Sunday, August 5, 2012
Review: The Pianist
Starring: Adrien Brody
Length: 150 min.
IMDB Summary: A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.
In this dark, epic and moving film, the suffering of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto is brought to life. Brody's performance, for which he won an Oscar, is breathtaking. With understated and fine-tuned acting, he portrays Władysław Szpilman, a talented Polish Jewish pianist who struggles to survive during the German occupation of Poland. The characters were very realistic, because they were not just good or bad--the Jews had mixed reactions toward the violence in the ghettos, the Poles helping the Jews escape had varying motives (some slightly dubious), a Nazi officer aided Szpilman near the end of the movie. The slow infiltration of anti-Semitism is portrayed realistically--first, Szpilman's family must wear stars of David on their arms, a seemingly harmless requirement. However, the Nazis' demands quickly escalate and soon the family is forced into the Warsaw ghetto. What began with a star on a coat sleeve culminates in Szpilman's family being taken to the ghetto, and then later to a concentration camp. My favorite scene is when Szpilman is confined to an empty apartment with a piano. Unable to make any noise, he sits down and runs his fingers along the keys as if playing. We hear the music, but see only his fingers making patterns across the keys. This scene is brilliantly directed and in a way symbolizes the Poland that Szpilman once knew, now forever changed by the Holocaust.
Violence in this movie is disturbing and arbitrary, depicting the random brutality of the Nazis. Perhaps the worst moments are when the Nazis throw a man in a wheelchair off a balcony and when a child attempting to crawl under the ghetto wall is beaten to death by the soldiers on the other side. There are a few instances of strong language.
Image from http://www.allmovie.com/movie/the-pianist-v264212