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The Pianist (DVD)

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Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 2002 / Director: Roman Polanski / Actors: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann ... / DVD released 05 February, 2007 at Optimum Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    38 Reviews
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      19.05.2010 21:44
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      A film everyone should see at least once.

      Flicking accross channels last night I came accross this film last night. Released in 2002, it never really took my fancy despite all the plaudits and the fact it won three Academy Awards. But for whatever reason, I stuck with it.

      Based upon the autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman, it tells his story of how he survived the war. I'm not really giving away too much in saying he survives because he wrote the autobiography, however at 150 mins long and showing in detail the suffering of 6 years, you are left wondering just how he survived.

      In September 1939, Szpilman is a noted pianist with a job at Warsaw Radio. He is also a Polish Jew. The German invade and perhaps one of the most heartbreaking moments is when he returns to his home after the bombing of the Radio station. He learns from his family that the UK and France have declared war on Germany, they rejoice believing that war will soon be over. And so begins 6 years of hell. The place he lives in is turned into a Ghetto, he becomes seperated from his family and is forced to live off his wits as those around him try to resist the Nazi occupiers. As his situation deteriorates he finds help in the most unlikely of places.

      The closing segments of this film in which Szpilman is alone, are some of the most beautifully filmed scenes on screen. Bearing in mind the horror of what is happening makes it all the more devastating. There is no dialogue and nothing to detract from the performance that Adrien Brody gives, one certainly worthy of the Oscar he won. And as for the film itself, there can be no doubt that it should be seen not as something for the purpose of entertainmaent, but as a valuable reminder and an education for all of us as to what happened.

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        19.05.2010 00:24
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        Here, sell this watch. Food is more important than time.

        This is a wonderful film that won plaudits, oscars and awards at the Cannes film festival in 2002 upon its release, it is an honest, thoughtful and powerful recreation of the Warsaw Ghetto during the holocaust based on the memoirs of a survivor.

        As anyone who has read the girl in the Red Coat will know, Roman Polanski had a very real experience of the Holocaust in Warsaw during the second World war and this film is a chance for him to recreate and share his own view of this awful time from the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody).

        Szpilman and his family (Mainly Brit Actors), are a happy well off Jewish family in Warsaw who are enjoying life and doing well for themselves when tragedy strikes with the Second World War.

        Szpilman was a popular Concert Pianist in Warsaw prior to the second world war, after the German occupation he went into hiding as his family were gradually removed to death camps, this film follows his struggle to survive and avoid capture in the Warsaw Ghetto.

        Cast:

        * Wladyslaw Szpilman - Adrien Brody
        * Captain Wilm Hosenfeld - Thomas Kretschmann
        * Mr Szpilman - Frank Finlay
        * Mrs Szpilman - Maureen Lipman
        * Dorota - Emilia Fox
        * Henryk Szpilman - Ed Stoppard
        * Regina Szpilman - Julia Rayner
        * Halina Szpilman - Jessica Kate Meyer
        * Janina - Ruth Platt


        Review:

        I found this film very personal and incredibly evocative of the era, I was not as convinced by Adrien Brody's performance as his best actor oscar suggests, as I believe it was partially due to the film subject, however I do feel he put in a very, very good performance and is the mainstay of a powerful and dramatic film.

        The story itself is incredible and tells the tale of human suffering and the power of hope, the cast put in fine performances, but for me Polanski's direction is key in this matter, as he brings the Warsaw Ghetto to life brilliantly, the place looks how you would imagine it, the film is tinged with hope at all times as not every Nazi is purely evil, we see that some have to manage their own true feelings against the need to conform for fear for their own families safety, this is also true of collaborators and people who help Szpilman.

        This is an intelligent film that doesn't paint a picture in black and white, it shows the holocaust and the persecution of Jews in Nazi occupied Germany without flinching, but it does so with fairness and honesty and doesn't compromise at any point.

        This is an uplifting film about a tragic and disgusting period in world history, it is a good film with great direction and doesn't rely on stereotypes or cliché. My favourite scene in the film is close to the end between Szpilman and a Nazi officer and for me this sums up the fact that as much as this period was demonized the persecuted and persecutors were all human beings, this is a sad but true fact the only difference was their beliefs.

        The film is a true story, based on Szpilman's own experiences and it is clear that Polanski uses this material due to the parallels with his own troubled upbringing in the ghetto during this period, there is a real sense of drama, urgency and tragedy to the film and it is beautifully shot, the music is powerful and evocative and the acting is first class, it is a terrible, sad subject and one that none of us should ever forget.

