768 user 192 critic

The Pianist (2002)

1:21 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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



(screenplay), (book)
839 ( 25)
Top Rated Movies #43 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 52 wins & 70 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley
Comedy | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.

Director: Roberto Benigni
Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini
Crime | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift.

Director: Frank Darabont
Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver.

Directors: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Stars: François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly
Gladiator (2000)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen
Memento (2000)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A man juggles searching for his wife's murderer and keeping his short-term memory loss from being an obstacle.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Braveheart (1995)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.

Director: Mel Gibson
Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.

Director: Tony Kaye
Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo
Forrest Gump (1994)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

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.

Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman


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:




| | |


| |

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?


Daniel Szpilman, the real grandson of the main character Wladyslaw Szpilman, plays the part of the boy in the ghetto (on the market place and later again on the Umschlagplatz). See more »


When Szpilman is playing in the closing scenes, the piano's "Steinway & Sons" logo is the style first used in the 1990s. 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

An astonishing film
28 April 2003 | by (Milwaukee, WI) – See all my reviews

The Pianist is the true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, at the time Poland's most acclaimed pianist whose life is transformed during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw beginning in 1939. The film spans several years and maps his many personal trials in addition to providing the perspectives of his family, rebel factions and sympathizers.

Brilliantly directed by Roman Polanski and starring an amazing Adrien Brody, The Pianist is bound to garner comparisons to Schindler's List, for obvious reasons. However similar the subject matter, the approach is different. While Schindler's List was filmed in a beautiful, crisp black and white that offered many incredible images, The Pianist was filmed with almost muted color. Schindler's List featured what has been argued as a complicated hero. Oskar Schindler did save many Jews, but not without battling his own materialistic demons first. The Pianist's Szpilman is a sympathetic character throughout. His plight was desperate, and the demons he fought were over his own guilt in surviving a fight that eventually turns into a primal will to live.

Polanski does not spare the viewer any grief with his film. The horrific scenes between the Nazis and the Warsaw Jews were more terrifying and horrible than any horror/suspense movie I have seen in some time, possibly ever. The humiliation and complete loss is wrenching. In several scenes, Jews are lined up in the middle of the night and subjected to either torture or death. In one case, a woman asks of a Nazi officer, "What will happen to us?" and is promptly shot point blank in the head. The camera does not flinch or subdue any of these atrocities.

A mention must be made of Brody's performance. Having only previously seen Brody in two other films, Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam" and Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" (a part that was supposed to be his launch into stardom before his part was unfortunately cut drastically) I knew his potential was great. After his Oscar win, I viewed this movie with more criticism than I normally would have and he certainly did not disappoint. He transcended my expectations. His physical transformation was amazing, but more importantly, he conveyed the sorrow of this man shockingly well - in both verbal and non-verbal contexts. It will be very interesting to see what kind of opportunities this role will afford him, and the kinds of roles he will accept.

Something worth mentioning is the affect this movie had on the audience with whom I viewed this film. Normally, when a film ends, the regular hardcore filmsters like myself will stay and watch the credits in their entirety. The rest of the audience stands up and leaves, usually to the chagrin of the remaining enthusiasts. This was one of the few times I have seen a film at a theater where not one person stood to leave during the final credits. It wasn't until the house lights came up at the end did people begin to disperse. Personally, I hightailed it out of the theater the second the lights came on because not only was my face a mess from crying during the film (Tammy Faye comes to mind) but I had this overwhelming need for an emotional release, so when I reached my car I sat and wept for about five minutes. It has been years since I have watched a film that upset me to that extent. Conversely, while discussing this film with my brother, (someone who loves movies as much and has similar tastes as I do) he mentioned that while he thought the movie was excellent, he wasn't as profoundly emotionally effected as I was. After thinking about this for a couple of days, I realized the difference: The music. As a classical music enthusiast and erstwhile musician, the thought of not being able to enjoy, much less play the music you love is a tragic one. Then the emotional outpouring that comes when you return to it - there aren't words to describe how intense that is. Not having the same appreciation for this musical genre, one will be able to sympathize with the physical and emotional tribulations, but perhaps not in the musical sense.

The Pianist was truly an astonishing film. I was riveted from start to finish and so emotionally affected that I couldn't even consider writing a review until a week later. Having said that, I am filing this away with my list of movies which include Schindlers List and Philadelphia, as films that I love but cannot rewatch for a long time after due to their intensely emotional content.


240 of 289 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
How did Germans know? Alex_RM7
portrayal of german soldier Alex_RM7
Why do German soldiers shoot...? meteor_x176
Any Pro Hitler Movies? kothawade-amol
Wake up call for gun control advocates jdreck
movies that are very good but you don't want to see again schumithecat
Discuss The Pianist (2002) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: