The Pianist (2002)

Biography, Drama, History, War
Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Emilia Fox
A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.
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Well-acted and dramatically moving, The Pianist is Polanski's best work in years.
  • Focus Features Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 28 Mar 2003 Released:
  • 27 May 2003 DVD Release:
  • $32.5M Box office:

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Trailer:

the best holocaust movie ever made10/10

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 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
10 out of 1010/10

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, 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.
A haunting film, one that you won't forget5/10
I can remember when this film came out I was adamantly against seeing it. I had my preconceived notions that it would be some other heroic Jewish Holocaust film where good triumphs over evil and in between we would see some brutal atrocities committed by the Germans to add some flavour.

How wrong I was.

This is one of the best films I have ever seen and what it did to me I cannot describe in words. But in a nutshell, it moved me, made me cry, made me feel like I was in the Polish ghetto in 1940, and ultimately made me kiss the sidewalks as I walked out of the theater and thanked God that I live in the free society that I do.

Roman Polanski has proved that he is a great director with films like Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby but this is his crowning achievement. I think the fact that this won the awards that it did at this years Oscars goes a long way to validate the brilliance of this film. I believe that the Oscar's are rigged for the most part and films and actresses and such win based more on their pedigree or business associations than anything else, so when it won best actor and director and adapted screenplay this year, it tells you that it should have won best picture but the Weinsteins seem to have a spell over everyone, hence a charlatan like Chicago takes top prize. Sorry for the digression here but when you compare a "film" like Chicago to a masterpiece like The Pianist, there really is one clear cut winner. They handed out the statue to the wrong movie.

The Pianist follows up and coming piano player Wlad Spielzman from his days as a local hero to a prisoner of war to his time in the ghettos, surviving only by the kindness of strangers. I think many people have touched on this before but what makes this film so amazing and well crafted is because Spielzman is a man that we can all relate to. He is not a hero, he is not a rebel and he is not a kamikaze type that wants and lusts after revenge. He is a simple man that is doing everything in his power to stay alive. He is a desperate man and fears for his life and wants to stay as low as he can. Only from the succor he receives from others does he manage to live and breathe and eat and hide. And this is how I related to him. If put in his position, how would I react? Exactly the way he did. This is a man that had everything taken from him. His livelihood, his family, his freedom and almost his life. There is no time for heroics here. Adrien Brody embodies the spirit of Spielzman and his win at this years Oscars was one of the happiest moments I have had watching the festivities. His speech was even better but that is a topic for another time.

Ultimately it is his gift of music that perhaps saves his life and the final scene that he has with the German soldier is one of the most emotionally galvanizing scenes I've witnessed. With very little dialogue, it is in the eyes, the face, the mouth and the sounds that chime throughout their tiny space that tell you all you need to know. I think it is this scene that won Brody his Oscar. This is one of the all time great performances.

I think Polanski spoke from the heart here. He has taken a palette of memories and amalgamated them with what he has read and given us one of the best films of our generation and any other. I think The Pianist will go down as one of the best films of this century and when all is said and done, Chicago will be forgotten the way Ordinary People was forgotten and when people talk about the film The Pianist, they will do so with reverence and respect. This is a cinematic masterpiece.

10 out of 10
An astonishing film8/10

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 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
Excellent, depressing, but excellent10/10
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 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