Review of "The Pianist"

Essay by supra2900College, Undergraduate April 2004

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The Pianist, simply put, is a fantastic story of survival and the ability of the human spirit to endure. It gives overwhelming testimony to both people's capacity for evil and for good. The film, directed by Roman Polanski, is based on the autobiographical book about the years of the Holocaust by the late Wladyslaw Szpilman, one of the greatest pianists in the world. The Pianist is a great movie on a powerful subject, directed with such inspiration and skill that, as we watch, the barriers of the screen seems to dissolve.

The film is the real-life story of Szpilman, a talented musician who manages to survive the war mostly through luck and the kindness of several people in the city. Prior to World War II, Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) is a famous pianist who plays for the Polish radio, but when bombs begin falling on Warsaw, he soon feels the Nazis tearing his freedoms and life from him.

First he loses his dignity because he and his family, along with all other Jewish people, must wear identifying stars of David when out in public. Before long, the Nazis move them into the Warsaw ghetto, where hundreds of thousands of people must crowd into a tiny area. The Nazis then wall the entire area off from the main city, holding the Jews captive, but the situation becomes worse as the Nazis execute women, children, and elderly people along with the younger, more capable adults in numerous senseless killings.

Through all this, Szpilman does encounter a bit of luck. His first bit of luck occurs when an old friend who is part of the Jewish police force manages to save his life by helping him to escape the trains headed for Auschwitz and certain death. The rest of...