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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Pianist (2002)



Reviews and Comments

Roman Polanski's film adaptation of the autobiography of holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman is an amazing work. It will be compared with Schindler's List, in that it is uncomfortably successful at manifesting the unspeakable horrors visited upon Jews at the time, but the themes and perspectives of the films are quite different. The Pianist is not about heroics, even unintentional heroics, just about a man who, unlike so many others, happened to live through the chaos. It does not try to delve into hows or whys, does not explore moral quandaries, but perhaps meaninglessness is part of what Polanski has to say. I would have preferred it if Polanski had gone a step further and explored the humanity in such horrible times, but the film certainly depicts the holocaust with an eye for detail. Polanski, a holocaust survivor himself, has clearly drawn upon his own experiences to establish the mood and feeling of Szpilman's ordeal. There are horrific acts of violence, true, but one of the great accomplishments of the film is how it makes the less cinematic threat of starvation just as terrifying.