The Pianist - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Pianist Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 22, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2007
A fine film; worth watching.
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2007
Hard to watch and heartrending but also masterfully made.
Super Reviewer
½ March 29, 2012
A beautiful and moving film. Hightened by Polanski's closeness to the subject and Brody's stellar performance. A must see.
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2007
Roman Polanski directs the harrowing story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish pianist and Jew who survived the horrors of the holocaust in WWII. Adrian Brody' performance is the centrepiece as it is a very personal journey as you watch with despair and revulsion as Polish jews are stripped of their livelihoods, their rights and their dignity by a brutally oppressive regime. It's unusual in that rather telling the story of a man involved in a war, it's more of a spectator's point of view; in fact the later scenes in which Brody is entirely alone, disheveled and scavenging for food in a decimated wasteland feel a little sterile. The absence of human interaction means it lacks the emotional impact of something like Schindler's List, but it is a shocking and horrifying tale, made all the more so when you consider that Szpilman was actually one of the "lucky" ones.
Super Reviewer
½ January 5, 2009
I am awestruck and inspired. 3 well deserved Academy Awards (Best Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay).
Super Reviewer
½ December 30, 2010
"The Pianist" is shockingly raw and depressing vision of the Holocaust that is portrayed through the eyes of Roman Polanski. I don't feel right to pick at a movie about such a sensitive issue but there seems to be one gaping problem: emotional attachment with the main characters. Brutal attacks and killings are made to so many Jewish characters on screen that it begins to become numbing. The first death that occurs thrusts audiences out of their comfort zone and into the Holocaust time period, but it happens over and over and over. It is difficult to pinpoint the climax of the movie. Although this is a story about a real survivalist, there didn't seem to be any true development or growth that occurred throughout the atrocities. Not to say that if the real person never truly did, that it has still gotta be in the movie... but then what would this movie be? A movie that portrays the cold deaths of the Holocaust? This is one gaping flaw that prevented this movie from being a masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2006
Roman Polanski's Oscar winning drama is probably the strongest film about the persecution of the Jews during World War Two, and leaves even more of an impression than Spielberg's Schindler's List. The story follows the family of pianist Szpilman's family as the Nazi occupy Warsaw and the resulting, horrible events in the Polish ghettos up to the trains going to the concentration camps. Thanks to the kindness of strangers and pure luck Szpielman survives in the ghetto and is later hidden in what feels like eternal situations of solitude throughout the city. The film is brutal and doesn't leave out the ugly sides, but never abandons hope. Szpilman is a survivor who does what it takes to make it through somehow. That makes for a gloomy, sad, but also enthralling film carried by Adrien Brody's outstanding performance. The final straw to his survival is so surprising and heart-warming that it feels like a ray of light between all the madness and murder you've witnesses for two hours. A moving, unforgettable testimonial of the darkest chapter of the 20th century.
Super Reviewer
January 24, 2012
The Pianist is a terrific film. The film is one of the better films starring Adrien Brody. Director Roman Polanski directs a terrific film about a Jewish pianist who tries to survive the Holocaust by playing the piano. I think that this Adrian Brody's best film, and he gives a strong performance. This is a powerful story about survival, and how one man used his gift to survive one of the greatest crimes ever committed. The Pianist is a stunning film, that I thought was among the best Holocaust films. Schindler's List is a better film, but The Pianist is among the best of the genre. Like I previously stated, this is Adrien Brody's best film, and he truly delivers a great performance. This is a solid film that is powerful to watch, and though it's depressing, it shows the will of survival of people face with incredible odds. This is a wonderful film that is entertaining and has everything you'd expect from a solid drama film. Roman Polanski crafts a unique film that is both equally sad and hopeful. The Pianist is a must see film with a great cast, and Polanski's directing is top-notch and that's what makes The Pianist such a memorable film to watch. Aside from Schindler's List and the Boy with the Striped Pajamas, The Pianist is one of the best film set during the Holocaust. A truly good film that will definitely appeal to viewers that are interested in the subject.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
January 9, 2012
A slow masterpiece that doesn't need guns or wild sex to grab the audiences' attention. Its one of polanski's best and the one epic that redeemed his career after a streak of mediocre films.
Super Reviewer
March 23, 2011
The Pianist is the second greatest holocaust film ever, and is a masterpiece. Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrian Brody) is a Jewish Pianist at the beginning oh the Holocaust, and as he continues on, he struggles to survive, find shelter, and make it through the horrors he must witness and the losses he must face. The storyline is an incredible one, we follow one man through his long journey of World War 2 and as he tries to hide from German forces, and the horrors within this film is as disturbing as Shindlers List. Adrien Brody deserved the Oscar, he had the personality that made him perfect for this role, and this takes us through his entire loneliness as a Holocaust survivor, and he basically takes us on this scary and horrible journey with him. The plot was genius, they seemed to grab every piece of informartion about the holocaust survivor and the horrors they had to see and do and put it in this movie, so that we can pity and feel their pain. The Pianist is a genius work of art, and future generations will enjoy this beautiful take on the horrible holocaust.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2011
The Pianist is a true account of Polish-Jewish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman, survivor of the World War II German occupation in Poland. Baring the painful scars, haunting memories, and lasting grief of World War II with its brilliant visual and narrative style, The Pianist is bound to make a personal emotional engagement with history. Outstanding.
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2009
Music was his passion. Survival was his masterpiece.

