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The Pianist /

Rated: R

Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Maureen Lipman, Ed Stoppard 

Directed by: Roman Polanski 

Produced by: Roman Polanski, Robert Benmussa, Alain Sarde 

Written by: Ronald Harwood, Wladyslaw Szpilman 

Distributor: Focus Features


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Movie Image
Movie Image

     Roman Polanski’s The Pianist is a remarkable achievement that chronicles the amazing life of Wladyslaw Szpilman. Szpilman (Adrien Brody) was a Polish Jew condemned to the terribly wretched streets of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi occupation. The Pianist is much more than the average Holocaust movie, however. Polanski cleverly merges his own brilliant shots, with real images and small bits of video from actual Warsaw, to produce a masterful result. This film is monumentally moving, and is one of the best movies of all-time. The Pianist can’t quite top Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, but comes close. As horrific and intensifying all of the video may be, it is some of the most respectable material to come out of the industry in years. Szpilman’s story is unbelievable, and to see it captured on film is heart wrenching. He is a figure that should be remembered when we think of the incredibly tough times that the Jews endured. While The Diary of Anne Frank is probably the most popular novel in Holocaust literature, Szpilman’s auto-biography definitely deserves more recognition.

     Living in Warsaw, Szpilman was an accomplished concert pianist. He would play on Polish radio, and took deep pride in his profession. Music was clearly his passion. As the bombing of Warsaw commenced, and more and more Jews were being killed, Szpilman still remained true to his art. The tough times did consume his body, but he wouldn’t let them overtake his personality. But, despite his attempts to try to live life normally, his career took a downfall when the recording studio that he worked in was blown-up. He was able to flee from the building, just in time to save his life, but was left without work. This event was the beginning of a long chain of downwardly spiraling events. The most impactive of the occurrences to Szpilman’s life, that followed, was that the Jews living in Warsaw were contained to a smaller radius of land. His family was moved by the Nazis to a small apartment building, and shared rooms, most of them without work. Szpilman, however, was able to find a low-paying job as a pianist in a Jewish restaurant. Before long after this, his family was taken away, to be shipped off to concentration camps. While his father, mother, and siblings had no choice but to hop on the train to take them to the horrendous places, Szpilman was able to escape. This began his long session in hiding, which is referred by to most as incredible.

     Adrien Brody’s performance, as Szpilman, is deeply moving. There is not one scene where he is stiff, or not convincing. We always see him as his character, and not just an actor. Partially because he isn’t a familiar face, but more so, by his tremendous knowledge and skill in acting. Quote me on the ladder. Most of the screen time is occupied by his character, and I am relived by the fact that the casting directors picked the actor for the role. Without him, the entire film could’ve gone desperately wrong. Polanski pieced the scenes where Brody is supposedly playing the piano together carefully, and produced an effective result. As a secondary pianist’s fingers were actually playing the instrument, we see Brody’s face sweating away as if he were really playing the classic Chopin pieces. He captures the spirit of Szpilman beautifully, and should definitely be an Oscar nominee. Brody’s performance excellently combines with Polanski’s masterful direction to make The Pianist an instant classic. Is this the best movie of the year? The outlook is good, as it stands right now, but I have not seen all of the releases from two-thousand-and-two just yet; so nothing is for certain.

     The Pianist is an extraordinary achievement made possible by an extremely talented cast and crew. Polanski’s direction is unflawed, and captures a beautiful, yet depressing portrait of the time period. Brody’s performance is, hands-down, amazing, and is probably the best I have seen this year. This film is superior to all others that have seen the light of release in recent days. The Pianist is an engaging experience that tells one of the most incredible stories ever put to film before. When I make my end of the year list, expect to see this film in one of the top spots. It is certainly one of the best movies of the year, and all-time.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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