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Plot: 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. Runtime: 150 mins Release Date: 02 Jan 2002
The Pianist is an account of the true life experience of a Polish pianist during WW2, in the context of the deportation of the Jewish community to the Ghetto of Warsaw, a setting virtually absent from all films inspired on WW2. Polanski himself a child survivor of the Krakow and Warsaw ghettos could have described in more detail the legendary, desperate fighting of the Jewish resistance in the ghetto of Warsaw, or the horrific mass extermination in concentration camps. Instead, the film gains in intensity by displaying the war from the pianist's own point of view through windows, <more>
half-opened doors, holes in the walls - with big emphasis on the use of "point of view shooting" by the cameraman . One cannot help feeling disturbed by the most enthralling scenes of the film, as the isolated pianist tries to ensure his survival in the ghetto and ruins of Warsaw, hiding and fleeing, moving from one bombed house to the next, gradually becoming a shadow of his former self, hungry and afraid merit largely attributed to the extraordinary performance by Adrien Brody, who visibly loses half of his weight throughout the film .Does the pianist raise any sympathy from the audience? Not immediately, in my view. The pianist is more than often a drifting character, almost a witness of other people's and his own horrors. He seems to float and drift along the film like a lost feather, with people quickly appearing and disappearing from his life, some helping generously, others taking advantage of his quiet despair, always maintaining an almost blank, dispassionate demeanour. One may even wonder why we should care in the least about this character. But we do care. That is, I believe, the secret to this film's poetry.In one of the strongest scenes, towards the end, a German officer forces the pianist to play for his life, in an episode that suddenly brings a much lighter, beautifully poetic shade to the film this German officer will be probably compared to Schindler, although his philanthropy does not quite share the same basis .This is also a wonderful tribute to Polish artists, through Chopin's music, with the concert at the very end of the film and the opening performance by the pianist at the local radio station with the sound of bomb explosions in the background forming an harmonious link between the beginning and end of the film following Polanski's usual story-frame .Overall, The Pianist is one of the most detailed and shocking accounts of the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis, with the atmosphere in Warsaw well captured and believable. Quite possibly, The Pianist will remain in the history of film-making as the most touching and realistic portraits of the holocaust ever made.Polanski's film deserves a strong presence in the 2003 Oscar nominations, including a nomination for Adrien Brody's amazing performance, Polanski's sublime direction, best adapted screenplay and, obviously, best picture. This could be, at last, Polanski's long awaited, triumphal comeback to the high and mighty Hollywood.
Excellent, depressing, but excellent (by Smells_Like_Cheese)
Man, I can not get this film out of my head. It is so rare that a movie can affect me the way "The Pianst" did. The last movie that did that was "Casino". I was really tired when I was watching the movie. It was almost midnight, so I was thinking that I'll start watching and I'll finish it in the morning. Did I? No, indeed I did not stop watching. I couldn't stop it. I just wanted to see what would happen next. I cried during "Schindler's List", I sobbed in this film. Everything that happens in this film is so sad. Adrien Brody does a remarkable <more>
job of acting in this film. I would very highly recommend this film. Especially if you are a history buff. Please, I think this film should be in the top 10 best films of all time.I looked on the message boards you know and some other user comments that didn't enjoy this film much, they criticized Adrien Brody's performance and say that he was boring and only showed emotions that are easy to act. Please, you have got to be kidding me. This man portrayed the total feeling of hopelessness, being alone, being hated. I one time had an audition in high school like this to see if I could improvise, and the way I imagined this feeling is like in dodgeball where you have no one else on your team and you're the only one left standing, yet on the other team there is 20 big men that are just waiting to wack that ball at you. Adrien couldn't have done a better job, I was so frightened for him and cried for him during the whole film while he was one the run.Roman Polanski as the director, he himself escaped the terrors of being a prisoner in The Holocaust, yet he lost his mother and other family members. Yes, I'm sure this film must have been hard to re create for him, but he was probably the only director that could have done this movie as brilliantly as he did. He created this story and made it so effective, I called up my mom and told her that I loved her so much because we take so many things for granted. True, this isn't the 1930's or 40's, and we are in America. But it's still frightening to think that human beings are capable of that much hate and being so brutal to another human. World War II is one of the most frightening wars in history, if you read more about The Holocaust, you get more into it and you should. If you are not interested, then watch this film. It's a must see, otherwise how else will we learn from our mistakes? The Pianist is a beautiful and extremely dark tale about a man and the struggle to survive. The ending is so powerful and moving to know that sometimes one man can make a difference in a crowd of so many and I'm not talking about Adrien Brody's character. You'll see what I mean.10/10
