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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 16.15%
Average: 13.08%
Pretty Bad: 3.08%
Total Crap: 0.77%

6 reviews, 94 user ratings

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Pianist, The
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by Elaine Perrone

"A shattering remembrance from one who was there."
5 stars

The Pianist is an astonishing and harrowing depiction of the breakdown, and restoration, of the human spirit by degrees, made all the more personal in the retelling by Roman Polanski's having lived in Nazi-occupied Poland as a child at the time of the events chronicled.

The Pianist seems more about images than story, largely silent, and even devoid of music, until the end, when we're awash in glorious, redemptive concert.

The film opens in Warsaw in 1939, with celebrated composer and pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) performing the last live radio musical broadcast, Chopin's Nocturne in D, even as German bombs were exploding around him. Finally forced to flee when the radio station is hit, Szpilman rushes home to his family, who have always lived in privilege due to Wladyslaw's status as a musician.

Szpilman and his family are able to escape deportation for a time by working as demeaned laborers for the Nazis, he has a piano player in a Jewish restaurant. When the rest of his family is rounded up in cattle cars and shipped to a concentration camp, he is again ironically saved by his music when he is taken aside by a policeman who admires his work and allowed to remain in the Warsaw ghetto. By now terribly fragile, Wladyslaw must fight for survival in the ghetto through hiding in the underground, censoring his behaviour, and relying on the kindness of old friends and strangers.

Some of the most horrifying and wrenching scenes are those shown in silence: A man in a wheelchair being pitched over a balcony; people in the ghetto being forced to dance for the amusement of the Nazi officers; a starving man trying to wrest a pot of beans from a woman's hands, then groveling on the ground for the spilled food. Moving, too, is the scene where Szpilman is helped into hiding in a flat with a piano. Warned of the need to be quiet, he "plays" with his fingers inches from the keyboard, hearing the music only in his head.

Most effective are the pivotal scenes between Szpilman (once again literally saved by his music, when he is forced to play what he is certain is his last piece) and the German officer (Thomas Kretschmann) who brings him food and a coat (which ironically is nearly the death of him).

The Pianist is a beautifully written (Ronald Harwood), directed (Polanski), photographed (Pawel Edelman), and acted (Brody and all supporting players) tale of devastation and survival, a praiseworthy effort all around.

