Something that we can feel comfortable about when watching horror films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Shining is that we can always pull back and remember that its only a movie. Its not real.
The Pianist, directed by Roman Polanski, in many ways is a horror film. However, when watching this movie, the audience does not have the luxury of pulling back and forgetting about, because everything we see in The Pianist is real life. Many people may laugh at me for calling The Pianist a horror film, but will not dispute that this powerful, eye opening true story, is an exceptionally well-made film.
The Pianist follows Wladyslaw Szpilman, one of the finest pianists in Europe, from 1939 through 1945 in Warsaw, Poland as the Nazi party takes over. It could be said that The Pianist is essentially a World War II movie about the persecution of the Jews; however, I would not demean it by putting it in the same category as other WWII films. No other movie I have seen with this premise has captured the brutality and sadness of this era as well as Roman Polanski’s film does. One of the scenes I remember most vividly is one in which two German officers pick up an old man and throw him over a ten story balcony to his death.
By this point, you are probably convinced that The Pianist is purely a savage and cruel film. It is not. While it is a hard film to watch, it is a rewarding one. It has a special charm that comes in the form of music. Szpilman, the main character, is a dedicated pianist, and when the Germans take over he is forced to abandon many of the things he loves to go into hiding. He is not able to play the piano for many years, and he is seen at various times playing the “air piano.” Through all the hardships he endures, he tries to keep alive what is important.
While many films we watch today are forgotten by the time we leave the cinema, The Pianist has a lasting impact that cannot be forgotten. A perfectly crafted piece of filmmaking, I give it five stars out of five.