses me beyond measure, I feel under the obligation to inform you that I, in fact, am the real Roman Polanski.

    Mr. Wells, while I admire your trusting candor I must tell you it is the result of nothing more than pure naivete. You, sir, will believe anything. Of this I am 85.6% to 90.7% persuaded.

    Regards,
    RRTPolanski

    ps — I go by the monicker ‘jujuju’ because it’s cute and was the name of a beloved gold fish I had when I was a kid.

    I had wanted a puppy but was denied this by my somewhat dowdy parents who were 99% persuaded it would be against my best interests. This, clearly, is the beginning of a long story that would be far too laborious to pursue in this forum. I shall spare you.

  • Eloi Wrath

    I hope Polanski stuck around for a while and read some of the other threads devoted to him over the past couple of years….

  • Ray

    “@Ray: Whoever sent Wells the “Polanski” comment would have to leave an e-mail and an IP address, so Jeff could probably tell if it was coming from France or Wherethefuck, Alabama. ”

    Probably. If Jeff knew what an IP address was.

    (I keed. No not really. For if Jeff DID know how to check an IP address he’d know how to BAN people via their IP address something he refuses to do).

  • Ray

    “I hope Polanski stuck around for a while and read some of the other threads devoted to him over the past couple of years….”

    TOO TRUE. You think that if he’d call his lawyer Wells a fascist wonder what words he’d call the rest of us?

  • chimbondasgloves

    Can you see Mia Farrow’s socks in the steak scene? If not the print is invalid. Why would you put socks on a person if you can’t see them in the shot? IT MAKES NO SENSE.

    William Fraker is a DP who will show literally every part of a scene.

    Trust me, I am him.

  • Zach

    Hah. Wells got McLuhan’d by Polanski.

  • dino velvet

    That dude was dope in Rush hour 3.

  • Cadavra

    I looked up his full name, and it’s Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański, which at the very least matches the initials. If it’s a scam, it’s a pretty darn good one.

  • dangovich

    Roman, no love for Jeff’s battles against the pitchforkers?

  • Krillian

    I miss Hickenlooper sometimes.

  • C.C. Baxter

    “the little man knows”

    He sure does, and he told you his film should be shown at 1.85.

    “I humbly accept your criticism that my passionate argumentative tone strikes you as fascistic.”

    Polanski was NOT saying that your tone strikes him as fascistic. He was saying that it’s obnoxious that you keep referring to those who disagree with you as fascists. He and his family have experienced the terror of actual fascism, and throwing the term around to denigrate those who disagree with you about aspect ratios is callous and ignorant.

  • Raising_Kaned

    @Cadavra — if you can look it up on the Internet, so can any other random schmoe (no offense intended at all to you personally, of course).

    I agree with everything Ray says in comment #1, although you never really know (the “colleague” part at least makes some semblance sense — there’s no way on Earth the dude’s just scouring the Internet for film news or Googling his own name; all of his online time is devoted to…well, we’re all making up our own jokes in our heads now, aren’t we?).

  • mat

    Jesus, when did the comments section become so weak? I haven’t really checked out most of the commenting since Lex G hijacked the site a while back and good god has it become a gutter. I’m a fan of Wells – the writing, the personality, the flaws, the insight – that’s why I read his site. Then on the off-chance that I scroll past the actual article I’m treated to some of the least inspired, needling trolls on the internet. For chrissakes, he gave you a passionate post about aspect ratio (a legitimate subject for this site), had a response from Roman fucking Polanski and 80% of the comments are useless. That’s just embarrassing. Look, you don’t have to agree or like Wells – he seems pretty self-aware and more than capable of taking care of himself – but could you at least come with something a little bit better? I could handle every third or fourth comment being snide and pointless as long as it’s interspersed with some intelligent film conversation. And I know I’ll probably get reamed for even bothering to post this, but someone has to say it because this amateur-hour bullshit needs to stop. If you have a new and clever angle in pointing out the many ways you think this site is a joke, by all means fire away. Otherwise, write it down on a piece of paper and keep it to yourself. Seriously Jeff, you need a stricter blocking policy. These people are fucked.

  • Raising_Kaned

    “I also believe very passionately what I said about the steak in that get-together scene between Mia Farrow, John Cassevettes, Ruth Gordon and Sydney Blackmer. I don’t have a Rosemary’s Baby DVD with me right now and I haven’t seen the Criterion Bluray transfer, but I’ve been led to believe by a source who has examined the film closely that the viewer may — I say ‘may’ — not be able to see the steak they’re eating. Again — I don’t know that the steak is missing, but I’ve heard that it may be.”

