The Success of the Pianist, an Autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman

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The pianist has one over 20 awards since its release. Most notably it has won the Palme d’Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. The 75th Academy Awards, The Pianist won Oscars for Best Director (Roman Polanski), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ronald Harwood), and Best Actor (Adrien Brody)It also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film and BAFTA Award for Best Direction in 2003, and seven French Césars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Brody. The film even manages to win awards on a smaller scale 15 years after its initial release.

Roman Polanski’s ‘The Pianist,’ tells the story of a classical musician, who survived the Holocaust. Directed as a drama and based upon the autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman with aspects of the film influenced by Polanski’s past, as he was just a boy growing up in Poland watching while the Nazis devastated his country during World War II. The pianist begins in Warsaw Poland in 1939 as world war 2 was simultaneously initiating. With the introduction to the movie’s protagonist, Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a gifted Jewish classical pianist who works for his local radio station. Szpilman originates from a family of wealth who was opposed from fleeing their native Warsaw to seek refuge after hearing the allied forces had declared war on the Germans.

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The family’s thoughts of the allied countries coming to Poland’s aid proved to be stronger than their fear of the German invasion, but of course, their thoughts varied from events that were to take place. As time passes, conditions for Jews in Warsaw quickly deteriorate as the family faces the genocide of their religion due to the German presence in Poland. The family is soon forced to move to the Nazi-established Jewish ghetto where Wladyslaw continues to pursue his passion of being a pianist by taking a job at playing the piano at a restaurant in the Jewish ghetto. As the war continues, the Szpilman family is selected for deportation to a concentration camp. As the family boarded the train, Wladyslaw is pulled away from the line from one of his friends who worked as a police officer. Although his family was never to be seen of again, Wladyslaw continues his life of living in the Jewish ghetto with the rest of the Jews the Nazis kept alive for slave labour. He spends the next few years as part of a Jewish uprising as well as in hiding, avoiding his capture by German troops. An image that was painted to the audience during the movie is that of the non-Jewish Poles. It was shown in the film that the quality of their life was significantly better than the life of the Jews. Although this is somewhat accurate, it was exaggerated in the film, the non- Jewish Poles were given a few freedoms, but again their country was war-torn and had the presence of an opposing force taking it over.

This portrayal of the poles living almost stress- free lives were very misleading as even they lived in constant terror. The Nazi army practiced something called “Lapanki” where they would gather random people and would either ship them to concentration camps or publicly execute them. Whole villages were brought together and were burned alive. Throughout the war, about 4.5 million polish Jews were murdered whereas 3.5 million non-Jewish Poles were murdered. In the film, the non-Jewish Poles were also seen treating the jews harshly which doesn’t seem very historically accurate either as the poles often came to the rescue of the Jews and even helped hide them from the Nazi troops in many cases. The penalty for helping a Jew during this time was death, despite this fact over 100,000 poles came to the aid of jews. Though Roman Polanski grew up in this era and witnessed all of this first hand, the reason behind these historical inaccuracies and exaggerations could possibly for dramatic effect. To help the viewer to empathize with Wladyslaw and the rest of the Jewish community and understand their feelings.

Regardless of 2 minor interpretational issues, in my opinion, this movie was an amazing representation of Wladyslaw’s autobiography as well as an amazing interpretation of the characters, their emotions and their relationships. Even though the movie is a drama and not a thriller, I was always intrigued by what was to happen next based off of any foreshadowing. I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie to anyone is interested in history and especially the history of world war 2. The movie offered a very unique perspective of the war and how it affected the life of a very passionate, dedicated individual. The movie triggered many emotions and was very easy for one to become involved within it while forming a bond with the characters. The directors and actors worked diligently to provide a lifelike experience for the viewer and did not disappoint.

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