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The Pianist
UK, Germany, France, Poland
Drama, Biography, History, War
IMDB rating:
Roman Polanski
Adrien Brody as Wladyslaw Szpilman
Thomas Kretschmann as Captain Wilm Hosenfeld
Frank Finlay as Father
Maureen Lipman as Mother
Emilia Fox as Dorota
Ed Stoppard as Henryk
Julia Rayner as Regina
Wanja Mues as SS Slapping Father
Richard Ridings as Mr. Lipa
Nomi Sharron as Feather Woman
Anthony Milner as Man Waiting to Cross
Lucy Skeaping as Street Musician
Roddy Skeaping as Street Musician
Ben Harlan as Street Musician
Storyline: A brilliant pianist, a Polish Jew, witnesses the restrictions Nazis place on Jews in the Polish capital, from restricted access to the building of the Warsaw ghetto. As his family is rounded up to be shipped off to the Nazi labor camps, he escapes deportation and eludes capture by living in the ruins of Warsaw.
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Very disturbed
I give this movie a 9. Now, perhaps it is because TP zoomed in on the struggles of one man instead of a nation, I found myself so disturbed I could not sleep. I have watched "Shindlers List"5-6 times, but never was so shaken up emotionally or physically as I was when I watched The Pianist. Oh I saw it once, and that was enough for me. A wonderful movie, so sad, yet exhilarating at the end watching him play the piano with the sympthomy. A wonderful movie of the help of a few for one man, his dark hellish life during this time, yet living through it, a changed man, with raised scars that I am sure criss-crossed in and on his heart. Once was enough for me.. but am glad I finally saw the movie.
My favorite WWII movie
Yes that may be an overstatement and I haven't seen Schindler's List yet. But still this is my favorite WWII even after seeing Saving Private Ryan.

The movie does an excellent job of portraying the very talented Jewish piano player, Wladyslaw Szpilman. He starts out as a nice and honorable piano player for the local radio. But as the Nazis invade Poland his live gets more and more difficult. After numerous changes including armbands declaring their Jewish, confining them to a very small area, basically starving them.

He does what he can to survive and eventually get's taken away from his family which brings out this whole spree of bad luck for him. He works hard labor building a wall and gets beaten there. He gets outside of the dreaded wall and gets moved into an apartment. Complications eventually force him to move to a different one. Then the uprising of the Jews begins and he is forced to live in an abandoned hospital then in a destroyed town. He there meets a kind Nazi General who helps him. Until the Russians come in.

I think it's important to note Wladysaw's evolution in the movie. He starts out as, like I said before, an honorable guy. Then he starts becoming, as the Nazi's start cracking down, instead of a nice guy he becomes this food scrounging guy who has a limp and is desperate for anything. It's kind of comical and very sad at the end he has this can of vegetables that he carries around because its his only source of food. He holds it in a way which makes it seem like it's his baby.

In conclusion, the directing, acting, lighting, visuals, everything about this movie is great it explores the struggle to survive and the cruelty of man towards a certain race all because of a scapegoat. It is currently my favorite WWII and goes up there with the great WWII movies like, Saving Private Ryan.
Vastly over-rated and highly simplistic
With a rating of 95 percent at Rotten Tomatoes and a place in the top 50 at IMDB I was expecting this to be a challenging film about the Holocaust. This however was not it. All this film says about the Holocaust was that life was tough then, little else. This is a rather obvious truth for everyone except Holocaust deniers, so why spend two hours telling us this. The film has story that is much too conventional and one that unfortunately lacks any great meaning.

The depiction of the Germans is perhaps the most straightforward you are likely to see. All you get is a bunch of stereotypical cinematic Nazis without any subtlety, until the final twenty minutes, when, SPOILER, Spillman runs into perhaps the only good German in all of Poland, if you go by the depiction of the Germans up to this point, who allows Spillman to escape.

This film simply alludes to some major questions instead of going into any depth. It shows a Jewish character who was from a certain point of view helping the Nazis, yet we do not see why this character is doing what he is doing. At least not in any depth.