    Lulz…has he gone completely and totally mad? After reading this passage, I’m starting to get the inclination that TDKR might actually suck major ass!

  • Betterman

    That is awesome.

  • Pete Apruzzese

    Here’s a better version of your note to RRTP:
    —-
    Roman — This is a response to what appears may be a legitimate post from you on a 7.17 Hollywood Elsewhere comment thread about my mistaken belief that Rosemary’ Baby was once composed and issued on home video at the aspect ratio of 1.66 to 1.

    If you’re really Roman Polanski, I humbly admit error in insisting that 1.66 is, or should be, the proper aspect ratio for your 1968 film. It’s your film, your call, and I defer to your judgment and authority. -JW
    —-

  • C.C. Baxter

    Just the other day, when you thought the old Paramount DVD was 1.66, you said, “[Polanski] clearly shot Rosemary’s Baby with a 1.66 a.r. in mind — [b]the DVD shows that each and every frame is exquisitely composed[/b] at that particular shape.”

    So, on Monday, the DVD, which turned out to be in exactly the same 1.85 ratio Criterion will use was “exquisitely composed.” What happened to it during the past three days that makes you think it looks wrong now?

    And no, the DVD is absolutely not 1.78. Ron Smith is mistaken. It is a 1.78 transfer with a 1.85 image windowboxed inside of it.

  • Ghost of Kazan

    Ferris Bueller on line two, Mr. Wells.

  • MickTravisMcGee

    A guy I’m 82-94 percent certain is Orson Welles just wrote to tell me there’s a full cut of “Ambersons” in Sydney, Australia.

    Booking my flight in the morning.

  • Kakihara

    Could be a Criterion rep speaking on behalf of Polanski.

  • Travis Actiontree

    Jeff: “YOU’RE Roman Polanski, ‘sausage king’ of Chicago?”

  • Gussie Finknottle

    CC Baxter – I think Jeff is reading the ‘Polanski’ post correctl.y. “However, your response to disagreement looks familiar” was clearly implying Jeff was guilty of the fascistic tendencies he constantly evoked to damn his opponents (ie pretty much everyone else) during the whole argument.

    Jeff – can you tell us what it is that is convincing you this is legit?

  • FlashDust

    Roman Polanski called Jeff a Fascist so we can all go home now.

    This site will never be the the same again.

    Well done Mr. Polanski, Mia Farrow’s clever little son, Adrian, or whoever you are.

  • Ira Parks

    RRTPOLANSKI SAYS…

    Thanks to the enthusiasm of Ballsworth, I took in a matinee of BATTLESHIP. It was insultingly stupid, yes, but took my mind off the problems I’m having with the first act of my current picture.

  • Alobar

    Roman – SO WHERE’S THE BEEF?

  • Ray

    “Otherwise, write it down on a piece of paper and keep it to yourself.”

    Good advice. You go first.

  • Floyd Thursby

    I am Spartacus.

  • Ghost of Kazan

    How are we doing now, mat? Or should I say…Jeffrey?

  • Tristan Eldritch2

    This has to be a wind-up all the way down. Wells may have sent the message himself.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    It’s very likely a genuine message from the Real McCoy. As was my reply & vice versa. Nobody’s winding anyone up.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    It’s very likely a genuine message from the Real McCoy. As was my reply & vice versa. Nobody’s winding anyone up.

  • Bob Furmanek

    I’ve noticed our website has very recently gotten some hits from France.

    Hmmm….

    Bob Furmanek
    http://www.3dfilmarchive.com

  • Ghost of Kazan

    I think I like your movie very much! Si vous etes interesses par le dossier, ou desirez en savoir plus, contactez-moi par mail, et je vous mettrai en contact:

    http://www.franceproxy.org

  • Sasha Stone

    It was probably Polanski but he probably emailed the comment to someone who then posted it here.

  • Sasha Stone

    p.s, the fascist line is rad. I’d print the comment, jeff, and frame it.

  • Michael

    Obviously your reply was genuine, it was vintage Wells: Spending numerous paragrpahs beating around the bush, claiming to respect Polanskis decision yet basically saying: “I know what I know and because I was a projectionist once I know better than you what your film should look like”…..

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