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originally posted: 07/24/04 14:57:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/13 The Big D Grim account of the devastation the Nazis caused--watch it for historical significance. 4 stars
11/27/10 Yael Lenkinski Unbelievable! Masterful and horrifying. Adrian Brody was amazing. 5 stars
3/30/07 fools♫gold As passionately pinching as "Dead Man Walking"! 5 stars
1/23/07 MP Bartley Schindler's Lite 3 stars
12/14/06 Xan It's my opinion it's very good movie ;] 5 stars
11/27/06 Bitchflaps Overwraught and uninvolving. 2 stars
11/22/06 DarkEnchantress it was good, and funny because he never left his damn watermelon! 5 stars
11/14/06 ericka sanchez is a excelente movie 5 stars
11/03/06 KATIA LOVED THE MOVIE!!! 5 stars
10/08/06 edgar mahe this movie should be given 5 stars no less great performance 5 stars
7/12/06 ian afford surprisingly good 4 stars
3/20/06 Jason B A worthy riposte to Adorno's claim "that there can be no poetry after Auschwitz" 4 stars
9/20/05 Carlos Great Movie 5 stars
9/16/05 Daveman Better than Schindler's List, as if that really takes much. 2 stars
9/11/05 Ashleigh Yucky, Gruesome-kinda 4 stars
9/10/05 Alex so the guy outlasted them all, eh? 1 stars
8/19/05 ES Dry, but had its moments, better than the english patient 3 stars
8/08/05 Moctezuma Classic 5 stars
4/04/05 indrid cold Quite overrated. Schindler's List makes this look like extremely pointless and ponderous. 3 stars
3/15/05 brody WOW..... 5 stars
3/06/05 dr Dre yo mi homie bruthaz this is mad u must c it ppl its fully sick'a 5 stars
1/23/05 revenge of the poo-nuggets BRODY IS A NEVA 5 stars
1/05/05 magaafi you feel great for having freedom after this 5 stars
12/29/04 Steve Newman Movie title put me off - I am so embaressed. What a fantastic film - off to buy the dvd 5 stars
12/15/04 Tom Benton Polanski's best film by far, a war masterpiece; Brody is outstanding. 5 stars
10/26/04 ELI Chicago was better, but this movie good too! :) 5 stars
10/25/04 Andy Boy A meaningful movie - it reaches out to the soul. 4 stars
10/04/04 Daveman Despite nice photography and high detail, the Pianist just doesn't go anywhere new. 2 stars
9/26/04 Tor Honolulu Dude if you feel asleep its your loss. Wake up and see this, you'll be glad you did 5 stars
7/28/04 Mike Devans Yawn. I fell asleep 2 stars
7/25/04 Drew-P Brody will never be able to top this. 5 stars
5/16/04 KRG1 The best film of 2003...a true masterpiece 5 stars
4/15/04 Charlene Javier Ranks up there with Schindler's List. 5 stars
3/28/04 Margie great movie. such a moving subject obviously, but the music (or lack of) adds soo much 5 stars
3/27/04 Gretchen good movie, sometimes sad but moving 4 stars
3/26/04 Vikki Fox very poignant but slow at times and very depressing 4 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody This movie was amazing - Adrien at his finest! 5 stars
1/22/04 Kutty A very sincere and practical movie 5 stars
1/18/04 noeline mcintosh fantastic 5 stars
1/10/04 Charles Tatum "Schindler's List"-good 5 stars
12/01/03 s. pye still stunned that it relly happened. 4 stars
11/27/03 John most shokingly real portrayal of the holocaust yet...Polanski at his best 5 stars
11/18/03 CHlo GYllenhaal this was fucking amazing...i love adrian brody 5 stars
10/24/03 hayley and melanie Good interesting movie, a little sad at times 4 stars
10/17/03 Suzanne McNaughton sad, thought provoking, nail-biting and inspiring , really enjoyed this movie 5 stars
10/09/03 Elise Wolmarans Very moving, I was there! 5 stars
10/07/03 Sonja Kennedy Brilliant and very real 5 stars
9/29/03 Hooters gurl Didn't like the reference to socialism, but other than was tits! 5 stars
9/29/03 Honolulu Tur Just terrific; should have won Best Pic too but can't complain since Adrien & Roman won 5 stars
9/17/03 Jinnvisible a subtle masterpiece "Awesome" don`t really say it 5 stars
9/13/03 K. Morris Sobering, Empowering and Insightful! 5 stars
8/18/03 Flounder A very powerful and haunting of a survivor of the Holocaust 5 stars
8/16/03 R.W. Welch Has a few weak spots but overall a captivating WWII survival tale. 4 stars
8/09/03 mister great movie 5 stars
6/08/03 May Q. Horney What an insult to nominate this alongside garbage like SHITCAGO! 5 stars
5/29/03 A film observer A finer Holocaust film won't be made, because no director will be left who lived it. 5 stars
5/02/03 lauren great 5 stars
4/28/03 Lesly great movie. touching, emotional and so real.. Props to Brody 5 stars
4/24/03 Ralph R. Clemente Most important film of the last 10 years 5 stars
4/17/03 skye brutal. must see once. 4.5 stars 5 stars
3/29/03 Suzz Fine film; very fine performance by Brody. 4 stars
3/20/03 Shadaan Felfeli I cannot recommend this film enough. Oscars please ! 5 stars
3/08/03 Sam Sorrons No words can discribe this 5 stars
3/08/03 Matthew Smith a repellent experience, although it still is an interesting film 3 stars
3/08/03 Dee Martin Brody and Polanski should both win an Oscar. Nothing less. 5 stars
3/07/03 Edith the Maid and Meredith the Mermaid Polanski deserves Oscar for this and a pardon so he can accept it! 5 stars
3/03/03 John Bale Yet another Holocaust drama, albeit a powerful yet harrowing one. Polanski's Triumph. 5 stars
2/13/03 Mopsa I expected something better, but it's a good movie and Brody is terrific 4 stars
2/06/03 Taje Amazing, Dark, and Hauntingly Real. A film that everyone must see... 5 stars
2/02/03 rue the whirl gut-wrenchingly good film making 5 stars
2/01/03 Goofy Maxwell As in "My Left Foot", the sole expression of the soul emits from the digits. 5 stars
1/28/03 stephan cenzo incredible, strongly disagree with reviewer, situations and characters self evident 5 stars
1/27/03 Margaret Depicts the sad reality of WWII, moving, powerful! A must see! 5 stars
1/26/03 Adam Thanks God, this film is not a Hollywood version of history 5 stars
1/24/03 Don Guno this is one of the best films I have seen in a long time, Brody was great! 5 stars
1/22/03 Ben Better and less sappy than Schindler's List. A+ 5 stars
1/21/03 Christina One of the most powerful and important films I have ever seen 5 stars
1/20/03 bster "even the bodies lying on the ground seem calculatedly placed" ever seen a Polanski film? 4 stars
1/19/03 The Best 5 stars
1/19/03 Grampy Grehl Excellent! Feel the horror without the banality 5 stars
1/19/03 Rider in the Bloo Better than Schindler's List. Less melodramatic, and more to the point but still powerful. 5 stars
1/19/03 lily great! 5 stars
1/17/03 Wladislaw A humane, convincing account of the holocaust. Never seen anything like it. Superb & Timely 5 stars
1/16/03 Angolmois AveragAverage First Hour, but the Final Hour Is Quite Excellent. A Lot of Memorable Scenes. 4 stars
1/16/03 michael nightingale It was great!...though, i would've liked to seen more coverage of the ghetto uprising 4 stars
1/15/03 Wadyslaw Roman Polanski make the best movie in Poland 5 stars
1/14/03 Conrad Go see it! 5 stars
1/11/03 David Best film about the holocaust I've seen, and a remarkable true story 5 stars
1/08/03 Jim Only average 3 stars
1/06/03 Yael Lenkinski One of the best movies I have ever seen. Adrien Brody should win an oscar as should Polansk 5 stars
1/05/03 stan excellent powerful 5 stars
12/21/02 Me Not U A soon-to-be classic from Polanski. The last hour is breathtaking! 5 stars
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  27-Dec-2002 (R)



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