Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Winner of the prestigious Golden Palm award at the 2002 Cannes film festival, The Pianist is the film that Roman Polanski was born to direct. A childhood survivor of Nazi-occupied Poland, Polanski was uniquely suited to te... more »
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Polanski's Paean to Poland
Bruce Kendall | Southern Pines, NC | 04/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After suffering through the excruciating experience of viewing "The Ninth Gate", I despaired that a once creative and vital director had lost his touch. "The Pianist" more than compensates for that chaotic, unintended farce. Polanski has let the world know loud (and I do mean that literally and figuratively) and clear that he still possesses the artistic goods. This is his first film since "Knife in the Water" to be set in his native Poland. His feeling for his native land rings forth in every frame. From the music of Chopin, to the scenes of the Warsaw trains on their way to Treblinka, packed to the absolute extreme with their human cargo, Polanski lets us experience, practically first hand, what it meant in the late 30s, early 40s, to be a Jew in Warsaw. It was precisely the wrong thing to be at precisely the wrong time in human history. Whereas the other great Holocost movie of recent years "Schindler's List" relies so heavily on visual representation (though it does have a moving soundtrack), Polanski combines brutal images with high decibal sound to stun and startle us into a deeper, more visceral understanding of what the title character, Wladyslaw Szpilman, experienced as a young artist in WWII Poland. During one scene, a bomb explodes so loudly that I actually thought for a few seconds that my hearing had been damaged, as a ringing noise on the soundtrack synchronizes with Szpilman's gesture as he winces and cups his ear with his hand . That's about as visceral as I want to go in a cinema experience. It's also one aspect that wont be as effective at home, unless one is blessed with a state of the art sound system. While this film is exceedingly stark, grim and shocking (you will understand from where the term "shock troops" derives), it also contains moments of great beauty and humanity. Even in moments of the most extreme deprivation and isolation, a human hand comes to Szpilman's assistance and helps him survive. Oscar awards were certainly deserved for both Polanski and Adrian Brody (Best Actor). It is essentially their film. Though the supporting roles are well played, Brody is in every scene of the film, so it is his to carry. It is a bravura performance. He never overacts or overreacts. He subtly displays the gradual despair and increasing horror as Warsaw crumbles around him. No matter how one feels about Polanski, personally, "The Pianist" proves that he remains among the top ten directors of his generation. This love letter to his native land is tinged with tears, a combination which renders it amazingly effective."
ira saposnik | Nashville TN | 02/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have a PhD in history and have been a student of WW2 for a number of years. This film was so gripping that NO ONE moved from their seats. There was NO TALKING, NO COUGHING. The theatre was absolutely silent and at the end NO ONE got up to leave.
This is because this film is so incredibly well done that you cannot help but become personally involved. It is a true story as well. I urge everyone who wants to see what life under the 3rd Reich was like in their Eastern Conquests to see this. Not only are Jews murdered indiscriminately, it also shows the effects on Poles and the scenes of a destroyed Warsaw stop you in your tracks.
When you leave this film, you will know you have seen one of the finest films EVER made, Polanski's masterpiece. It tells of events that are changed from words into visual scenes, and individual people. The effect is awesome. Please go see it."
