review for The Pianist on AllMovie

The Pianist (2002)
by Adam Bregman review

This powerful film by Roman Polanski tackles a subject matter and time that has been covered exhaustively in feature films, TV movies and documentaries, but the Pianist is another exceptional story that needed to be told. There have been plenty of dramas regarding the Warsaw Ghetto and the Jewish resistance, but less about the nearly complete destruction of Warsaw by the Nazis near the end of the war just as the Russians were closing in. the Pianist is mostly from the perspective of Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), who escapes the concentration camps by luck and is briefly involved in smuggling guns into the Warsaw Ghetto. He escapes the Ghetto with the help of the Polish resistance and spends the rest of the film struggling to survive, while watching the unfolding events in Warsaw as the city is torn to pieces by the Nazis. It is a harrowing and moving story and Szpilman is a completely sympathetic character who doesn't seem at first cut out to survive under such conditions. There are both good and bad Jews, Poles and Nazis in the story, though most of the Nazi characters with the exception of Captain Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann) are monstrous. Aside from the relentless horrors that Szpilman witnesses, there are moments of great beauty in the film especially in the scenes where he plays piano. The cinematography by Pawel Edelman is fantastic. Beyond being a great film, the Pianist is a testament to the incredible struggle of the Polish people during World War II.