The Pianist, wow, simply, wow: *SPOILERS*

What can I say, other than I am in awe at what I just finished watching, The Pianist. I know it’s being hailed as a great film, as seen by it’s nomination for Best Picture, but I had no idea it was as good as it was. Before this, my pick was Chicago, but now, I’m not so sure. This film simply blew me away, in just about every way. The look, the feel, the tone, it just “felt” pefect, and whatnot. Everyone in the film looked, and acted, their parts seemingly flawlessly from where I sit. While there aren’t any truly classic performances in this one, everyone was great. Now when you think about it, isn’t it best for everyone on the cast to have a solid performance, rather than a single person to have an Award Winning performance? I’d have to say so, but that’s just me. That being said, I must also say that Adrien Brody was fantastic, and is the emotional and dramatic backbone in this film, he was fantasic, playing the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman.

I know some feel the last half, or so, of the film is borring and repetitive, but in my eyes, it was paced perfectly. I felt as if I could, as best I could by simply watching a film, actually know what Wladyslaw Szpilman went through, and his struggle for survival. When it all comes down to it, when it’s all on the line and it’s a matter of life and death, one MUST do what is need to survive, to move on, and to simply live. I felt such a connection with this character, and his trials of trying to stay in hiding, and to simply have just a drop or a simply bite of food to eat. It was human life stirpped to the bone, naked, and bare, and I loved every second of this visual and emotional experiance.

This is just the basic second half of the film, the first half put forth even more emotions. I felt a true bond between him and his family, and when they were seperated, I truly felt heart broken for all of them. Then of course we have the scene’s where all of the horrible things happen, like the German’s killing innocent people for seemingly no reason. While it’s been presented in film before, this is one of the most emotional in this sense I’ve ever seen.

How great was the scene where they make a series of men lie on the ground, and a German soldier walks by firing off a single shot into each of their heads, untill he gets to the last guy. His clip is empty, and he has to put a new one in. The way the man on the ground looked up at him, I could actually feel, the best I could, his fear for his life which he KNEW was about to end. While that scene is so subtle, it was so powerful for me, in more ways than one.

Then the scene where the German soldier finds him hiding out, I didn’t know what was going to happen at that time, it was great. Even though they didn’t have too many encounters, I felt such a strong connection between those two characters also. When he began to help him, bringing him food and giving him his coat, it was just something else to me.

Even the lines in the film seemed to be just in the right place. You can almost pick out certain lines here and there which trigger a change in mood and whatnot. One that instantly comes to mind, is right near the end. Wladyslaw Szpilman has been hiding in the attic, and he finally hears the Russians coming in. He is so excited that he runs out with open arms, and the Russians take aim and fire thinking he’s a German because of the coat he has on. He runs back in the building, and they tell him to come out saying that he’s not German, and he is in face Pollish. I love this line, as it was like, just a release for the film, Wladyslaw Szpilman, and me…

“Why the fucking coat!?” — Russian

shivering “I’m cold.” — Wladyslaw Szpilman

…maybe it’s just me, but I just sighed after that, while also actually laughing. That’s one emotion you didn’t really feel throughout this film, and when you finally really had an excuse to, it was symbolic and meant something, I loved that. Anyhow…

…I’ll shut up now, I just wanted to express a few of my thoughts on this film, and I think I’ll just come out and say it, in my personal opinion of course…

…The Pianist, 2003 Best Picture.

I saw this movie about two weeks ago and have been thinking about it constantly ever since. I wasn’t sure what I thought of it immediately after I saw it, but recently I have come to decide that I didn’t like it.

The story of Szpilman is tragic and heroic at the same time. But it simply doesn’t make a good movie. In nearly every scene, you can tell that this is a movie based on a book. (And perhaps I’m biased, as I had read the book before seeing the movie.) Despite the horrors of what was happening all the time, I felt little to nothing for any of the characters. I found Brody’s portrayal of Szpilman to be distant and emotionless. Polanski never seems to realize that he’s supposed to be making a film instead of visualizing a book, and his scenes are painfully repetitive and uninteresting. During the time between the German occupation and when Szpilman’s family is shipped to Treblinka (or was it Auschwitz?) the same story is told as nauseum. The hiding of the money in the violin. The ghetto getting smaller and smaller. The selling of posessions. Obtaining the work ceritificates. Buying the single piece of candy. They are all permeated by desperation, but do nothing to reveal anything about the characters in Szpilman’s family that we don’t already know in the beginning. This type of minutia is fascinating when it’s written well, but simply does not translate to the screen.

This is a movie about everything that doesn’t happen to a guy. Unfortunately, it’s pretty impossible to make a movie convey that sort of thing well. You can’t translate Spzilman’s thoughts and inner turmoil to pictures, and Polanski’s attempts to do so via dialogue are stinted, simplistic and painfully drawn out and repetitive.

In short, I was dissapointed. But I was more dissapointed considering the subject matter of the film; stories about the Holocaust deserve to be told for what they are, and as a society we have a responsibility and duty to tell them. But Polanski, I think, thought he would have betrayed the story if he had applied the filmmaking tools available to him to make something other than a book on screen. While I can appreciate that attitude, I think the result is somewhat of a failure for its medium.

I LOVE how two people can view the same film, listen to the same song, or do the same thing, and come away from it with a TOTAL different opinion and experiance. I know it’s basic, but I find that so amazing. Thanks for your thoughts, that’s what I posted this for.

