Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
After a string of mediocre movies that hardly hinted at Roman Polanski's early glory, The Pianist represents a dazzling comeback -- the director's best work since Chinatown. Call it the anti-Spielberg Holocaust movie. Like Schindler’s List, The Pianist is based on a true story -- in this case, the autobiography of classical pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a Polish Jew who escaped the Nazis and spent World War II hiding out in Warsaw. But where Spielberg’s film is operatic and ultimately sentimental, Polanski’s is austere, tightly focused, almost clinical in the way it details Szpilman’s quest for survival. An upper-class dandy whose interests in life are limited to music and women, Szpilman is miraculously spared when his entire family, along with the rest of the Warsaw Ghetto, is carted off to the death camps. Brody, in an Oscar-winning performance, is magnificent as a man who is single-minded in his obsession with his music and tenacious in his will to live but hardly heroic: Szpilman’s initial salvation is a stroke of sheer luck. Later, in a stunning and lyrical scene that the entire film builds toward, we see that ultimately his talent as a pianist is the only thing that saves him. If many of the early images from The Pianist are familiar from other Holocaust films, once Szpilman is alone, holed up in a series of empty apartments, peering helplessly through the windows at the war’s devastation, Polanski brings a fresh perspective. The shots of an emaciated, barely alive Szpilman, wandering like a ghost through the rubble of the bombed-out ghetto, are unforgettable. A Polish Holocaust survivor himself, the director films Szpilman’s story with a clarity and authority that clearly derive from his own experience. Both Polanski -- who fled the U.S. decades ago after statutory rape charges -- and newcomer Brody scored upsets at the 2003 Academy Awards, winning the Best Director and Best Actor awards, respectively. Their surprise triumphs are testaments to the power of this remarkable film.
All Movie Guide - Adam Bregman
This powerful film by Roman Polanski tackles a subject matter and time that has been covered exhaustively in feature films, TV movies and documentaries, but The Pianist is another exceptional story that needed to be told. There have been plenty of dramas regarding the Warsaw Ghetto and the Jewish resistance, but less about the nearly complete destruction of Warsaw by the Nazis near the end of the war just as the Russians were closing in. The Pianist is mostly from the perspective of Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), who escapes the concentration camps by luck and is briefly involved in smuggling guns into the Warsaw Ghetto. He escapes the Ghetto with the help of the Polish resistance and spends the rest of the film struggling to survive, while watching the unfolding events in Warsaw as the city is torn to pieces by the Nazis. It is a harrowing and moving story and Szpilman is a completely sympathetic character who doesn't seem at first cut out to survive under such conditions. There are both good and bad Jews, Poles and Nazis in the story, though most of the Nazi characters with the exception of Captain Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann) are monstrous. Aside from the relentless horrors that Szpilman witnesses, there are moments of great beauty in the film especially in the scenes where he plays piano. The cinematography by Pawel Edelman is fantastic. Beyond being a great film, The Pianist is a testament to the incredible struggle of the Polish people during World War II.
All Movie Guide
This powerful film by Roman Polanski tackles a subject matter and time that has been covered exhaustively in feature films, TV movies and documentaries, but The Pianist is another exceptional story that needed to be told. There have been plenty of dramas regarding the Warsaw Ghetto and the Jewish resistance, but less about the nearly complete destruction of Warsaw by the Nazis near the end of the war just as the Russians were closing in. The Pianist is mostly from the perspective of Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), who escapes the concentration camps by luck and is briefly involved in smuggling guns into the Warsaw Ghetto. He escapes the Ghetto with the help of the Polish resistance and spends the rest of the film struggling to survive, while watching the unfolding events in Warsaw as the city is torn to pieces by the Nazis. It is a harrowing and moving story and Szpilman is a completely sympathetic character who doesn't seem at first cut out to survive under such conditions. There are both good and bad Jews, Poles and Nazis in the story, though most of the Nazi characters with the exception of Captain Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann) are monstrous. Aside from the relentless horrors that Szpilman witnesses, there are moments of great beauty in the film especially in the scenes where he plays piano. The cinematography by Pawel Edelman is fantastic. Beyond being a great film, The Pianist is a testament to the incredible struggle of the Polish people during World War II. Adam Bregman
Entertainment Weekly
A movie of riveting power and sadness. Lisa Schwarzbaum
New York Times - A.O. Scott
One of the very few nondocumentary movies about Jewish life and death under the Nazis that can be called definitive.
