Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin's trade.
A brilliant pianist, a Polish Jew, witnesses the restrictions Nazis place on Jews in the Polish capital, from restricted access to the building of the Warsaw ghetto. As his family is rounded up to be shipped off to the Nazi labor camps, he escapes deportation and eludes capture by living in the ruins of Warsaw. Written by
Lew Rywin (the producer) was supposed to play the "Customer with Coins" who quiets Szpilman in restaurant. Because of Rywin's unexpected sunburn, the role was eventually given to Zbigniew Zamachowski. See more »
Szpilman walks in formation along the street with a group of Jewish workmen. A German officer selects various men and executes them one by one by shooting them in the head. As the last man is shot, the hollow sound of a spent shell casing striking the ground is heard, but a complete cartridge with the bullet falls to the ground. See more »
Polanski has depicted the gory details of the holocaust without much restraint. But, the most wonderful aspect of the film is that the director has not lost focus of his story and instead of focusing too much on the holocaust horror he has weaved the true-life narrative of survival around devillish happenings.
Every single act of escapade Szpilman goes through is depicted like a drop of water on a barren desert. However, the Oasis in the driest desert comes in the end and it is here that Polanski captures the essence of human emotion. I had this very strong urge of jumping into the theater screen and magically adopting a character in the movie and doing something about the helplesness portrayed so convincingly.
Overall, Polanski has given a stunning visual narrative of the cold war. Survival indeed is a privilege though it is taken for granted today. Performances by Brody, Kretschmann deserve applause.
Pawel Edelman's camera work is moving and he has brilliantly captured the dark sadness in the visual canvas in an effective way. The lighting is amazing. Pre-dawn shooting schedule could have helped a great deal.
Hervé de Luze's editing work has ensured that the narrative does not slip away from focus. Most notable is the scene where the human bodies are lit on fire and the camera raises to show the smoke. The darkness of the smoke is enhanced and is used effectively to fade the scene out.
The scene where Brody's fingers move as he rests his hands on the bars of the tram handle only goes to show the brilliance of Polanski as a film-maker.
Great film that will be in the running for this year's Oscars. I will give it a 9 Out of 10.
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