The Pianist (2002)



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

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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.
R (for violence and brief strong language)
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Adrien Brody
as Wladyslaw Szpilman
Emilia Fox
as Dorota
Thomas Kretschmann
as Capt. Wilm Hosenfeld
Ed Stoppard
as Henryk
Maureen Lipman
as The mother
Frank Finlay
as The father
Julia Rayner
as Regina
Ruth Platt
as Janina
Wanja Mues
as SS Officer who Slaps the Father
Richard Ridings
as Mr. Lipa
Nomi Sharron
as Woman with the Feather
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
Paul Bradley
as Yehuda
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
Udo Kroschwald
as Schultz
Uwe Rathsam
as SS Officer Addressed by Woman
Joanna Brodzik
as Woman Addressing SS officer
Katarzyna Bargielowska
as Wailing Woman
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 Shoots Benek
Torsten Flach
as Zig Zag
Peter Rappengluck
as SS Officer Making Speech
Ronan Vibert
as Janina's Husband
Katarzyna Figura
as the Neighbor
Valentine Pelka
as Dorota's Husband
Tom Strauss
as Dr. Luczak
Cezary Kosinski
as Lednicki
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Critic Reviews for The Pianist

All Critics (178) | Top Critics (38)

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 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

January 16, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

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

January 16, 2003
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top 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

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

Full Review… | January 13, 2003
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

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

January 10, 2003
Miami Herald
Top Critic

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.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


A fine film; worth watching.

Wildaly M
Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

Hard to watch and heartrending but also masterfully made.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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