The Pianist



Brace yourself.

From Yahoo! Movies:

An adaptation based on the autobiography of the acclaimed Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who detailed his survival during World War II, and narrowly escaped a roundup that sent his family to a death camp. A composer and pianist, Szpilman played the last live music heard over Polish radio airwaves before Nazi artillery hit. There, in Poland, Szpilman struggled to stay alive--even when cast away from those he loved. He spent the duration of the war hiding in the ruins of Warsaw and scavenging for food and shelter. Szpilman eventually reclaimed his artistic gifts, and confronted his fears--with aid from the unlikeliest of sources.

I remember all of the hype surrounding the release of this film, but never saw it in theaters. Anything with a musical instrument remotely associated with it just doesn't appeal to me. I don't remember how this ended up in my Netflix queue, and to think that I nearly didn't watch it and almost returned it, sight unseen, with all the other rented-but-unwatched award-winning flicks that somehow fail to capture one's attention....

Forget everything.

The Pianist is one of the most powerful, emotionally-stirring movies I can remember seeing in recent years. Szpilman's struggle to survive under the most unimaginable conditions is nothing short of extraordinary. The story unfolds and quickly comes to a ferocious boil right before your eyes: bombs slamming down around people in Warsaw, the occupation by Nazi Germany, the segregation of the Jewish community and the subsequent persecution, deportation, execution...there are no words for this.

Neighbors executed in plain sight. Families gunned down in the streets. Children murdered. This is not the stuff of an ordinary film, and no movie review could feign doing it justice.

Szpilman's story of survival is unlike anything I could conceive. Time and time again he narrowly escapes death, cheating it by a hair's width. He is pulled out of line and watches his family board a train to a death camp. He is shot at, shelled, starved, beaten, betrayed, terrified, tormented, deathly ill... the list goes on. Adrian Brody's portrayal of Szpilman is flawless. Brody is magnificent in this role.

For the record, Job didn't go through as many trials as Wladyslaw Szpilman.

Filmed in Berlin and Warsaw, a remarkable job was done capturing the period of the work on film. The fact that the bombed-out city isn't computer generated, but actual buildings that were partially demolished is just one example of the remarkable work put into telling this incredible story. This motion picture is in the top 250 user-rated films on IMDB, currently (as of May 5, 2007) No. 51.

The Pianist is a remarkable work. The cast and crew have delivered a deeply-moving work which deserves every bit of praise. If this film doesn't evoke some powerful emotional responses from the viewer, that's tragic.

A gut-wrenching story of survival, of family, of life and loss... totally worth watching.

Score: 5/5


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