One of the most remarkable things about this film is that it is about a Pianist, someone you would expect would have a soul. However, Spillman is simply a non-character which makes him being a pianist seem rather superfluous. This, however like the rather brief reference to the Merchant of Venice seems to be Polanski's main tool in this film: to allude to things that are deep and worthwhile, while saying nothing of the sort himself.

A brief glimpse through some of the reviews will find that a lot of critics have a rather simplistic view of the Third Reich, which may explain why they liked this rather simplistic film. One critic wrote that the Nazis were for barbarism and challenged everything that was beautiful and pure. This in turn would lead them to oppose Spillman and his profession: the professional pianist. This, however is not a rather simplistic view of the Nazi regime. The music that the Nazis opposed most strongly was modern music, in particularly the atonalism of the sort written by the great composer Schoenberg. This music was viewed by the Nazis as being crude. Hitler, himself was Wagner fanatic. However, the issue of Wagner opens up a lot of major historical issues that I can't go into. If, as some film critics are implying that this film is saying these things about the Third Reich, then I think this is a sad reflection of the intellectual state of modern critics. Although we may find The Third Reich totally repulsive we must not take the simplistic that it was a place where all great music was neglected, with the same being true for the Soviet Union. These regimes had a particular view of what was great in music, and a lot of these composers, the German composers admired by the Nazis and the Russian composers who worked within the Soviet regime are greats in music. The important thing to realise is that these regimes idealised music and other works of art and that is where the problem lies. The thinking behind this was quite often quite complex, with thinkers such as Hegel leading the way. Personally, I thought that the film made no such comment on the Third Reich, but if it did I find little validity in it.
Lacks a bit of character development and not as powerful as I expected it to be
This is a well crafted movie that deserves some praise, but I still felt the film is a bit overrated. I guess it's cause I was expecting a phenomenal and amazing movie, but what I got was a pretty good movie. It just wasn't as powerful or compelling as I thought it would be. Adrien Brody was almost perfect for this role, his transition from being a prideful musician to a broken down man was done really well. This film just wasn't all that challenging, the plot is basically based on a true story of Władysław Szpilman(Adrien Brody). And his struggle to survive during the Holocaust. The thing is the whole thing seems a bit conventional a lot of aspect of this movie just seemed to narrow at times and straightforward which isn't necessarily a good thing and lack depth. The film also seemed to drag a bit because of the direction it kept going, it's a good movie and I agree with some of the positive feedback this film has been getting. It just isn't a powerful or amazing film I was looking forward to seeing, not one of those movies I feel I need to see again someday after it's finished. It really isn't a masterpiece like come critics claim it to be.

JAHM (Just Another Holocaust Movie). It shows nothing new, it is no more realistic in its portrayal than many other movies (and nothing like as good as Schindler's list). It shed no new light on the subject and compared to Schindler's list is dull, tedious, mediocre and plain boring.

It's redeeming features? Good acting, reasonable characterization and a few snatches of beautiful music. If you have never seen a holocaust movie then it will probably appear quite powerful and moving, but set against the best of them, it offers little.

One of the most overrated movies of 2002 and I am quite peeved I wasted my money on it.

"You musicians don't make good conspirators."
Fortunately, I'm able to keep my personal feelings about Roman Polanski compartmentalized enough to say that this was a remarkable film. I've read many comparisons between "The Pianist" and "Schindler's List" on this board, and even though the films are quite different, the overpowering portrayals of Man's inhumanity against Man will leave the viewer forever affected. Adrien Brody's Best Actor award was stunningly achieved here, as his character arcs through an incredible series of circumstances to barely survive life in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. What little I knew of director Polanski outside of his marriage to Sharon Tate, the grisly Manson murders, and his rape conviction in the late 1970's, was put into an entirely different perspective when I learned about his own life in the Polish Ghetto. Much of what we see in the film must emanate from his own unique experience as a child during the War and experiencing Nazi atrocity first hand. I don't envy anyone who survived that experience enduring the painful daily memories of those times.

Given the film's title, I guess I was somewhat surprised by the paucity of musical sequences, though what was offered was artistically presented. Particularly poignant was the scene when Wladyslaw Szpilman (Brody) was left to hide in an apartment where a piano was available, and he mimed his way through a selection from memory by the need to maintain silence.