the best holocaust movie ever made (by 9902439Claessens)
last weekend, I saw Roman Polanski's The Pianist and what a movie. The grizzly reality feeling of the movie shell-shocked me in the first place but later on I recognized the pure feeling of the film: The horror what war does with innocent people truly is. the main story isn't about a war hero, but about people who don't want to die in this madness. Every aspect of the film is really done for an reason and in his place and you don't feel this as entertainment.the music is what hit me the most. the classical tunes had such an enormous impact on me and portrayed the feelings of <more>
the main role of the pianist. The fact that there are no hero's in a war movie is for me more than a welcome benefit. No war in the world should have hero's who can't die. Everybody in this movie can die, every second of it. The scary moments are real scary. bottom line: ten times as realistic as the also brilliant Schindler's list. and twenty times better than Saving private Ryan for the lack of hero's and there is no patriotism at all.ten out of ten, best movie of 2002
terrific movie, if relentlessly gritty and realistic (by baba44713)
I remember seeing "Schindler's list" about ten years ago, and I remember how weird I felt for being almost completely unmoved by it. Although it showed the horrors of holocaust quite realistically, somehow it all seemed just a bit too fake and exaggerated. Characters were a bit off I still can't decide who was more over the top, Schindler or Goeth , fake sentimentalism was all over the place, . While it was a work of art and an important reminder of true events that shouldn't be forgotten, on emotional level it just somehow failed to deliver.Enter "The <more>
Pianist". With no Spielberg around to put his trademark sappy material, we finally have a movie that shows the true horror and tragedy of Jewish people in World War II. The story is told through the eyes of one man - Wladislaw Szpielman, Jewish pianist who works in a radio station in Warsaw during the German occupation of Poland. Together with him we watch his world getting torn apart, witness his family being taken away, his existence being reduced to bare essentials. Brody gives a subtle yet spectacular performance, his best work yet. And never once are we reminded that we are watching a movie. Everything is shown from Szpielman's point of view, and it is all very gritty and realistic. While Spielberg's rendition of German atrocities always had a slightly staged feel to augment their dramatic purpose, here they are so true to life there impact is much greater - you watch and are being reminded in horror that this things actually happened.While being very hard to watch sometimes, this is a movie that "Schindler's List" was supposed to be. This movie doesn't judge anybody, or tries to explain anything - it shows historical events as a reflection of one man's fate, making a powerful testimony that stays with you long after the beautiful last shot and the end credits are over.
Polanski has depicted the gory details of the holocaust without much restraint. But, the most wonderful aspect of the film is that the director has not lost focus of his story and instead of focusing too much on the holocaust horror he has weaved the true-life narrative of survival around devillish happenings.Every single act of escapade Szpilman goes through is depicted like a drop of water on a barren desert. However, the Oasis in the driest desert comes in the end and it is here that Polanski captures the essence of human emotion. I had this very strong urge of jumping into the theater <more>
From Oscar BAFTA winning director Roman Polanski, and based on a true story, this is the great story of one man's struggle to survive, and also his passion of playing the piano. Oscar winning, and BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Adrien Brody plays Wladyslaw Szpilman, an Oscar winning role, he has a passion for playing the piano. He and his family, including Father Frank Finlay and Mother Maureen Lipman are threatened and ordered about by the Nazi Germans to obey their commands, otherwise by shot. It is really disturbing to see the Germans killing Jewish people, and also the state of <more>
places after bombs and stuff. Also starring Thomas Kretschmann as Captain Wilm Hosenfeld, Emilia Fox as Dorota, Ed Stoppard as Henryk, Julia Rayner as Regina, Jessica Kate Meyer as Halina and Michal Zebrowski. The best moments for me are while Wladyslaw has a beard, and is surviving amongst the wreckage of a town, and he plays the piano for a German commander. It won the Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, and it was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Editing and Best Picture, it won the BAFTA for Best Film and the David Lean Award for Direction, and it was nominated for the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music for Wojciech Kilar, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound, and it was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama. It was number 59 on The 100 Greatest Tearjerkers, and it was number 32 on The 100 Greatest War Films. Very good!
