I purchased this movie on DVD in July without having seen the movie. I still hadn’t seen it on Wednesday, when I was able to see it in the theater for free as part of an event commemorating the Night of Broken Glass.
There is a documentary feel to the movie, and that feeling is emphasized by the lack of opening credits. I didn’t expect to be thrown into the movie immediately, but when I thought about it afterwards, I realized that it was a wise decision as a documentary feel is often the best choice for this kind of movie.
Some of the scenes that really affected me in one way or another were when the German soldiers drive into the ghetto and walk in on a couple of people who are eating, when a woman drops the food she is trying to protect and no one does anything when she cries for help, when the Szpilmans buy and share a small piece of candy, what happens when a girl about to be deported asks a German officer where she will be taken, when Wladyslaw plays the piano after being told to do so by the sympathetic Captain Wilm Hosenfeld, and when Wladyslaw near the end of the movie tells the Red Army soldiers that he is wearing a German coat because he is cold and it does not matter to him who that coat belonged to. I also liked that there was no sound except a ringing tone in the scene where a tank destroys the apartment Wladyslaw is locked into—a very effective scene. Furthermore, the music and images that accompany the end credits are very suitable and memorable.
I think the fact that Wladyslaw managed to survive largely due to enormous luck only serves to make this movie better and even more interesting. The movie shows everything from Wladyslaw’s point of view, and it is obvious that he is not a hero but a man who is simply trying to stay alive.
The Pianist is a beautiful, thought-provoking, heavy, disturbing, shocking, and emotional movie with excellent acting (Adrien Brody is outstanding) and wonderful music. It brings up many important issues. Schindler’s List, Hotel Rwanda, and this movie form a trio of movies everyone should see, not only because they are truly great movies but also because the stories they tell must never be forgotten.