Many years following the end of World War II, a single film cannister simply marked "The Ghetto" was discovered, revealing valuable insight into how the Nazi propaganda machine attempted to manipulate public opinion about 'rich' Jews who lived in luxury alongside fellow Jews in squalid conditions. Even more intimate details of life in the Warsaw Ghetto are presented in "Shtikat Haarchion" (A Film Unfinished), describing conditions that are even more horrific than those depicted in "The Pianist" or "Schindler's List", if that can even be imagined. These movies exist for a higher calling as a constant reminder that the term "Never Again" be one to constantly take seriously in an ever increasingly dangerous world.
The Pianist is a great story with one of the best performances from an actor
The Pianist's story is one that grips the viewer and takes them on a gut wrenching ride. Adrain Brodie's performance as the Jewish piano player is one to remember, that is not to say that every other actor in the film was not good in this case they were all great. Even to the smallest characters that are only on screen for a matter of seconds are up to par. Also having the film be based off of a book adds to the amount of detail that the director has put into the film. I am talking about the things Adrian Brodie's character sees throughout the streets during this hard time for him. In the end The Pianist is a great story that is accompanied by great performances. The story of the Holocaust is a topic that should and will not be forgot and The Pianist keeps those who lost their lives in memory.
I gave the DVD to a friend after watching...
It is a few years since I saw this movie in the cinema and I remembered how powerful I thought it was. Well at the second viewing on DVD it was still as powerful and haunting - however I say this with a great deal of respect to Polanski - I will never watch this movie again.

You know the feeling you have when you just had an awful day at work, had some horrible news from a friend and there is reports about a natural disaster that have devastated the life of thousands on the news. All you want to do is get a bit of escape from reality with a nice movie in the evening. A word of advice - Do not watch the Pianist.

Yes is is a masterpiece - but oh so depressing. If however you are in need of some historical realism and a good cry - well I did warn you.

This movie made me realize that I like comedies....
Pure awesomeness
A great movie on a powerful, essential subject -- the Holocaust years in Poland -- directed with such artistry and skill that, as we watch, the barriers of the screen seem to melt away. The closing scenes of the movie involve Szpilman's confrontation with a German captain named Wilm Hosenfeld -- Polanski's direction of this scene, his use of pause and nuance, is masterful. Szpilman takes to performing sonatas in thin air, eyes closed, those jittery fingers stroking nothing but air. It's a wonderful moment in a wonderful, ghastly film, and one of the most moving arguments for the redemptive powers of art ever made. Crafted without a whiff of melodrama, this motion picture takes a steady, unflinching look at the plight of Jews in Warsaw. Polanski, who was a Jewish child in Krakow when the Germans arrived in September 1939, presents Szpilman's story with bleak, acid humor and with a ruthless objectivity that encompasses both cynicism and compassion.

VERDICT: "High-Quality Stuff" - This is a rating to a movie I view as very entertaining and well made, and definitely worth paying the full price at a theater to see or own on DVD. It is not perfect, but it is definitely excellent. (Films that are rated 3.5 or 4 stars)
Dark, epic and moving
In this dark, epic and moving film, the suffering of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto is brought to life. Brody's performance, for which he won an Oscar, is breathtaking. With understated and fine-tuned acting, he portrays Władysław Szpilman, a talented Polish Jewish pianist who struggles to survive during the German occupation of Poland. The characters were very realistic, because they were not just good or bad--the Jews had mixed reactions toward the violence in the ghettos, the Poles helping the Jews escape had varying motives (some slightly dubious), a Nazi officer aided Szpilman near the end of the movie. The slow infiltration of anti-Semitism is portrayed realistically--first, Szpilman's family must wear stars of David on their arms, a seemingly harmless requirement. However, the Nazis' demands quickly escalate and soon the family is forced into the Warsaw ghetto. What began with a star on a coat sleeve culminates in Szpilman's family being taken to the ghetto, and then later to a concentration camp. My favorite scene is when Szpilman is confined to an empty apartment with a piano. Unable to make any noise, he sits down and runs his fingers along the keys as if playing. We hear the music, but see only his fingers making patterns across the keys. This scene is brilliantly directed and in a way symbolizes the Poland that Szpilman once knew, now forever changed by the Holocaust.
See Also
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