The Pianist (DVD, 2006, Single Sided Version Widescreen) Reviews
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The Pianist (DVD, 2006, Single Sided Version Widescreen)

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The Pianist - excellent movie about one man during World War II

Jan 25, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent. It's easy to see why this one won awards.

Cons:This one is not suitable for kids.

The Bottom Line: This is one of the best movies I've seen. It is very sad and haunting.


Watching The Pianist reminds me how lucky I am to live in a country where we aren’t involved in war on our soil. Even after watching this movie and others on World War II and reading books on the subject, my mind can’t really grasp the concept of such evil and inhumanity. Some of the things we have done to each other over the years are unforgivable, and perhaps the telling of such stories will help everyone to remember why we must try to work together as a united “people.”

Wladyslaw Szpilman is an artist—a piano player. He enjoys his job playing the piano on the radio and his family. Life should be quiet and calm for such a creative soul, but war does not make exceptions for anyone. When the radio station is bombed and the Nazis move all Jews in Poland to ghetto areas with brick walls, the old life is just a dream that helps Szpilman mentally slip away from time to time as he endures incredible hardships ranging from not having access to musical instruments to seeing his entire family herded on a cattle car destined for concentration camps.

The physical burdens are horrible with cold weather and little or no food, but the mental torture would be enough to force many to simply give up and hope for death. Seeing old people forced to dance for the enjoyment of the young soldiers, watching a line of people randomly bulleted down, hearing a woman go crazy because she smothered her child to protect a hiding place are the kinds of things that would never go away.

Szpilman ends up being luckier than some during this horrendous chapter in our world history. A few people here and there give him breaks that allow him to escape with his life and his talents but nothing more. That does not mean that he had it easy. In fact, it would seem that the memories of what happened would be more difficult to bear than death. I can’t even fathom losing my kids and parents and siblings and watching my entire town burned to ashes. I can’t say that I would really want to survive in such circumstances.

The Pianist makes the Holocaust seem very real. It is not a sweeping look at the War. It’s one man and the day-to-day realities in his small portion of Warsaw. Szpilman is the kind of guy you might see down at the post office—kind of quiet and reserved--a good man with a big heart and a huge talent. He would be a guy that you would know good and darn well did not deserve harsh treatment. No one deserves to be treated the way the German soldiers treated the Jewish people then or ever, and Szpilman represents a common man presenting no threat to anyone. Though he did help in minor ways with the resistance, his heart simply was not in being violent for any reason.

Adrien Brody played the part of Szpilman, and he was perfect for the role. From what I’ve read, close to 1500 men tried out for the part, and Roman Polanski was not satisfied with any of the hopefuls. He had Brody in mind for the character, and he talked him into playing the role. That was a good move on Polanski’s part. Brody comes across as thoughtful, sensitive, and artistic. He just simply IS Szpilman in this movie.

There were many, many actors in this film, but most played minor roles and were taken off to concentration camps or were killed. The supporting cast was exceptional though in the background. It just felt like you were there and that the family was a real family and that the soldiers were right in the thick of the War. It was good that none really stood out, since this was Szpilman’s story.

This was a film that Roman Polanski had probably wanted to make for years and years. He survived this dark period in Poland, and I can imagine that the images play over and over in his head and weigh on his heart. He took his experiences and applied them to this project for a film that will make a real difference. Though other stories have been told, this one simply has a lot of heart. Though my life is very different from the life lived by Szpilman, I could relate to him and to his life.

I think the story was especially powerful, since it was based on a true story. Szpilman did exist, and he did live through this awful period of time. He survived to play his music again and to bless the world with his talents. I’m only sorry that he died in 2000 and did not get to see his story told in film.

This is not a good film for kids. The scenes of War are simply too “real.” While it’s good for our children to know our history and to respect those who have not had the same war-free world that we’ve been blessed to inhabit in most areas, most kids are simply not emotionally mature enough to watch so much violence and cruelty in such graphic detail. Some adults would also find this a hard movie to watch. Though I would consider it one of the best movies I’ve ever watched, I felt very sad after I saw how terrible some people could be to others. Even though it was “just a movie,” it felt very real.


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