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The Pianist (2002)

A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.

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(screenplay), (book)
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Top Rated Movies #41 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 51 wins & 72 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Nomi Sharron ...
Anthony Milner ...
Lucy Skeaping ...
Street Musician (as Lucie Skeaping)
Roddy Skeaping ...
Street Musician
Ben Harlan ...
Street Musician
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Storyline

In this adaptation of the autobiography "The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945," Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jewish radio station pianist, sees Warsaw change gradually as World War II begins. Szpilman is forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, but is later separated from his family during Operation Reinhard. From this time until the concentration camp prisoners are released, Szpilman hides in various locations among the ruins of Warsaw. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Music was his passion. Survival was his masterpiece.

Genres:

Biography | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

28 March 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Pianist  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,949,422 (France) (27 September 2002)

Gross:

$32,519,322 (USA) (30 May 2003)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Adrien Brody and Marcia Gay Harden are the only actors to win an Oscar without being awarded for the same performance in any of its predecessor awards (Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA). Harden was not even nominated for those awards for her performance in Pollock (2000). See more »

Goofs

When Szpilman goes to his friend of last resort for help, it is deep winter, with snow. A bunch of fresh yellow roses are on the table. The next morning, the roses are apricot-colored. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dorota: [running from bombing] Mr. Szpilman?
Wladyslaw Szpilman: Hello.
Dorota: Oh, I came specially to meet you. I love your playing.
Wladyslaw Szpilman: Who are you?
Dorota: My name is Dorota. I, I'm Jurek's sister... You're bleeding.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Aside from the Universal and Focus Features credits, there are no opening credits. All credits, including the title, appear at the end of the film. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 100 Greatest War Films (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Umowilem sie z nia na dziewiata
(1937)
Music by Henry Vars (as Henryk Wars)
Lyrics by Emanuel Schlechter (as Emanuel Szlechter)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
10 out of 10
20 January 2003 | by (Luxembourg) – See all my reviews

The Pianist is an account of the true life experience of a Polish pianist during WW2, in the context of the deportation of the Jewish community to the Ghetto of Warsaw, a setting virtually absent from all films inspired on WW2.

Polanski (himself a child survivor of the Krakow and Warsaw ghettos) could have described in more detail the legendary, desperate fighting of the Jewish resistance in the ghetto of Warsaw, or the horrific mass extermination in concentration camps. Instead, the film gains in intensity by displaying the war from the pianist's own point of view (through windows, half-opened doors, holes in the walls - with big emphasis on the use of "point of view shooting" by the cameraman). One cannot help feeling disturbed by the most enthralling scenes of the film, as the isolated pianist tries to ensure his survival in the ghetto and ruins of Warsaw, hiding and fleeing, moving from one bombed house to the next, gradually becoming a shadow of his former self, hungry and afraid (merit largely attributed to the extraordinary performance by Adrien Brody, who visibly loses half of his weight throughout the film).

Does the pianist raise any sympathy from the audience? Not immediately, in my view. The pianist is more than often a drifting character, almost a witness of other people's and his own horrors. He seems to float and drift along the film like a lost feather, with people quickly appearing and disappearing from his life, some helping generously, others taking advantage of his quiet despair, always maintaining an almost blank, dispassionate demeanour. One may even wonder why we should care in the least about this character. But we do care. That is, I believe, the secret to this film's poetry.

In one of the strongest scenes, towards the end, a German officer forces the pianist to play for his life, in an episode that suddenly brings a much lighter, beautifully poetic shade to the film (this German officer will be probably compared to Schindler, although his philanthropy does not quite share the same basis).

This is also a wonderful tribute to Polish artists, through Chopin's music, with the concert at the very end of the film and the opening performance by the pianist at the local radio station (with the sound of bomb explosions in the background) forming an harmonious link between the beginning and end of the film (following Polanski's usual story-frame).

Overall, The Pianist is one of the most detailed and shocking accounts of the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis, with the atmosphere in Warsaw well captured and believable. Quite possibly, The Pianist will remain in the history of film-making as the most touching and realistic portraits of the holocaust ever made.

Polanski's film deserves a strong presence in the 2003 Oscar nominations, including a nomination for Adrien Brody's amazing performance, Polanski's sublime direction, best adapted screenplay and, obviously, best picture. This could be, at last, Polanski's long awaited, triumphal comeback to the high and mighty Hollywood.


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