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The Pianist

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Pianist

Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann
Director: Roman Polanski
Rated: R
RunTime: 148 Minutes
Release Date: December 2002
Genres: Drama, War

*Also starring: Emilia Fox, Maureen Lipman, Ed Stoppard, Frank Finlay

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Based on celebrated composer/pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman's 1946 memoir, "Death of a City," this epic Holocaust-survivor story revolves around the plight of a talented musician who was playing piano on Polish state radio when Hitler's Luftwaffe attacked Warsaw in September, 1939. At first unbelieving, Wladyslaw (Adrien Brody) and his family struggle to maintain some semblance of a lifestyle within the cruel, humiliating restrictions imposed on the half-million Jews who were herded into the walled Ghetto. However, it soon becomes apparent that they're doomed to slaughter on the streets or in the death camp. Only Wladyslaw manages to escape the brutal, mandatory deportation. Aided by admirers, he's sheltered from capture by a series of sympathizers and Resistance fighters who hide him in attics or cellars until he's forced to fend for himself - once, by pretending to be a corpse. In one subtle yet astonishing sequence, he's discovered by a Nazi officer who, miraculously, decides not to turn him in, choosing, instead, to listen - transfixed - as he plays a concerto. Director Roman Polanski (who as a child escaped from the Ghetto by crawling through a hole in a barbed-wire fence), screenwriter Ronald Harwood, cinematographer Pawel Edelman and production designer Allan Starski (Oscar-winner for "Schindler's List") impeccably re-create the atrocities of that sad, horrifying era of 20th-century history. As for Wladyslaw Szpilman, he died at 88 in 2000. Although not on a level with "Schindler's List," on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Pianist" is a haunting 9. For those who enjoy trivia: the little girl carrying the empty bird cage in a crowd scene is Polanski's 11 year-old daughter Morgan; it's a poignant moment comparable to Steven Spielberg's "the girl with the red dress."

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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