Easily one of the best films of 2002
Mark Lee | 02/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Pianist" is the true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew and a brilliant pianist who lived in Warsaw during World War II. Beginning soon after the Blitzkrieg, the film follows Szpilman?s experience as he witnesses all the oppression from the Germans, from restricting Jewish access to executing Jews in rows. Before long, Szpilman?s family is brought together to be shipped off to Nazi labor camps, but he manages to elude deportation. From then on, Szpilman tries to survive among the devastated Warsaw ghetto. It is difficult to decide where to begin praising a film as good as this. Having also lived in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II, director Roman Polanski has now created a marvelous film that unflinchingly shows the horrors of the Holocaust, yet has great moments of kindness and triumph as well. The film presents many disturbing images, and it is not for the faint of heart. However, Polanski always keeps Szpilman?s survival to be the main focus throughout the film, with the cruelty of the Nazis as a secondary theme. Thus, "The Pianist" never shoves brutality in your face just for shock value. Instead, it comes off as both a thrilling tale of survival and a genuinely moving tribute to the human spirit.The meticulous direction leaves even the shortest of individual scenes lingering in the viewer?s mind. For example, one scene shows a woman being shot in the back while running down the street, and Polanski had told the actress EXACTLY how to slump down and keel into a lifeless position; he said this was the way he had once seen a woman die while he was a child in Warsaw. Other equally memorable moments include images of Szpilman drinking whatever water he can find, and one of the most harrowing scenes involves a man in a wheelchair being thrown from his apartment into the street. The technical elements are superb as well; everything is done in such an incredibly realistic way that the audience virtually becomes a first-hand witness of everything Szpilman goes through. The cinematography, costume design, and sound effects editing make Warsaw come to life with all its sounds and sights. Particularly noteworthy: the desolate snow-covered buildings, the smoke rising into the clouds from burning corpses, and the momentary loss of sound as Szpilman is temporarily deafened by a tank blast. But the performance by lead actor Adrien Brody is what really makes the entire film so thoroughly memorable and engrossing. Brody is rarely seen off-camera, so a lot depends on him being able to tell much of the story himself. His actions and eyes speak so much without him having to say anything; I will never forget the look on his face after he accidentally broke a set of dishes. The other actors (such as Ed Stoppard, Thomas Kretschmann, and Emilia Fox) don?t get nearly as much screen time, but they too do well with what they?ve been given.Finally, the denouement is unforgettable. No one will be breathing during the last half-hour of this film. It starts off remarkably tense, but the last 15 minutes progress with increasing poignancy. When the film came to its finish and the credits began to appear, no one in my local movie theater dared to move a muscle; everyone sat through all the credits and watched the film to its very end. Recommendations don?t get much higher than that.Not easy to watch, but certainly rewarding, this independent film will leave its haunting spell in your mind for years to come. Truly amazing on all counts, "The Pianist" is one of the best films of 2002, and it will be a crying shame if it doesn't get at least a few Oscar nominations. See it now."
The Real Thing
* | Warsaw, Poland | 10/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Almost a documentary.This movie is true to the life story of Szpilman, the pianist, and almost to the letter follows the book Szpilman wrote. The only major licencia poetica I noticed is the placement of Szpilman's hideout in the routinely destroyed and totally deserted city - a result of the two uprisings: in 1943 and most definitely that of 1944 - at the very same building that the good natured German officer selected for army offices.Polanski wanted the true and most dramatic story to speak for itself and on purpose gave up on these well known movie tricks that make less powerful stories squeeze our tears so generously in the movie theaters. To be honest - this is a pity. A real story AND a popular touch make for the most effective works. But perhaps I understand Polanski's reasons for this and I certainly respect them. You just do not want any semblance between depiction of tragedy of such proportions and the regular every year productions. And also - Polanski was part of the drama of 1939-1945, living not further than two hundred miles from the place where the Pianist lived and survived, too. "The Pianist" has a feel of a documentary. The movie structure - a series of glimpses of Szpilman's life, each of them grabing your total attention, because each of them is almost more than an average human being experience in a whole life, at least as most of us know life today. A word said, the timing of entering a staircase, a positioning taken in a row of forced laborers is a decision - or - a circumstance of life and death consequences.Being from that country I will not dodge the sensitive issue. There are many bad people and some good people in this true story. There are many good Jews, and some bad Jews. There are many good Poles, and many bad Poles. There are many bad Germans and one good German. The last one stands out. Courtesy of that "national background" his decent acts - not killing Szpilman (a heroism in pure form it is not), and giving him food and a coat stand out. I watched this movie at 9:15 a.m. in a cinema filled with youngsters sent by the schools. The silence in the room, all over those 130 minutes or so, was stunning."