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The Pianist

Updated on March 30th, 2019

A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.

In this adaptation of the autobiography “The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945,” Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jewish radio station pianist, sees Warsaw change gradually as World War II begins.

Szpilman is forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, but is later separated from his family during Operation Reinhard. From this time until the concentration camp prisoners are released, Szpilman hides in various locations among the ruins of Warsaw.

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Movie Reviews: “The Pianist

Movie Review: Empire Magazine

The Pianist

The critical consensus on Roman Polanski’s intensely personal Holocaust drama is nigh on universal. Palme d’Or winner, best film at all the major European ceremonies including the BAFTAs, a trio of underdog victories at the Oscars for Polanski, Adrien Brody and screenwriter Ronald Harwood… And proud recipient of two (count ’em, two!) stars in the February (2003) issue of Empire.

For all the august award bodies who seized upon The Pianist with giddy glee ‘Important Director Tackles Big Subject Alert! ‘ it is, in fact, relatively easy to overlook the appeal of what is a disarmingly simple story, shot and structured with lucid transparency.

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Movie Review: Sydney Morning Herald

The Pianist

There’s a difference between authenticity and credibility. Spielberg made a film full of the former, but his characters lacked credibility. He had to imagine what evil looked like, and decided it should be visible on the surface, as movies often do.

In the end, his engrossing movie still felt like a movie. The Holocaust demands something more – a higher standard of reality, perhaps, or the sense of testament. That’s why documentaries have often been more successful at dealing with it; they have the power to bear witness.

With The Pianist, his best movie since Chinatown in 1974, Roman Polanski does just that. He’s telling someone else’s story, but it’s a displaced form of autobiography. “I have never done, and don’t intend to do, anything autobiographical, but making The Pianist, I could use the experiences I went through,” he says.

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Movie Review: Colesmithey

The Pianist

Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” is the director’s finest achievement, and elevates Adrien Brody (Oscar win for Best Actor 2002) to eminence in his representation of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who survived the Nazi occupation of Warsaw.
Polanski himself was orphaned as a 7 year-old boy during the bombing of Warsaw; he escaped through a hole in a barbed wire fence. Polanski uses his familiarity with the horrific subject matter in an unsentimental way to depict an occupation that diminished 10,000 Polish Jews living in Warsaw to 20 over a period of four years.

Based on Szpilman’s memoir, which was suppressed by Poland’s Communist government for 53-years, “The Pianist” follows Szpilman from his job as a pianist for Polish radio, to separation with his family, and into a long period of desperate hiding. The muted heroism of Szpilman’s survival flashes as a fragile and determined pulse in Adrien Brody’s magnificently understated performance.

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