Anyone else?

I loved the film, and I thought the acting was superb. I also appreciated the fact that Polanski did not go the easy route and use emotional manipulations. I took a batch of Kleenex with me, expecting to use them throughout. I did not cry once An older man sitting in front of me said to his son, “I saw a street exactly like that in Hamburg” when there was that amazing shot of building after building, bombed to rubble. I thought Brody did a very good job of showing us how a man can be broken down piece by piece, yet still survive the horrors of war.

At the end, when the pianist is playing in a symphony hall, everyone in the theater who stayed (man, there were a lot of credits!) stood up and clapped when he finished the piece.

I don’t think it can win over Chicago for best picture. But I think that Roman Polanski has a chance of being voted best director. It was an incredibly movie, obviously a labor of love for Polanski. I believe his mother died in the camps, if I am not mistaken.

Amen, I share your thoughts, obviously. I know it more than likely will not win Best Picture, but I would like to see it happen. I DO feel it has a very good shot at having Roman Polanski winning Best Director, that would be great as well.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I am annoyed by one little thing…

Everyone (even NPR) is calling it the “pee - ane - ist” (please excuse my terrible pronunciation key). The word is “pee-a-nist.” I know it sounds like penis and it makes people giggle, but come on! Pianists have not put up with being mocked for years for nothing! Who’s with me?

Webster’s says that both PEE-uh-nist and pee-ANN-ist are acceptable pronounciations. So nyah. :slight_smile:

According to Roger Eberts review:

"Polanski, in talking about his own experiences, has said that the death of his mother in the gas chambers remains so hurtful that only his own death will bring closure. "

and

“Polanski himself is a Holocaust survivor, saved at one point when his father pushed him through the barbed wire of a camp. He wandered Krakow and Warsaw, a frightened child, cared for by the kindness of strangers. His own survival (and that of his father) are in a sense as random as Szpilman’s, which is perhaps why he was attracted to this story. Steven Spielberg tried to enlist him to direct “Schindler’s List,” but he refused, perhaps because Schindler’s story involved a man who deliberately set out to frustrate the Holocaust, while from personal experience Polanski knew that fate and chance played an inexplicable role in most survivals.”

I agree 100% with Brent and disagree 100% with friedo. I’ve seen the movie twice now and the second viewing confirmed what I knew to be true upon the first viewing. The Pianist is the best film of 2002, one of the best films of the last decade, and certainly one of the best films about World War II (not just the Holocaust).

I didn’t read the book (though I’m sure I will now) and the negative opinion of someone who has read the book means nothing to me. People should judge it on its own terms (just as they should, but don’t always, judge movies such as Chicago or The Lord of the Rings). If you haven’t read the book, I think you should completely disregard friedo’s opinion, and base whether or not you want to see it by the rave critical reviews it’s gotten.

I didn’t think it was cold or unemotional at all. I didn’t cry the first time I saw the movie, though I was shocked to the core at several events. I cried a lot during my second viewing, because I knew what would happen, I wasn’t constantly in a state of “oh my god, what’s going to happen next?” and because I knew the character better, I was able to feel with and for him.

Polanski and Brody don’t take the easy way and manipulate your feelings. Things happen, and it’s up to you to decide how to feel about those happenings. The script doesn’t tell you how you should feel. The actors don’t. The music doesn’t. You have to work a little bit harder with this one.

Brody’s portrayal of Wladyslaw Szpilman is anything but distant and emotionless. What of the scene when he has just been torn from his family and is staggering down a burning, deserted street, sobbing uncontrollably? Before that, he’s too stunned at the events unfolding to show emotion. He’s in denial, I think, as is everybody in his family except his brother. Everything will be alright shortly, won’t it? This is all temporary, isn’t it? After the point that his family is put in the boxcars, he’s in shock, and spends the rest of the movie too busy surviving to even think about emotions. After that point, everything Szpilman is feeling comes through loud and clear (to me) via his very expressive eyes and his hands. Oh those hands. The emotion expressed when he has to “play” the piano in the air, because to touch the piano itself would mean his death, is far more affecting than any kind voice-over narration (overt manipulation) would have been.

In this movie you have to follow the character, and accept him for who he is and how he acts, and not impose any idea of how he “should” act on him.

I’m sure the book is better. Books are almost ALWAYS better. This movie though, is not a failure in any way.

I think that Brody and Polanski have no chance at winning. I think Chicago and Scorcese have their wins already. I don’t mind. Since I think all the nominees this year are strong and worthy, I wouldn’t be disappointed at any loss. Just the fact that it was nominated for 7 Oscars is a great, great tribute. It could have been left off the list altogether, so I’m happy for Polanski and Brody.

The nominations have boosted the profile of this film tremendously, and a lot of people have seen it, and will see it, specifically because of the nominations, so good. Very good. Even if it doesn’t win anything, the Academy members will have done a very good thing.

I forgot to check the E-mail notification box. So I’m doing it now.

aaaaaah, nuts. Thanks for the update, Friedo

I saw it last night. Beautiful film, but it hardly touched me emotionally. The only scenes that I responded to were the “air piano” scene and the one near the end where he actually gets to play–frozen fingers and all–for the first time in years. Schindler’s List was better.

PS I thought Chicago was just OK. I hope it doesn’t get best picture.