When Roman Polanski wrote this autobiography, he was still under a pall of pessimism following the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, 15 years earlier. I imagine that a lot has changed in his life since 1984, considering his remarriage and new family. But "Roman by Polanski" is a very readable, articulate, and seemingly candid account of Polanski's childhood in German-occupied Poland, his youth under communism, his professional struggles and emergence as a coveted talent in the 1960s, when he took up a bohemian lifestyle in Hollywood and London. That was shattered, of course, by the murder of 5 people, including his wife, as his L.A. home by the Manson "Family" in August 1969, an event which is often cited as the end of the freewheeling '60s. Polanski later fled the United States over sentencing irregularities in a statutory rape case, and he offers his view of that situation as well.
Polanski recounts the making of his films in varying degrees of detail, from his student productions in Poland through "Tess". At the time he wrote this book, he was burned out on filmmaking and had returned to the stage to play the part of Mozart in Peter Schaffer's play "Amadeus". Polanski lays out the events of his personal and professional life plainly. He has had an interesting life, accentuated by the stark contrasts between communism and capitalism, poverty and wealth, freedom and persecution. Readers may be more curious about Polanski's character, though. He relished his lifestyle, was accused of rape, and so became the libertine that everyone loves to bash. His driving ambition in everything he attempts and his social values, from his reckless generosity to his many lovers, come across as having shaped his life. And they gave him many interesting stories to tell.