The Pianist (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Pianist (2002)



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

Movie Info

An adaptation based on the autobiography of the acclaimed Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who detailed his survival during World War II, and narrowly escaped a roundup that sent his family to a death camp. A composer and pianist, Szpilman played the last live music heard over Polish radio airwaves before Nazi artillery hit. There, in Poland, Szpilman struggled to stay alive--even when cast away from those he loved. He spent the duration of the war hiding in the ruins of Warsaw and scavenging for food and shelter. Szpilman eventually reclaimed his artistic gifts, and confronted his fears--with aid from the unlikeliest of sources.more
Rating: R (for violence and brief strong language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Ronald Harwood, Wladyslaw Szpilman
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 27, 2003
Box Office: $32.5M
Focus Features - Official Site


Adrien Brody
as Wladyslaw Szpilman
Emilia Fox
as Dorota
Thomas Kretschmann
as Capt. Wilm Hosenfeld
Maureen Lipman
as The mother
Frank Finlay
as The father
Ruth Platt
as Janina
Wanja Mues
as SS Officer who Slaps...
Nomi Sharron
as Woman with the Feath...
Anthony Milner
as Man Waiting to Cross
Lucie Skeaping
as Street Musician
Roddy Skeaping
as Street Musician
Ben Harlan
as Street Musician
Thomas Lawinky
as Schutzpolizei
Joachim Paul Assböck
as Schutzpolizei
Roy Smiles
as Itzak Heller
Darian Wawer
as Child at the Wall
Zbigniew Zamachowski
as Client with Change
Lejb Fogelman
as Client with Change
as Rubenstein
Zofia Czerwinska
as Woman with Soup
Emilio Fernandez
as the Soup Snatcher
Uwe Rathsam
as SS Officer Addressed...
Joanna Brodzik
as Woman Addressing SS ...
Maja Ostaszewska
as Woman with Child
John Bennett
as Dr. Ehrlich
Cyril Shaps
as Mr. Grun
Wojciech Smolarz
as Boy with Sweets
Lech Mackiewicz
as Fellow Worker
Frank-Michael Köbe
as SS Officer who Shoot...
Peter Rappengluck
as SS Officer Making Sp...
Ronan Vibert
as Janina's Husband
Katarzyna Figura
as the Neighbor
Valentine Pelka
as Dorota's Husband
Tom Strauss
as Dr. Luczak
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Pianist

Critic Reviews for The Pianist

All Critics (187) | Top Critics (39)

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.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
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.

Full Review… | May 26, 2009

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

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

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

Full Review… | February 1, 2009

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

Full Review… | July 4, 2007

Audience Reviews for The Pianist

There are very few films of the Holocaust that aren't huge in scope, and often cover the tragedies of that time. "The Pianist" isn't as bloody or deathly as "Schindler's List" but it definitely shows that survivors came out of it due to pure luck, and that life is very fragile. Adrien Brody as the pianist, Szpilman, lives in the Warsaw Ghetto and after his family is taken to concentration camps, he must survive on luck and his own willpower. He works manual labor and hides at every opportunity. The film is very tense, because his fate is often uncertain, and his allies are often thwarted for their immeasurable help in hiding him. Brody gives an impeccable and heart wrenching performance, starting out with his family and trying to remain light about the situation, but eventually he becomes frail and hollow inside. The film is a shocking depiction of the war, as it should be, and comes from the uncommon perspective of a direct survivor. Haunting and absolutely horrifying, "The Pianist" broaches its subject with thoughtfulness and care.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


A fine film; worth watching.

Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

Hard to watch and heartrending but also masterfully made.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

The Pianist Quotes

Wladyslaw Szpilman: What are you reading?
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?
Wladyslaw Szpilman: [seeing that it is Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice'] Very appropriate.
– Submitted by John Raymond J (3 years ago)
Wladyslaw Szpilman: I don't know how to thank you.
Captain Wilm Hosenfeld: Thank God, not me. He wants us to survive. Well, that's what we have to believe.
– Submitted by Typhon Q (3 years ago)
Wladyslaw Szpilman: Halina
Halina: What?
Wladyslaw Szpilman: It's a funny time to say this..
Halina: What?
Wladyslaw Szpilman: I wish I knew you better
Halina: Thank you.
– Submitted by Alenor L (4 years ago)
The father: One caramel for 20 zloytas? Fine, we will split it.
– Submitted by Teja A (4 years ago)

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