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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 Slyder

"Polanskiís return to form"
5 stars

During the time before and when The Pianist was released, many people started questioning both the film and its director Roman Polanski; questions which mostly centered on ďwhy do we need another holocaust film?Ē or ďwhy would anyone want to see a film from that notorious child rapist?Ē The first question has some validity since the theme from the Holocaust has been covered so widely in the media (Schindlerís List, Life is Beautiful, the forgettable Jacob the Liar) that it has pretty much entered in a formula of its own. The second questionÖ well, cinematically doesnít mean shit. Regardless of whatever people questioned back then, it must be said though that the story of The Pianist was a story that needed to be told, and Roman Polanski finally gives us a film which he pretty much was born to make. Itís not a masterpiece (though it comes REALLY close), but man, itís quite a riveting piece of work and deservingly the best film of 2002, and unfairly ripped off the Best Picture Oscar by the overrated Chicago.

The pianist is Wladizlaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), whom is regarded as the most talented pianist of his generation, until the bombs fall in Warsaw in 1939 and the Nazi occupation begins. After that moment, the Nazi noose is hung around the Warsaw Jewish communityís neck and slowly tightening up, as we see Szpilman and his family without work, restricted more and more, forced into the ghettoís and then sent via trains toward the concentration camps. Szpilman escapes from boarding the train of death, but his family does not, and he would never see them again. Szpilman is forced to live at first with the Jew worker district (at one point smuggling guns to the Polish/Jewish resistance) and then on his own thanks to the help of some old friends and a unlikely sympathetic German officer (Thomas Kretschmann), and as the war rages on towards itís final stages, Szpilman must do on his own, and only his passion for music is the only thing that can keep him alive in war-torn Warsaw.

This film immediately is qualified in the holocaust section though if you analyze carefully, itís not really about the holocaust at all. The whole holocaust is there but acting more as mere but present background. There are no concentration camps, no Auschwitz, just the streets of Warsaw. Itís about Szpilman, and his experiences and his survival as we see how Szpilman takes refuge and comfort in his music in order to momentarily shun the pains and horrors of the war. Itís in this moment that we see a striking similarity between Szpilman and Polanski since Polanski himself had to seek refuge in movie theaters where he gained his influences, so his depiction of these scenes is exceptionally intimate and moving. The atmosphere is trademark dark and darkening as the film progresses on as we see Szpilman from being very lucky to get the help that he got since many didnít, towards the real test when heís suddenly all alone by himself struggling to stay alive, and in the end he ends up looking almost caveman-like, all alone, walking in the battered streets of a city in ruins.

The story at first is a bit rushed in the beginning especially when it deals with Szpilmanís crush for a Polish girl named Dorota (Emilia Fox) whom is a minor but important character later in the film. But it nevertheless remains interesting as we see through Szpilmanís eyes how the ghetto life was back then in Warsaw. Thereís a chief complaint by some viewers in which they think that the Germans were portrayed as rather cartoonish jocks. I strongly disagree since thereís a widely known account about the imminent racism in part by many German soldiers against the Jewish community. Polanski himself was a victim of this since he was once used by sadistic Germans as idle target practice when he was a boy, Polanski himself in the documentary recalls people being shot by the mere act of asking a question. So, to dismiss these acts as cartoonish is a very naÔve and foolish way to divert ourselves from the reality of how things happened. Another aspect is also the appearance of Jews that actually fight against the Germans, a fact rarely absent from many holocaust films, and itís notable since I canít imagine that Jewish people would just sit there like sheep and wait to be exterminated without a fight.

The film is brutally realistic and an element that helps the realism of it is the cinematography, by Pawel Edelman. Since the novel in which was based was more of a diary of things Szpilman saw while in hiding, the challenge was how to translate it into the screen. Instead of the usual close ups of the action or narrative voice-over, Polanski and Edelman use a first person point of view perspective, where the camera sees exactly what Szpilman is actually seeing from where heís standing, and itís very effective. The music, with its numerous borrowings from Chopin is also very moving, and the Chopin fragments are awesome. Adrien Brody does a magnificent job as Szpilman, and his transformation from clean-cut kid to battered caveman is impressive and harrowing. Hell, even the piano pieces are riveting and emotional. Itís really a well-crafted exceptional piece of work by Polanski as well as Ronald Harwood for his screenplay that despite a few hiccups, it delivers its point almost perfectly. All three deserved their Oscars in my opinion and Pawel Edelman also should've won.

In the end, this film was harrowing and moving but ultimately triumphant and uplifting after so much death that was experienced by Szpilman, a man whom lived an experience that many people may not wish to remember but must never forget. An excellent work as well as a great companion to Schindler's List, lets hope this time that Polanski's career, now back on track stays there for a while. 4.5-5

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originally posted: 03/26/04 09:20:08
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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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