The Pianist is the truly moving story of a Jewish man named Wladyslaw Szpilman living in Poland during World War II. He, like most other Jews, experienced the wrath of the angry Germans who had recently lost World War I, and chose to blame the people of the Jewish faith for their loss. Like other Jews, he wore an armband showing his shameful status. He was spat at, mocked, kicked, abused, and hated by all who were anti-Jewish. Along with everyone else who lived under the rule of Adolf Hitler, whether they supported him or not, he suffered. There was one distinct quality that Wladyslaw had that separated him from the average person. He had an amazing gift for playing the piano. He could effortlessly let his fingers dance across the keys, making beautiful sounds that could bring enlightenment to all who heard him. He was widely known, and admired for his talent.

As he suffered through losing his home, friends, family, peace of mind, safety, health, and sanity, he never lost his spirit to play. He longed to hear the piano again and to experience the joy he felt in playing, a joy that had vanished along with everything else. He was forced to move from place to place, living in secret to survive, and to remain completely silent so that no one knew he was there.

In the last place he stayed, there was a beautiful grand piano, just like the one he used to play. Despite the unbearable temptation to sit and play once more, he knew that he must be silent. When a German officer, Wilm Hosenfeld, discovered Wladyslaw, he did not kill him. Instead he asked him a series of questions, one of which was, “What do you do?” Wladyslaw answered, “I am a pianist.” Hosenfeld told him to play, so he sat at the bench and for the first time in so long his heart sang through his fingertips. He played and played. So beautifully he played, absorbed in what he was doing without another care in the world.

When he finished the officer stood and simply and quickly left. Wladyslaw returned to the room where he was hiding, and waited, sure the officer would return with his men. Instead Hosenfeld was so impressed with Wladyslaw’s skill, he was moved to be kind to him. Over the next few days, as the Russians were moving in to end the war, Hosenfeld fed and clothed Wladyslaw, and was very kind to him. When the day came for the German army to leave, Hosenfeld paid one last visit to the pianist. They exchanged names and thanks, and then Hosenfeld gave him some food and left.

The Russians piled in quickly and effectively rounded up the Germans including Hosenfeld. Wladyslaw returned to his old life, though little of it was the same, and began to play for the radio again. He received news that Hosenfeld had been put in a prison camp, but when Wladyslaw arrived where the camp was said to be, there was no sign it had ever been there. It is believed that Hosenfeld died at the prison.

I was amazed by this story. It is very powerful and it makes a strong point that we are all human beings. We are all men and women, and the only race is the human race. We all have something beautiful to offer one another. I highly recommend this film.

One Response to Movie Review: The Pianist by Sonja S.

  1. Poze says:

    I can remember when this film came out I was adamantly against seeing it. I had my preconceived notions that it would be some other heroic Jewish Holocaust film where good triumphs over evil and in between we would see some brutal atrocities committed by the Germans to add some flavour.

    How wrong I was.

    This is one of the best films I have ever seen and what it did to me I cannot describe in words. But in a nutshell, it moved me, made me cry, made me feel like I was in the Polish ghetto in 1940, and ultimately made me kiss the sidewalks as I walked out of the theater and thanked God that I live in the free society that I do.

    Roman Polanski has proved that he is a great director with films like Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby but this is his crowning achievement. I think the fact that this won the awards that it did at this years Oscars goes a long way to validate the brilliance of this film. I believe that the Oscar’s are rigged for the most part and films and actresses and such win based more on their pedigree or business associations than anything else, so when it won best actor and director and adapted screenplay this year, it tells you that it should have won best picture but the Weinsteins seem to have a spell over everyone, hence a charlatan like Chicago takes top prize. Sorry for the digression here but when you compare a “film” like Chicago to a masterpiece like The Pianist, there really is one clear cut winner. They handed out the statue to the wrong movie.

    The Pianist follows up and coming piano player Wlad Spielzman from his days as a local hero to a prisoner of war to his time in the ghettos, surviving only by the kindness of strangers. I think many people have touched on this before but what makes this film so amazing and well crafted is because Spielzman is a man that we can all relate to. He is not a hero, he is not a rebel and he is not a kamikaze type that wants and lusts after revenge. He is a simple man that is doing everything in his power to stay alive. He is a desperate man and fears for his life and wants to stay as low as he can. Only from the succor he receives from others does he manage to live and breathe and eat and hide. And this is how I related to him. If put in his position, how would I react? Exactly the way he did. This is a man that had everything taken from him. His livelihood, his family, his freedom and almost his life. There is no time for heroics here. Adrien Brody embodies the spirit of Spielzman and his win at this years Oscars was one of the happiest moments I have had watching the festivities. His speech was even better but that is a topic for another time.

    Ultimately it is his gift of music that perhaps saves his life and the final scene that he has with the German soldier is one of the most emotionally galvanizing scenes I’ve witnessed. With very little dialogue, it is in the eyes, the face, the mouth and the sounds that chime throughout their tiny space that tell you all you need to know. I think it is this scene that won Brody his Oscar. This is one of the all time great performances.

    I think Polanski spoke from the heart here. He has taken a palette of memories and amalgamated them with what he has read and given us one of the best films of our generation and any other. I think The Pianist will go down as one of the best films of this century and when all is said and done, Chicago will be forgotten the way Ordinary People was forgotten and when people talk about the film The Pianist, they will do so with reverence and respect. This is a cinematic masterpiece.

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