What a superb film! Adrien Brody in arguably his best role ever as an actor and proudly so he did win Best Actor Award in the 2002 Oscar's. The story is quite amazing and unique which made it all together a excellent film. The Pianist is bound to garner comparisons to Schindler's List, for obvious reasons. However similar the subject matter, the approach is different. While Schindler's List was filmed in a beautiful, crisp black and white that offered many incredible images, The Pianist was filmed with almost muted color. Schindler's List featured what has been argued as a complicated hero. Oskar Schindler did save many Jews, but not without battling his own materialistic demons first. The Pianist's Szpilman is a sympathetic character throughout. His plight was desperate, and the demons he fought were over his own guilt in surviving a fight that eventually turns into a primal will to live.

The true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman who, in the 1930s, was known as the most accomplished piano player in all of Poland, if not Europe. At the outbreak of the Second World War, however, Szpilman becomes subject to the anti-Jewish laws imposed by the conquering Germans. By the start of the 1940s, Szpilman has seen his world go from piano concert halls to the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw and then must suffer the tragedy of his family deported to a German concentration camps, while Szpilman is conscripted into a forced German Labor Compound. At last deciding to escape, Szpilman goes into hiding as a Jewish refugee where he is witness to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (April 19, 1943 - May 16, 1943) and the Warsaw Uprising (1 August to 2 October 1944)
Super Reviewer
½ July 16, 2011
This was a film that was just waiting to happen. Now, reading this, you are probably wondering what I meant by that. Well, let me tell you a little about this director of this film. Roman Polanski is easily one of the most unique directors in the world. Not by the fact that he can not film films here due to numerous accounts of rape against a thirteen year ld girl, but because he is, in real life, a Holocaust survivor. For years, he has been against making any films that deal with that subject matter of his life due to the events still to this day are raw in his mind. But, along comes this one film that deals with The Holocaust and, in a way, is Polanskiā(TM)s greatest piece f work, along with him coming to some terms with his dark past; him living in a concentration camp. When if I first saw this film, I will admit that I had no knowledge of this film other then it winning the Palm dā(TM)Ore at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Academy awards for best actor, best director, and best adapted screen play, along with the back story of Polanski. What I got out of viewing this film was something of an emotional roller coaster as we see one of the most serious films about World War II that have been made. Now, in terms of direction, Polanski gives it his all as he conducts this movie. There is this subtle tone of dread and seriousness as we are taken on this journey through the eyes of Wladyslaw Szpilman and the hell he goes through. But, the scenes that make this movie work for the best are the subtle scenes that have Szpilman playing a piano. Just, something about all of this terror going on, and the victim just making music, it adds a certain calm to this film that is filled with dread from beginning to end. Next the acting. For this entire film, Adrien Brody gives the performance of his life playing this character. I know that all that can be said has been said, but when you look at it, he just gives one hell of a performance that makes him worthy of his Academy Award he won. The rest of the supporting cast does a great job with this film, but in the end, only one person matters. Next is the script. For this type of film, I will say that the script does a good job at being serious. But, the only problem would be the pacing in some scenes. I do not know, just that some of the scenes seemed kind of slow to me. So, for the most part, it was good. But could have been tighten. Overall, worth of the award it had gotten. Lastly the score. While I enjoy piano orchestrations, I would have liked it if they would have created some more memorable pieces here and there, but for the most part, like the script, it was good. Overall, this is an emotional power house film that is not without a few flaws. Otherwise, a great film.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2011
Moving and poignant. Exceptional cast and acting.
Super Reviewer
½ April 5, 2011
An absolutely heart-breaking and riveting story of a man's survival against all odds. Roman Polanski's masterpiece and a career-defining piece for Adrien Brody, The Pianist above all else went very far to re-kindle the emotions I have attached to my family's oppression - who were also persecuted into labor camps in Siberia the 1950's.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2011
four stars
Super Reviewer
½ April 12, 2011
Grade: A+ (97%)

