My cousin was blessed to have a history teacher who decided to screen this film during her class, and I wish I had teachers like that too. So anyway, better late now than never. I watched The Pianist last week with my sister, who was super squirmy during some of the torture scenes. They weren’t that bad! I felt that compared to Schindler’s List, The Pianist was less of an uncomfortable experience, and you could watch this movie over a meal if you needed to. There was a lot of brutal, humiliating torture scenes documented with detail in the Schindler’s List, and none of which were in The Pianist.
I felt that the focus of this film wasn’t really to condemn the range of atrocities committed by the Germans, nor to show the adversities faced by the Jews then, but to instead shed light on how there were innately good people from both sides of the war living in Warsaw, helping each other secretly. That was what I enjoyed the most from the film. That and of course, Adrien Brody’s skillful performance of his character’s physical and psychological descent into madness.
Adrien Brody plays Wladyslaw Szpilman, a famous pianist who plays for the local radio station. He dresses up like a fine gentleman and constantly speaks through whispered words even though midway he winds up living in miserable conditions, surrounded by death and no one to talk to. The opening scene tells us a lot about Szpilman’s love and pride for his music: him refusing to stop playing even though the building he was in was under attack! The emotions then hit us when we see him struggle from one hiding place to another, banned from the freedom to make any noise, much less listen to or play any music.
But The Pianist was a surprisingly optimistic film, with snippets of hope from start to end to keep the audience constantly engaged and rooting for Szpilman. As someone who generally does not enjoy movies about the second world war, I didn’t find The Pianist a chore to watch. I felt drawn towards Brody’s portrayal of Szpilman, a calm and dignified presence even when he loses his sanity.
If we were to compare films from this context side by side, I would say The Pianist was more satisfying than Schindler’s List, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Inglorious Basterds (off the top of my head these are the few films that come to my mind).
Trailer: No spoilers – here
Would Rewatch: Yes
Rating: PG13 (violence)
Good Film: Yes