Washington Post
A near-masterpiece. Desson Howe
New York Observer
A great film of integrity and unforgettable power that leaves you breathless with gratitude. Rex Reed

Product Details

Release Date:
09/02/2003
UPC:
0096896106636
Original Release:
2002
Rating:
R
Source:
Universal Studios

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Adrien Brody Wladyslaw Szpilman
Thomas Kretschmann Captain Wilm Hosenfeld
Frank Finlay The father
Maureen Lipman The mother
Emilia Fox Dorota
Ed Stoppard Henryk
Julia Rayner Regina
Jessica Kate Meyer Halina
Ruth Platt Janina
Michal Zebrowski Jurek
Katarzyna Figura Neighbor

Technical Credits
Roman Polanski Director,Producer
Robert Benmussa Producer
Jean-Marie Blondel Sound/Sound Designer
Timothy Burrill Executive Producer
Hervé de Luze Editor
Pawel Edelman Cinematographer
Celestia Fox Casting
Gene Gutowski Co-producer
Ronald Harwood Screenwriter
Wojciech Kilar Score Composer
Christian Kunstler Special Effects Supervisor
Heta Mantscheff Casting
Henning Molfenter Executive Producer
Ralph Remstedt Asst. Director
Lew Rywin Executive Producer
Alain Sarde Producer
Rainer Schaper Associate Producer
Anna Sheppard Costumes/Costume Designer
Allan Starski Production Designer

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The Pianist 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
As morbid as it sounds,I have always been drawn to this particular period of history, the holocaust and the personal stories of its survivors. I loved this film above and beyond any others of this nature. I adore it for countless reasons. Polanski has such an eye for simplicity in the many poignant moments of this story. Although the horror and shock that you have read about is still present, Polanski managed to maintain the most important elements of these people's lives such as integrity, hope, art, innocence, humanity or lack there of. Then to watch it all be stripped away in the manner that it was, was exquisite and heart wrenching. The conscience works over time and you can feel the pit of your stomach cave in. The duration of the film, you feel surrounded. You want to say 'What is happening, I can't believe this is happening', you want to stop it but you know the fate is inevitable. Like Szpilman, we must watch and wish. I could never be so quick or street smart. I am astounded and I wonder 'How did you do it when so many couldn't'? But the answer is there in Brody's eyes. It is there in the music and in every audience member who could not and would not leave until the credits where over and we had finished this man's journey with him. Beauty.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Roman Polanski did a great job adapting a great book into an amazing film. Adrien Brody did an excellent job portraying Wladyslaw Szpilman. This film was intense and very moving. I cried throughout the entire movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Pianist is one of the most amazing movies I have ever had the privilege to watch. This is not simply a movie to enjoy, it is a movie to dive into, be swallowed up by, get folded over and lost in. It is brutally honest, shockingly real, horrifying brilliant, fighteningly beautiful and almost embarassingly addictive. Adrien Brody portrays Wladyslaw Szpilman, a young and talented Polish pianist who survives the holocaust and died just over two years ago. Brody delivers a phenominal performance, haunting and heartbreaking. His big, wet, beautiful eyes drag you in and by the time the movie is over you are completely smitten with him. He deserved every inch of that golden statue. This is a movie that will go up on your shelf right alongside Schindler's List (if they ever decide to release it on DVD). Beautifully directed and brilliantly acted, this is a timeless, wonderful film.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I eagerly awaited this movie about a fellow musician. However, what I saw was not at all what I expected, but in a very good way. The was horrifying but in a very revelant way, it showed the indomitable spirit of man and his tenacious hold on life. It also showed admirably how music can help a person survive no matter how hard the circumstances. Excellent!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think everyone who has reviews the movie so far has summed up a lot of my opinions/feelings towards it. It is one of the few movies that has stayed with me in my mind for a long time (for ever since I saw it at the theatre). It makes you think about a lot of things, it affects you at a deeper level, and it is surely educational so that we never forget about the cruelties of human history. I think it was amazing in the sense that it is a simple story, nothing too heroic about Mr.Szpilman in that he didn't fight out the war or lead the revolution of the ghetto, but he survived just like any other human would try to survive during WWII--by simply trying to stay alive. The force of will and never wanting to give up is what makes you feel respect for Szpilman. What I like about this story is that, first, it is a Holocaust story but yet it's not set in a concentration camp. It gives a