The Pianist (2002) Poster



Production of the film was stopped and delayed for one day following the death of associate producer Rainer Schaper. The film was dedicated to him.
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During the shooting of the movie, while scouting locations in Krakow, Roman Polanski met a man who had helped Polanski's family survive the war.
Roman Polanski himself experienced the Holocaust. His parents were sent to two different concentration camps: his father to Mauthausen-Gusen in Austria, where he survived the war, and his mother to Auschwitz where she was murdered.
The music played for the German officer in the film was actually an edit of Frédéric Chopin's Ballade No.1 in G Minor, (Op. 23, No. 1). In real life, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin's Nocturne No.1 in C# Minor.
"Szpilman" is the Polish phonetic spelling of the German word/name "Spielmann", meaning bandsman or minstrel, hence Hosenfeld's remark that it is a "good name for a pianist."
Adrien Brody became the youngest person to date to win an Academy Award for Best Actor when he won for this film at the age of 29.
This is the first film ever to receive the Best Film Award at the Césars (France's national film award) with not a single word of French spoken in it.
The scene in which Wladyslaw Szpilman is saved from going to the concentration camps and is told "Don't run!" is inspired by a similar event in director Roman Polanski's life. Originally, Szpilman was told "Run!", which he did, but Polanski deliberately changed that element to reflect his own experience.
Adrien Brody lost 14 kg (31 lb) for the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman by eating a daily diet of two boiled eggs and green tea for breakfast, a little chicken for lunch, and a small piece of fish or chicken with steamed vegetables for dinner over a six week period. Initially his weight was 73 kg (161 lb).
In order to connect with the feeling of loss required to play the role, Adrien Brody got rid of his apartment, sold his car, and didn't watch television.
The film is based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman. The director Roman Polanski tried to make the film as faithful of an adaptation as possible, with additional inspiration coming from events that happened to him while he was a boy during the war.
Adrien Brody learned how to play the piano for his role.
Notice how director of photography Pawel Edelman slowly drains the color out of all the scenes as the film progresses to signify the deterioration of the city and of Szpilman himself.
The character played by Thomas Kretschmann was Captain Wilhelm Hosenfeld who, along with Oskar Schindler, shares the rare distinction of receiving the Righteous Among the Nations medal from the Jewish population. The real Hosenfeld died in Soviet captivity in 1952, possibly as a result of torture by the Russian authorities who held him responsible for war crimes. The real Szpilman didn't learn his real name - and fate - until 1951 when he did his best to save him, only to no avail.
The film was in pre-production when the real Szpilman died.
Over 1,400 actors auditioned for the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman at a casting call in London. Unsatisfied with all who tried, director Roman Polanski sought to cast Adrien Brody, who he saw as ideal for the role during their first meeting in Paris, around the time Brody was shooting The Affair of the Necklace (2001).
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".
Steven Spielberg originally wanted Roman Polanski to direct Schindler's List (1993) but he found the subject matter too harrowing at the time.
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).
Wladyslaw Szpilman's autobiographical account of his life in the Warsaw Ghetto during the war under the Nazi regime was published shortly after the war ended. However, the Communist government that took over in Poland refused to have it published for many years as it didn't fully comport with their "officially documented" version of events.
Director Roman Polanski could not attend the Academy Award ceremony in Los Angeles where he won the Oscar for Best Director, due to an outstanding arrest warrant for a sexual abuse case. The award was accepted on his behalf by Harrison Ford, who presented it to Polanski five months later at the Deauville Film Festival.
Both Roman Polanski and Ronald Harwood sat through hours and hours of authentic footage shot by the Germans during the war and were both struck at how orchestrated the footage was, deliberately engineered to produce the most striking effect.
Jurek's voice is dubbed by Roman Polanski.
Proceeds from the Amsterdam, Netherlands premiere were donated to the Anne Frank House.
Adrien Brody and Marion Cotillard are the only actors to win both a César and an Oscar for the same performance. Brody won both awards in 2003 for 'The Pianist' and Cotillard won in 2008 for La Vie en Rose (2007). Brody is also the only american actor to win a César.
Adrien Brody was convinced he didn't have a shot at winning the Best Actor Oscar and told fellow nominee Michael Caine that he hadn't thought of anything to say because he was sure he wasn't going to make it up to the podium.
Roman Polanski provides the voice of the man waiting to cross the street who complains about a Gentile street running through the ghetto.
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).
Frank Finlay, who plays the father of the Jewish family, also portrayed Adolf Hitler in ITV Saturday Night Theatre: The Death of Adolf Hitler (1973).
Ronald Harwood was assigned the role of writing the screenplay, largely on the strength of his play "Taking Sides". Roman Polanski saw the play when it was produced in Paris in 2000. As the play is about music and Nazis, he figured Harwood would be a great fit for the project.
This was Cyril Shaps' final acting role before his death on January 1, 2003 at the age of 79.
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.
Roman Polanski originally wanted Joseph Fiennes for the lead role but he had committed to theater work at the time.
The first film Roman Polanski has shot in his native Poland since Knife in the Water (1962).
Director Roman Polanski's daughter, Morgane Polanski, has a small role in the movie as a young girl.
The two similarly titled films, The Piano (1993) and The Pianist (2002), made and released around a decade apart, both won the same number of Academy Awards, that being three. All the Oscar winners for The Piano (1993) were women whilst all the Oscar winners for The Pianist (2002) were men.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Chosen by "Telerama" (France) as one of the 10 best pictures of 2002 (#06)


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

A nuance for those who don't speak German: In general, the German officers use the informal version of "you" ("du," etc.) when talking to the Jews, which reflects their views (you wouldn't talk to adult strangers that way); however, Hosenfeld (the officer who discovers Wladyslaw Szpilman in hiding) always uses the proper formal form ("Sie," etc.) because of the way he personally feels.
Wilhelm "Wilm" Hosenfeld, the kindhearted German officer who was jailed by the Russians on trumped up charges and died in prison, was awarded Righteous Among The Nations status by the State of Israel. for his sheltering of Jews who otherwise would have been sent to the death camps.
The music playing out of the truck toward the end of the film is the Polish National Anthem, which is why Wladyslaw Szpilman knows he is safe.
Almost the entire movie is shot from Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody)'s perspective. The few exceptions are the black-and-white opening scenes, as well as the scene where Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann) is found imprisoned in a Soviet camp.

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