Roman Polanski's The Pianist is a true story based on the Holocaust. Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody in his Oscar winning role) is a pianist and also a Jew in Poland. When Germany invades Poland his life, along with his families, go through disastrous times. You watch as they are pushed into Jew districts, ghettos and finally concentration camps. But a Jewish police officer, and a good friend, saves Wladyslaw from entering the trains to the camps and has no choice but to leave his family behind.

What The Pianist does, that other Holocaust and other genocide films don't, is not rely on blood and violence to keep its audience awake. While you see acts of genocide occur (i.e. running over Jewish wounded on the street), the film is strictly from Wladyslaw Szpilman's view. You watch as he moves from apartment to apartment, hiding upon the men and women who will recognize him as a Jew, and survive upon the good comings of citizens that give him food and water. In some scenes of the film, you will see Szpilman playing the piano without hitting the keys. He uses his imagination to play the piano that soothes his mind from all the horrors he has been through.

What The Pianist does so well is actually show Jews fighting back against the Germans. You will see guns being thrown over the brick wall that separates the ghettos from the town and later mini attacks occur. It actually gives the movie some hope. It shows that the Jews will fight back and won't die without a fight.

Adrien Brody gives a strong performance in this film. He truly fits the part. He wasn't a hot actor but more of an actor trying to show his talents to the world and he succeeded. The movie needed a performance that would keep the audience into the film and Mr. Brody did it and, as I said before, won an Academy Award for this role.

Roman Polanski, in his Oscar winning direction, shows a different side to the Holocaust history that is both refreshing and dramatic. The film doesn't have to rely on intense violence and truly succeeds. The Pianist is a fantastic film and well worthy of a Best Picture nomination.

The Pianist won 3 Academy Awards including: Best Director, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2011
The Pianist is essentially the greatest movie that takes place during the Holocaust, not that it has become a full fledged genre. Roman Polanski's approach to the subject matter is a lot more subtle and artistic than say Steven Spielberg's with Schindler's List. This attempts to really capture the human aspect rather than the big picture. Closing in on one individual is an incredibly smart move, making the terror all too real. Part of this realism definitely goes to Adrien Brody, who completely dominates the role and really makes you empathize with his character. However, he never plays that "I'm a poor, weak, underweight Jewish pianist" card. That makes all the difference. This isn't a movie to gather sympathy for the Holocaust, it was to tell one man's story of survival. Roman Polanski's trademark style is here; this is one beautifully shot movie.
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