closer look at the war. Second, most of people that lived during the war simply tryed to stay alive and in that sense one can relate to the story. And I think Adrien Brody summed it very well in his Oscar acceptance speech--it makes you think of what war does to people. Speaking of Mr. Brody, hi really made the movie. Credits to all the crew and the cast, but his performance is what makes this movie exceptional. Very very well-deserved Oscar, he gave a great performance, and he has those Eastern European looks to make his role more authentic. It was the first time I heard of Brody but I am looking forward to seeing him again in other movies. I usually don't buy a lot of videos but this one is definitely one that will go in my collection. I recommend it especially if you like history and WWII stories.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a powerful well made movie wich must be seen. Direction and actiong is superb much deserving of three academy awards notably for best director and best actor.please see this movie, even if your not used to ''slow'' movies stick with it you will be glad you did!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is undoubtedly the most shattering film I've ever watched. The stark reality of Mr. Szpilman's experiences during the holocaust was, at times, difficult to watch....but oh, so necessary. The dignity of this man and his people who suffered such devastation at the hands of Hitler and his Nazi party should be an inspiration to us all. The fact that this was one man's true story makes the story so much more vibrant. Adrien Brody's performance is completely deserving of his Oscar win. Never before have I seen an actor take command of an entire story with such eloquence, even in silence. His evolution from the young and happy man living in the heart of his family to the virtual shell of a man who had been too long without human contact was thoroughly believable and entirely heartwrenching. This film, while not shirking in the depiction of the inhumanity of the Nazi's, skillfully shows that there is good and evil an all people and all races is so very needed today. The fact that Mr. Szpilman survived his ordeal and went on to live a successful love-filled life is the best part of this. See this film! See it sooner rather than later!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I WILL DEFINITELY BUY THIS ONE! WHICH IS RARE FOR ME TO SAY! THE SHEER COLDNESS OF THE NAZI TROOPS WILL SHOCK YOU. I KEEP REMEMBERING A SCENE WHERE THE NAZIS ARE HERDING UP SOME JEWS, AND THIS WOMAN QUIETLY ASKES 'WHERE ARE WE GOING'? THE GERMAN CALMLY RAISES HIS PISTOL TO HER FORE-HEAD AND SHOOTS HER...WOW!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing movie! the music is fantastic and the actually movie is so sad!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As I was walking out of the movie thearter that night I felt like I aged a thousand years in just 2 and a half hours,I felt older than just 14-years-old,I felt like I had seen so much...and yet I still have so much to see and learn. I grew-up that night,all my child-ish feelings and thoughts,my silly dreams,vanished in a whisper...and when I look back on the Jew-ish suffering,I will whisper a prayer for all of them. I felt so more mature then my ''friends'',they seemed so far away,like they didn't know anything. I used to sigh when my mother noted that I had to practice piano,now I play harder than ever,now I worship piano,I play it for Wladyslaw Szpilman,his family,his friends,his neighbors,I play for Adrien Brody,(the most beautiful,sexiest man in the world!)Thank-you Wladyslaw Szpilman,you helped me grow-up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is simply unparalleled. Polanski portrays the crude reality of the German occupation of Warsaw Poland with breath taking brilliance. One cannot walk away from this film without being haunted by the poignancy of its enduring theme. This film is a credit to cinema: a portrait of the human spirit. What is not expressed in prose is expressed in the cinematography, music and the theatrical (dramatic) expression of Adrien Brody. The Pianist is a story of life; with all the vicissitudes that accompany circumstance--whether through war or disease--the magnitude of the human spirit cannot be suppressed. The Pianist is both a biography of Szpilman and an elegy to every Jewish victim of genocide and the tyranny of German folly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Pianist by Roman Polanski is quite impressive. Even though the movie depicts horror and tragedy that the jews faced in warsaw poland,1940; I find it quite interesting. Szpilman(the main character played by Adrien Brody) was just a young pianist until Warsaw was invaded by the Nazis in the 1940's. This movie is very sad, because not only does Szpilman lose his dignity as a human being but he loses his family. Szpilman's life was saved by a Jewish Officer who worked for the nazis. When In Hiding a German Officer discover him.Szpilman's life was saved by a German Officer who heard him play Chopin on the paino. I highly recommend this movie to History Lovers.
