The Pianist

Roman Polanski, France, Germany, Poland, UK, 2002o


The fate of Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, who hid in deserted ruins for months after the Warsaw ghetto was dissolved with the help of Polish resistance fighters and was saved from starvation by a German Wehrmacht officer. Director Roman Polanski also uses this authentic story to come to terms with his own past.

The Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2002, the Oscars for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor in a Leading Role in 2003, currently almost a million ratings on IMDb with an average score of 8.5: it's difficult to write that Roman Polanski's drama about the Holocaust in Warsaw seems slightly theatrical in the first act a good twenty years after its premiere and that the casting of Anglo-Saxon actors in the leading roles is still irritating. But then this: Once the naïve optimism with which the family of the Jewish pianist Szpilman acknowledges the supposedly short-lived occupation of Poland by Hitler's Germany and fails to recognize the Nazis' extermination strategy even in the ghetto has been extinguished, the film grows to its historical greatness. Szpilman's accommodation in empty apartments, his loneliness, his hunger and his escapes through the ruins of the war, and finally his perseverance in the winter cold in an attic, are ludicrous and harrowing. The struggle for survival now proceeds almost wordlessly in increasingly hostile settings. Polanski and his actor Adrien Brody show Szpilman not as a hero, but as a plaything of chance and fate, as a living monument to an injustice of biblical proportions. Finally, the images and the playing, the intonation and the few gestures, the timing and the pauses in the final sequence, in which the pianist meets a German Wehrmacht officer, has to play for him and is recognized by him as a human being, are unforgettable. Similar to his (real-life) main character, Polanski survived the Krakow ghetto as a supposed orphan, his father the Mathausen concentration camp, while his mother died in Auschwitz. Even if the now 90-year-old had never filmed anything other than the last 45 minutes of The Pianist: he would be assured of a piece of immortality.

Andreas Furler


Movie Datao

Other titles
Der Pianist DE
Le Pianiste FR
Drama, War
Running time
150 Min.
Original languages
English, German, Russian
ØYour rating8.5/10
IMDB user:
8.5 (905893)
< 10 votes
< 3 votes q

Cast & Crewo

Adrien BrodyWladyslaw Szpilman
Thomas KretschmannCaptain Wilm Hosenfeld
Frank FinlayFather
We use cookies. By continuing to surf on you agree to our cookie policy. For details see our privacy policy.