The first thing that should be said is that this is most definitely more than a Holocaust movie. Although that dreadful event stands firmly in the background, this movie is really about one man's struggle for survival. The one man is Polish Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman. Adrien Brody played that lead role, and he played it well. Szpilman comes across as both pitiful in his desperation to survive but at the same time as noble in his desperation to survive. Brody portrays him as a man with great dignity. It was a challenging role, because as the movie progresses, there's less and less dialogue for the simple reason that almost everyone except Szpilman has been taken by the Nazis. Brody ends up playing long stretches without voice, but it doesn't stop him from rendering a brilliant portrait of the man, whose friends and family are gone and who simply tries to live day by day hoping for a way out of this madness. Just as haunting are extended scenes in which director Roman Polanski simply shows us a devastated Warsaw - not just the Jewish ghetto, but other parts of the city as well. The scenes of rubble, the scenes of innocent people being gunned down in the street by German soldiers - sometimes just for sport, without any other obvious reason, the scenes of burned out buildings. It's all haunting.
For all that - and all that was very good - there was something about the story that didn't really click with me. For some strange reason I found it difficult to follow and I did think that at almost two and a half hours it was a little bit too long. As much as was accomplished in that running time could have been accomplished in two hours flat. It's a good movie, but just failed to reach the level of greatness that some have assigned to it. 6/10
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