ibizan More than 1 year ago
Evocative and thought provoking!Adrien Brody outdid himself!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The utter despair and devastation of World War II Warsaw comes to life in this poignant tale of one man's battle for survival. The performances are flawless.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was one of the best movies I have ever seen.I saw it with my dad and I loved it!I saw it a month and 3 weeks ago today.I enjoyed and will not forget it, eventually.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just loved Adrian Brodys performence. He did deserve the oscar no matter who says otherwise. I would say that the direction was excellent but Polanski is a Pedifiling wussy. This movie deserved what it got and everything more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Long, boring. Nice, but not very strong. It looked like it was trying to master the formula that Schindler's List set. Ash raining? A bold try for realistic image. Actually, most of it doesn't look realistic. In the end, the holocaust survivors looked strong and mighty, at least verbally. So, it means that they didn't really suffer? 2 and 1/2 hours, that was a long time to watch. Oscar for Brody doesn't seem to be a worthy achievement. He looked all right in his role. When I compare his role to Jack Nicholson's role of JJ Gittes of Chinatown, Jack blows the doors off. I believe Roman is little bit off in matching the meticulously made film, Chinatown. I wish Roman could do something great as Chinatown again, but I think he needs to go back to the 1950's to 1970's formula, rather than 2000's formula, because it worked the best for him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A little plodding, yes. But towards the end, I was left stunned by what I just saw and had no care about the length of time that had passed. There is careful attention to detail, fantastic cinematography, great character development and performances that are among the finest that I've ever witnessed in a motion picture. The subtleness of some scenes, particularly the violent ones, was quite shocking but very relevant to the story. And Polanski's ability to take 'color' and make it seem 'black and white' is remarkable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing story and easily the best Holocaust movie ever made. Chicago so should not have won over this, but it's not my decision that counts. Adrien Brody is phenomenal and Polanski's direction is superb.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Adrienne Brody did an excellent job along with all others in this somber story about harsh treatment and an individual fight for the right to just live. What I learned from this was that these people were fine sophisticated hard working, and stuck up for them selves, but when you get down to it when they were invaded you had nazis, the Polish army, local police dept,even Jewish police rounding citizens up without giving any thought about rights. The struggle he had, and throughout the movie there were a few close calls and lucky breaks. Im not a critic by profession but this was a film that was excellent. I cant say I enjoyed it(how could you),but it was excellent work and enlightened me to a side I never thought would have happened.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I admire the courage of Roman Polanski, who addressed such a painfull and personal for him theme and made a remarkable and honest movie. I think nobody so far was able to describe the horror of the Holocaust in the movie so personally and objectivelly at the same time. The most terrifying moments on the screen were very quet and that made them more powerfull and haunting. Polanski proved himself as a brilliant director again. And Brody was absolutely excellent.