The Pianist is the true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, at the time Poland's most acclaimed pianist whose life is transformed during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw beginning in 1939. The film spans several years and maps his many personal trials in addition to providing the perspectives of his family, rebel factions and sympathizers.Brilliantly directed by Roman Polanski and starring an amazing Adrien Brody, The Pianist is bound to garner comparisons to Schindler's List, for obvious reasons. However similar the subject matter, the approach is different. While Schindler's List was <more>
filmed in a beautiful, crisp black and white that offered many incredible images, The Pianist was filmed with almost muted color. Schindler's List featured what has been argued as a complicated hero. Oskar Schindler did save many Jews, but not without battling his own materialistic demons first. The Pianist's Szpilman is a sympathetic character throughout. His plight was desperate, and the demons he fought were over his own guilt in surviving a fight that eventually turns into a primal will to live.Polanski does not spare the viewer any grief with his film. The horrific scenes between the Nazis and the Warsaw Jews were more terrifying and horrible than any horror/suspense movie I have seen in some time, possibly ever. The humiliation and complete loss is wrenching. In several scenes, Jews are lined up in the middle of the night and subjected to either torture or death. In one case, a woman asks of a Nazi officer, "What will happen to us?" and is promptly shot point blank in the head. The camera does not flinch or subdue any of these atrocities.A mention must be made of Brody's performance. Having only previously seen Brody in two other films, Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam" and Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" a part that was supposed to be his launch into stardom before his part was unfortunately cut drastically I knew his potential was great. After his Oscar win, I viewed this movie with more criticism than I normally would have and he certainly did not disappoint. He transcended my expectations. His physical transformation was amazing, but more importantly, he conveyed the sorrow of this man shockingly well - in both verbal and non-verbal contexts. It will be very interesting to see what kind of opportunities this role will afford him, and the kinds of roles he will accept.Something worth mentioning is the affect this movie had on the audience with whom I viewed this film. Normally, when a film ends, the regular hardcore filmsters like myself will stay and watch the credits in their entirety. The rest of the audience stands up and leaves, usually to the chagrin of the remaining enthusiasts. This was one of the few times I have seen a film at a theater where not one person stood to leave during the final credits. It wasn't until the house lights came up at the end did people begin to disperse. Personally, I hightailed it out of the theater the second the lights came on because not only was my face a mess from crying during the film Tammy Faye comes to mind but I had this overwhelming need for an emotional release, so when I reached my car I sat and wept for about five minutes. It has been years since I have watched a film that upset me to that extent. Conversely, while discussing this film with my brother, someone who loves movies as much and has similar tastes as I do he mentioned that while he thought the movie was excellent, he wasn't as profoundly emotionally effected as I was. After thinking about this for a couple of days, I realized the difference: The music. As a classical music enthusiast and erstwhile musician, the thought of not being able to enjoy, much less play the music you love is a tragic one. Then the emotional outpouring that comes when you return to it - there aren't words to describe how intense that is. Not having the same appreciation for this musical genre, one will be able to sympathize with the physical and emotional tribulations, but perhaps not in the musical sense.The Pianist was truly an astonishing film. I was riveted from start to finish and so emotionally affected that I couldn't even consider writing a review until a week later. Having said that, I am filing this away with my list of movies which include Schindlers List and Philadelphia, as films that I love but cannot rewatch for a long time after due to their intensely emotional content.--Shelly
