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The Pianist (2002)



Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 178
Fresh: 170 | Rotten: 8

Well-acted and dramatically moving, The Pianist is Polanski's best work in years.


Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 36 | Rotten: 2

Well-acted and dramatically moving, The Pianist is Polanski's best work in years.



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 249,149

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Movie Info

Filmmaker Roman Polanski, who as a boy growing up in Poland watched while the Nazis devastated his country during World War II, directed this downbeat drama based on the true story of a privileged musician who spent five years struggling against the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) is a gifted classical pianist born to a wealthy Jewish family in Poland. The Szpilmans have a large and comfortable flat in Warsaw which Wladyslaw shares with his mother and father (Maureen



Ronald Harwood, Wladyslaw Szpilman

May 27, 2003


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All Critics (186) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (170) | Rotten (8) | DVD (26)

Old-fashioned in both visual and narrative style and in its overall restraint, the film clearly benefits from the director's first-hand knowledge of the territory.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brody is a sublimely haunting presence at the heart of The Pianist.

January 16, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's Roman Polanski's strongest and most personally felt movie.

January 16, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Magazine | Comments (2)
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In going home to tell Szpilman's story Polanski seems reborn: once again he's become a filmmaker who matters.

January 14, 2003
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We admire this film for its harsh objectivity and refusal to seek our tears, our sympathies.

January 13, 2003 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brody tracks Szpilman's descent from smug celebrity to feral, starving man with uncommon subtlety.

January 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

True story of a Jewish pianist; OK for older kids.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" is the director's finest achievement, and elevates Adrien Brody (Oscar win for Best Actor 2002) to eminence in his representation of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who survived the Nazi occupation of Warsaw.

May 26, 2009 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

A film that rivals every one of the greatest Holocaust films ever made...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

While the film itself may not live up to the advance hype, Brody exceeds expectations.

February 1, 2009 Full Review Source:

Une belle réussite fait menant à une réflexion honnête sur un sujet face auquel on aurait pu croire que tout aavait déjà été dit.

July 4, 2007 Full Review Source: Panorama

[I]t takes six or seven people to keep one half-dead Jew alive.... Wladyslaw's situation is extraordinary but what's happening on screen doesn't really feel so extraordinary. There's almost no emphasis, no point of view.

March 22, 2006 Full Review Source: | Comments (2)

We have been to these ghettos before, seen the skeletons (both alive and dead), smelled the burning. It's not a movie at all for us, is it?

January 4, 2006 Full Review Source:

By comparison, Schindler's List is Pretentious Hollywood crap.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs | Comment (1)
Three Movie Buffs

The Pianist is a serious movie brought out in a tabloid-besotted time, a prestige picture that invigorates, a study of character and history that knows irony to be a part of life and not the purpose of art.

March 3, 2005
The Nation

I get the feeling that Polanski is expressing through this movie how he deals with such painful scars, haunting memories, and lasting grief.

January 15, 2005
Looking Closer

Polanski, like so many performers and artists' managers of the present day, makes the classic mistake of not trusting the art.

October 10, 2004 Full Review Source: JWR

As a result of the attention to detail and commitment of Polanski and Brody, this is a harrowing, realistic story of what it was like to live in the Warsaw Ghetto and under Nazi occupation.

October 7, 2004 Full Review Source:

As someone whose Holocaust memories are burned into his psyche, Polanski finds the no-frills truth in this devastated landscape.

February 4, 2004 Full Review
Atlantic City Weekly

The fact that the director never once caves into easy sentiment or cheap hectoring is almost as amazing as the story itself.

August 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

As the ghetto atrocities increase, Roman Polanski gets to the core of his brilliance as a director - his ability to balance the film's exterior nightmares with Szpilman's internal hell.

June 26, 2003 Full Review

. . .the film grasps the most torturous time in the world's history with monumental levels of emotion and pathos.

June 10, 2003 Full Review Source:

Emotional engagement has never been one of Polanski's strong suits, but the film succeeds in spite of that.

June 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

It's the rare film which can still grab your attention months after viewing, and The Pianist was one of them.

May 11, 2003
Matt's Movie Reviews

It's not easy to watch. But you'll be a better person for having done so.

May 9, 2003 Full Review
Tooele Transcript-Bulletin (Utah)

Audience Reviews for The Pianist

A fine film; worth watching.
December 30, 2013

Super Reviewer

Hard to watch and heartrending but also masterfully made.
December 24, 2013
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

A beautiful and moving film. Hightened by Polanski's closeness to the subject and Brody's stellar performance. A must see.
January 4, 2013
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Adrien Brody and Thomas Kretschmann give tremendously haunting performances in Roman Polanski's The Pianist. The film does not seek our tears or sympathies, but instead tells the story of Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman just as it is, and that makes it all the more emotionally involving. It's length and use of minimalist music may prove too boring or non-dramatic for some, but the Chopin interspersed throughout gave it more than an actual score could. In conclusion, The Pianist features a haunting central performance by Adrien Brody, and despite it's length and a familiar shell story, this is told differently and is more emotionally involving than other films of this subject matter.
October 23, 2012
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer

    1. Captain Wilm Hosenfeld: I have important and good news for you. There are rumours circulating that resettlement measures are again going to be taken. I want to assure you personally that no such measures will be taken now or in the future. Posters will be going up also to this effect. As proof of our good will, we want you to select a delegate, who will be permitted to go into town once. a day to buy, on each worker's behalf, five kilos of potatoes and one loaf of bread, which you will be allowed to take back into the ghetto. Now, why would we do that if we meant to resettle you? You can do good business on what you don't eat. Isn't that what you Jews are best at? Making 'geld'?
    – Submitted by Jean R (12 months ago)
    1. Wladyslaw Szpilman: What are you reading?
    2. Henryk: If you prick us, do we not bleed? It you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
    3. Wladyslaw Szpilman: [seeing that it is Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice'] Very appropriate.
    – Submitted by John Raymond J (14 months ago)
    1. Wladyslaw Szpilman: I don't know how to thank you.
    2. Captain Wilm Hosenfeld: Thank God, not me. He wants us to survive. Well, that's what we have to believe.
    – Submitted by Typhon Q (19 months ago)
    1. Wladyslaw Szpilman: Halina
    2. Halina: What?
    3. Wladyslaw Szpilman: It's a funny time to say this..
    4. Halina: What?
    5. Wladyslaw Szpilman: I wish I knew you better
    6. Halina: Thank you.
    – Submitted by Alenor L (23 months ago)
    1. The father: One caramel for 20 zloytas? Fine, we will split it.
    – Submitted by Teja A (2 years ago)
    1. Wladyslaw Szpilman: [taking off his watch] Here, sell this. Food is more important than time.
    – Submitted by Prabhat R (2 years ago)
View all quotes (8)

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Pianist (DE)
  • Le Pianiste (FR)
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