The Pianist | EW.com

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The PianistHere's a Holocaust survival story that hinges less on heroics than on luck and coincidence: Polish radio star Wladyslaw Szpilman, an acclaimed musician,...The PianistDramaPT148MRHere's a Holocaust survival story that hinges less on heroics than on luck and coincidence: Polish radio star Wladyslaw Szpilman, an acclaimed musician,...2003-05-30Frank FinlayThomas KretschmannMaureen LipmanEd StoppardFrank Finlay, Thomas Kretschmann, Maureen Lipman, Ed StoppardFocus Features
Adrien Brody, The Pianist, ...
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The Pianist

Genre: Drama; Starring: Adrien Brody, Frank Finlay, Thomas Kretschmann, Maureen Lipman, Ed Stoppard; Director: Roman Polanski; Author: Ronald Harwood; Runtime (in minutes): 148; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Focus Features

Here’s a Holocaust survival story that hinges less on heroics than on luck and coincidence: Polish radio star Wladyslaw Szpilman, an acclaimed musician, was plucked from a death-camp train by an acquaintance, hidden by members of the Polish resistance, and spared by a music-loving German officer, and thus outlasted the horrors of Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Far from diluting The Pianist’s power, the sheer arbitrariness of Szpilman’s deliverance provides a chillingly clear-eyed, if ultimately hopeful, vision of how tenuous survival can be. That the film is based on Szpilman’s memoir and was directed by Roman Polanski, himself a survivor of the Kraków ghetto, gives it an unquestionable authenticity as it particularizes a monstrous historical event.

As Szpilman, Academy Award winner Adrien Brody has the grace to convey without sentimentality or self-pity the utter pathos of a man of culture reduced to a wild-eyed scarecrow. And while his – and, presumably, Polanski’s – diffidence may at times mute the film’s emotions, its unflinching view of this one unlikely triumph is a moving reminder of just how rare it was.

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