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The Pianist (2002)

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



(screenplay), (book)
864 ( 13)
Top Rated Movies #43 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 52 wins & 70 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


Music was his passion. Survival was his masterpiece.


Biography | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

28 March 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Pianist  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Roman Polanski considers this his best film. At the end of the documentary Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir (2011), interviewer Andrew Braunsberg asks him which of his own films he believes to be absolutely perfect, and wouldn't change a frame if he could. To this, Polanski replies: "If any film cannisters were to be placed on my grave, I'd like them to be The Pianist's". See more »


When Dorota and her husband visit Szpilman in his apartment, they see he has jaundice. Dorota soaks a dishcloth in water andoth up, her dress has no damp spots on it. See more »


[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 »


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


Sonata No. 14 in C# Minor, Op. 27/2: 'Mondscheinsonate'
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven (as Ludwig Van Beethoven)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

To hell and back.
21 January 2003 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

The Pianist is an incredible film in many aspects. Roman Polanski's account of the survival of the pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, is a document about how one man can overcome the worst possible situations in a world gone completely mad around him.

The only fault one can find with the adaptation of Mr. Szpilman's story by playwright Ronald Harwood, is the fact that we never get to know the real Wladyslaw Szpilman, the man, as some of the comments made to this forum also have indicated.

There is a very interesting point raised by the the pianist's father who upon reading something in the paper, comments about how the Americans have forgotten them. Well, not only the Americans, but the rest of the world would not raise a finger to do anything for the people that were being imprisoned and made to live in the confined area of Warsaw. The exterminating camps will come later.

What is amazing in the film, is the frankness in which director Polanski portrays the duplicity of some Jews in the ghetto. The fact that Jews were used to control other Jews is mind boggling, but it was a fact, and it's treated here matter of factly. Had this been made by an American director, this aspect would have never surfaced at all. Yet, Mr. Polanski and Mr. Harewood show us that all was not as noble and dignified as some other films have treated this ugly side of war.

Wladyslaw Szpilman, as played by Adrien Brody, is puzzling sometimes, in that we never get to know what's in his mind. He's a man intent in not dying, but he's not a fighter. He accepts the kindness extended to him. He never offers to do anything other than keep on hiding, which is a human instinct. He will never fight side by side with the real heroes of the ghetto uprising. His role is simply to witness the battle from his vantage point in one of the safe houses across the street from where the action takes place.

Adrien Brody is an interesting actor to watch. As the pianist of the story he exudes intelligence. There is a scene where Szpilman, in one of the safe houses he is taken, discovers an upright piano. One can see the music in his head and he can't contain himself in moving his fingers outside the closed instrument playing the glorious music from which he can only imagine what it will sound in his mind.

The supporting cast is excellent. Frank Findlay, a magnificent English actor is the father of the pianist and Maureen Lipman, another veteran of the stage, plays the mother with refined dignity.

In watching this film one can only shudder at the thought of another conflict that is currently brewing in front of our eyes. We wonder if the leaders of the different factions could be made to sit through a showing of The Pianist to make them realize that war is hell.

121 of 156 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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