Spoilers herein.Nearly any film is for me a double experience: the watching and the post-coital rumination. That second phase can make the experience worthwhile even when the film itself is ordinary or poorly done.But it works the other way as well, especially when a film is designed for discussion: the film delivered with so many opinions that themselves are ordinary or poorly done. This film comes so charged. Szpilman wasn't `Jewish enough' to be the center of an important holocaust film, goes the most ordinary and loudest of them. I suppose there are some things about the <more>
commingling of descriptive art and definitive life to be said there. But one likes to have more freedom in post-film thoughts and that whole topic is dominated by the sorts of reflexive responses manipulated by film.There's a second prepackaged topic concerning whether `Schindler' was better or `worse.' I don't consider Spielberg's film a holocaust film at all: he lives in a happy world, where justice and right and lots of other happy values always triumph. His observations are always external. His goal is always to tell a story, a stance that furthers the distance between his films and reality. Polanski's project has no story at all, merely a life of accidents. His camera is within the artist's personal space. His own mannerisms are Eastern European and depressed, congruent with what he shows. Speilberg's Schindler really did have the silk unctuousness of the East, but as observed from California. So I credit Polanski's vision as having more historical credibility than Speilberg's, knowing that despite the best efforts of us all to avoid having practical history made by the movie marketplace. One exception, where Polanksi is offensively theatrical: when Szpliman runs from the destroyed hospital, he faces a street of desolation as far as one can see, `High Noon'-wise. Much more interesting to my mind is the portrayal of an artist. Polanski has always been deeply self-referential in his work: always there is an examination of the artist within the art. And I make a minor hobby out of collecting film experiences that do this with music and mathematics because I have some personal experience to work with. For those who don't know: PolandÂ‘s pride is Chopin, who invented a relationship to the piano that not only defined modernity but reinvented everything about musical performance. Film would follow this lead in 1941. Chopin built pieces designed to be bent in performance, designed with empty rooms that a pianist could explore. Unlike, Bach for instance, where the magic of the performance was in attuning to Bach and his intent, the performer of Chopin really could bring his own soul to parity with God. Szpliman was a strong pianist, and therefore more than a national character, instead a reflection of the Polish heart.Here, we watch this man compromise his own pride, eschew his religion, run away from every opportunity for dignity in order to keep his hands warm to play another day; and not just play, but play on the radio for Poles. So during this painful journey, we assume what we are meant to in films about tortured artists: that the pain we are watching will be transmuted by this man into great art that will lift us all. His own personal denigration - what is done to him and the denigrating choices he makes - are worth it overall.This is where the fatal pessimism of Polanski stops, because he doesn't let us know the musical truth. This is not SzpilmanÂ‘s playing of course, but not much unlike him. Szpilman was a `safe' player, one who never had the strength or desire to add much to Chopin. That's why he was on the radio: his `interpretations' were unchallenging and palatable. But he would never have been considered an artist of note at all if he had not survived the perfect brutality of the Germans, whose own music, though sentimental was constrained in ways that Chopin's never was. The payoff is supposed to be that after his trials, the artist is now - theoretically - capable of expressing the pain and yearning of the world. That we are meant to so think is clear from the end, where he plays with the glow of Dreyfuss from `Music of the Heart.'Ah, but not so. The sound we actually hear throughout is by Olejniczak, a similarly ordinary man. Szpilman did not in fact come through a better artist, but much worse: a meek pianist. `Shellshocked,' postwar contemporaries would say. Contrast this with Artur Rubinstein. Jewish Pole of the previous generation, and the first giant to explore Chopin's rubato. He had his own dark nights, but not because the world was inhospitable. Listen to his recordings freely available compared to SzpilmanÂ‘s hard to get or even OlejniczakÂ‘s on the soundtrack. These are two different universes. One is merely pleasant, the other life-altering.Polanski has made some great films including the under-appreciated `Ninth Gate' , and his thinking through of the intellectual reach of a project is extensive but he has ultimately let us down here. Implicit in much of modern Jewishness is the triumph of enrichment of the people through their tribulation. Perhaps that is true, but this film undermines the idea when selecting Szpilman as metaphor.Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
