The Pianist (2002)

The Pianist (2002)
  • Time: 150 min
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | History
  • Director: Roman Polanski
  • Cast: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay


The true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman who, in the 1930s, was known as the most accomplished piano player in all of Poland, if not Europe. At the outbreak of the Second World War, however, Szpilman becomes subject to the anti-Jewish laws imposed by the conquering Germans. By the start of the 1940s, Szpilman has seen his world go from piano concert halls to the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw and then must suffer the tragedy of his family deported to a German concentration camps, while Szpilman is conscripted into a forced German Labor Compound. At last deciding to escape, Szpilman goes into hiding as a Jewish refugee where he is witness to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (April 19, 1943 – May 16, 1943) and the Warsaw Uprising (1 August to 2 October 1944).

One comment

  • Roman Polanski’s THE PIANIST is the director’s most personal film, a testament that focuses on a real-life character’s artistic gift and how it lead to a story of survival set in a difficult time period.

    Oscar winner Adrien Brody stars as the brilliant pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who experiences the cruel hardships of the Nazi occupation of his country and witnesses the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. Throughout his desperate, difficult journey he struggles to stay with his family and to stay alive throughout all these horrors, finally escaping the Warsaw Ghetto and eluding capture from the Germans, as well as from informers, among the many ruins of Warsaw.

    However, it is really Szpilman’s musical gift that saves his life, and it is given a full appreciative treatment here, especially during a scene where Spzilman proves his talent towards a German army officer. His musical talents are evident again in the film’s end credits. The film’s music largely consists of pieces by Frederick Chopin, some of them played by Brody himself.

    Since Polanski used much thought and care in the process and wanted to take as little dramatic license as possible, the production design is surprisingly authentic, realistic, and historically accurate here. The only obvious flaw I noticed in the film was that the insignia on the helmets of SS soldiers was reversed. But this is a minor quibble, especially coming from an amateur historian of the time period. Interestingly, some static camera shots are filmed exactly like the real-life photographs of the event. Also, some events from Polanski’s own childhood experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto have been added here for dramatic effect.

    As a result, this is a very moving, haunting film that does not descend into sentimentality and will stay with you for years. Through Szpilman’s eyes, Polanski shows us everything the Nazis tried to achieve to those they have oppressed. Brody’s performance is very natural and moving—even when he secretly displays deep sorrow at the horrors around him, you’d want to share that on-screen feeling with him, too.

    This is truly an extraordinary film, and a loving tribute to a survivor of a terrible event and to the music that saved him.

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