Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
France/Poland/Germany/United Kingdom, 2002. , , , Runteam, Canal+, StudioCanal, Bac Films, , Telewizja Polska, , , FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Filmförderungsanstalt. Screenplay by Ronald Harwood, based on the book by Wladyslaw Szpilman. Cinematography by Pawel Edelman. Produced by Robert Benmussa, Roman Polanski, Alain Sarde. Music by Wojciech Kilar. Production Design by Allan Starski. Costume Design by Anna B. Sheppard. Film Editing by Herve de Luze. Academy Awards 2002. Boston Film Critics Awards 2002. Cannes Film Festival 2002. Golden Globe Awards 2002. National Board of Review Awards 2002.
Wladislaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew living with his family in 1940s Warsaw, has his life as a famous pianist turned completely around when Nazis invade and the city is turned into a war zone. This excellent film by Roman Polanski, which features more depth and skill than the director has shown in many years, details the Szpilman family’s life from being moved to the ghetto through to them being split apart and sent to the camps. Wladislaw (Adrien Brody) is the only one who does not join the rest of his group, rescued by a friend and living in hiding until the end of the war when a curious twist of fate has his great talent serve him as a lifesaver. Brody’s performance is so fantastic that it literally gives this beautiful film its beating pulse; even when he spends endless amounts of time alone without any dialogue to work with, he is bringing us into his emotional state of being and making us feel what he is going through. Polanski hasn’t earned this much reverence as a film artist since maybe the days of Chinatown or Tess, and there’s no denying that this excellent film, which touches on his own experiences as a Holocaust survivor, is the best film on the subject right next to Schindler’s List (barring all the excellent documentaries). It’s a harrowing experience and one that unflinchingly details the unfathomable horrors of the Third Reich, but one filled with love and hope at the same time.