Film makers have to step carefully when dealing with issues like the Nazi extermination program. There have been equally brutal programs of ethnic cleansing in places like Southeast Asia and Rwanda, in which hundreds of millions died, but nothing like this in Europe since the Middle Ages. The victims here were not only Jews but Gypsies, the mentally ill, homosexuals, socialists, communists, and political undesirables. The Nazis eliminated not six million but some uncountable number between 12 and 15 million. An event like that can't be treated lightly and milked for easy tears, or the <more>
event itself is cheapened.Fortunately, the films that have explored the subject have been uniformly well done, as Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" is well done. Polanski himself suffered in much the same way as the protagonist, Vlad Szpilman Adrien Brody . Polanski has a habit of embellishing his tales but there's no question that in this instance he knows what he's talking about.Szpilman is a well-known young pianist on Warsaw radio but the German occupation puts the station out of business. He and his family are herded into the Warsaw ghetto where they are subject to constant abuse and occasional murder. Szpilman barely escapes being sent to Treblinka with the rest of his family. And for the last half of the film, with the help of some friends who endanger themselves by lending him aid, he scuttles rat-like from one hiding place to another, each more dismal and perilous than the last. He suffers jaundice, his hair and beard grow long, his clothes turn to tatters, his food disappears, he's half frozen, and he seems to shrink.He's reduced to living in the attic of a nearly demolished apartment building and is ecstatic to discover a gallon can of pickles overlooked on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet. The can falls out of his hands while he tries to open it and rolls across the floor to come to rest at the boots of a German officer, Captain Hosenfeld Thomas Kretschmann . The only Germans we've seen so far have been brutes -- ridiculing the insane, executing Jews who ask simple questions, or simply shooting people chosen at random.We expect nothing from Hosenfeld except a quick shooting. But Hosenfeld is a human being and, having discovered that Szpilman "is" -- or rather "was" -- a pianist, he asks him to play a piano left in one of the flats. Szpliman has been unable to play for years and when he seats himself we worry that he might not bring it off and, indeed, his first chords are tentative, uncertain. Then his playing becomes automated, the old habits return, and he dashes off a dramatic and exquisitely executed piece of Chopin. Hosenfeld has been leaning back, enjoying the music, then leaves Szpilman quietly to his attic. He returns a few times later, before the Germans withdraw before the Russians, and unceremoniously hands him a few packages of food and, finally, his overcoat. The matter-of-fact compassion shown by Hosenfeld, and Szpilman's desperate need for contact with another human, are very moving.When the Russian troops finally arrive, Szpilman stumbles out of his hovel to greet them, but seeing his overcoat the Russians open fire on him. Szpilman finally convinces them that he is a Pole, not a German, and one of the befuddled soldiers asks, "Then why the ****ing coat?" Szpilman is trembling with fear but manages to gulp, "I was cold." An epilogue tells us that Szpilman went on with his career and Hosenfeld wound up in a Soviet prison camp where he died in 1952, despite Szpilman's attempt to find him. Under the end credits, a smiling Szpilman plays a lively, sparkling composition by Chopin.It's a remarkable film. Polanski is no longer the Wunderkind but a mature film maker. Nothing is excessive. We need only as much as we need to know to understand Szpilman's travails -- one tragedy following another. There are no sentimental speeches at the final parting of Szpilman and his family. Szpilman himself never breaks down. He simply does what needs to be done to survive. And Adrien Brody captures what Szpilman must have been like. From some angles he resembles the young Arthur Rubenstein. Kretschmann gets Hosenfeld down pat as well. In their scenes together we sense their respective positions -- one man with nothing left to lose, the other with nothing left to gain. The story, and the historical facts it's based on, raise many questions about human nature, of course. I'm not at all sure that if we could find the answers to those questions we would like what we found.One of the better films of the year.