Roman Polanski was born in Paris in 1933 to a Polish father and to a Russian mother, when he was four, the family moved to Krakow in Poland. They were living there in 1939 when World War II broke out, the Polanskis were forced into the Krakow ghetto with thousands of other Polish Jews by the Nazi invaders. Tragically, his parents were always sent to the concentration camps, his father survived but his mother was murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The young Polanski managed to escape the Krakow ghetto with the help of a Polish Roman Catholic farmer who hid him in his outhouses, Polanski later wandered the Polish countryside for the duration of the war, managing to find Shelter and sustenance with Catholic families. After the war, he was re-united with his father and moved back to Krakow. He began to become involved in acting and with the help of the great Polish film director, Andrzej Wajda was accepted into the Lodz Film School.
It soon became apparent that Polanski had found his medium, the short films which he made while there being critically lauded. His first feature, Knife in the Water (1962) was what would become known as pure Polanski; a moody, brooding, smothering piece which explored the dark side of the human psyche and the seedy underbelly that belies human contact and relationships. It was almost all shot and set on the spatially controlled environment of a boat. The movie proved to be an international commercial success and it picked up an Academy nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.