        The DVD is available on Play.com and Amazon for £3.52 and extras include a 40 minute documentary on life in the ghetto which is mostly explained by Polanski.

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          07.03.2010 16:35
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          A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II

          Just a review on the film itself, no extras....

          This is a Roman Polanski classic, and possibly my favourite film to date! The Pianist is a portrayal of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a young Jewish concert pianist living in Warsaw, Poland at the time of the Second world war, under Nazi control! The film is based around the autobiography of the main character himself. It gives you a good insight in to part of the second World war, making this film exciting, if you can choose such a word and a good history lesson.
          Why I like this film is simple, firstly, it's important that history is never forgotten, and also how such atrocities should never be repeated! It gives a stark viewing of the inhumane way the Nazi's treated the Jews, but also on the other hand, how good can be found in times of evil! This film does not hold back, and keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat, a lot of the time with unease of what your watching!

          The story shows you how the Jews got segregated into confined areas, and made to wear the badge of David on there arms, so they could be treated like filth, and recognised for mocking and torment! The Jews are used as slaves, and shot at random for no reasons at all...you often see bodies lying in the streets as they are starved, men and women fighting in the streets, eating food of the dirty streets, as they battle for survival. Through fortune and his good name, Wladyslaw Szpilman manages to escape the horrors of extermination, sadly his family and friends are not so fortunate! A small resistance of Poles fight back against the Germans but are soon overpowered, but you realise at least they died fighting rather than humiliated! Wladyslaw Szpilman enters back into a war torn ghetto which is deserted and destructed with very little food around, starvation becomes a real proposition until he meets a German officer who befriends him, sharing food for performances on the piano!
          Adrian Brody plays the lead role very well indeed, and the supporting cast including Emilia Fox are also exceptional. Roman Polanskis own first hand experience just adds to the effectiveness of the film, a real underrated masterpiece!

          Cast....
          Adrien Brody ... Wladyslaw Szpilman
          Emilia Fox ... Dorota
          Michal Zebrowski ... Jurek
          Ed Stoppard ... Henryk
          Maureen Lipman ... Mother
          Frank Finlay ... Father
          Jessica Kate Meyer ... Halina
          Julia Rayner ... Regina
          Wanja Mues ... SS Slapping Father
          Richard Ridings ... Mr. Lipa
          Nomi Sharron ... Feather Woman
          Anthony Milner ... Man Waiting to Cross
          Lucy Skeaping ... Street Musician (as Lucie Skeaping)
          Roddy Skeaping ... Street Musician
          Ben Harlan ... Street Musician

          Runtime ... 150mins
          Rated..... 15

          Special Features.....A Story of survival Documentary
          Making of, featurette, trailer

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            02.03.2010 01:22
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            superb

            I had heard of this film but was not that familiar with it, until I was lent a copy of it the other day. If you have not seen 'The Pianist' then you are missing out on a filmic treat. Carried literally by star Adrien Brody, the film follows his character, Wladyslaw Szpilman, a talented and humble Polish pianist. Szpilman has escaped Nazi capture and is living in the ghetto, the slums, trying to stay alive and make it through the war. But the odds are stacked firmly against him.

            It is a return to form for Polanski and is one of his most accessible films in recent years. His direction is slick, as he merges some truly intense and harrowing scenes with some absolutely magical moments. The scenes slide effortlessly into each other and there is no chance for the viewer to sink into a lull. It grabbed me early on, as there is a lot of attention geared around Wladyslaw Szpilman's family. This allows us to get attached to the characters. A particularly warm performance from the father in the film really lifted the scenes. The family all dote on each other and their bond is believable, which makes it all the more poignant when they get separated mid way through the film.

            The acting is superb, with Brody taking centre stage throughout. His performance is quiet, considered and elegant and he is a pleasure to watch. The scenes where he plays the piano are obviously a highlight and they will leave you tingling.

            The film does contain some rather shocking scenes which will leave a lasting impression with the viewer. Without spoiling too much, watching how the Nazis treat the Jews will make jaws drop. Polanski does not hold back in cutting straight to the brutality. Despite the chaos and the carnage, the film does carry a very positive vibe though and builds to a satisfying conclusion that will delight audiences. Rated a fifteen and coming in at over two hours, it holds the attention, delivers on all levels and gets the thumbs up from me.

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            20.02.2010 23:27
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            A second world war film

            "A Masterpiece" GQ magazine

            This stunning film scooped up 2 Bafta awards, including best film and 3 Oscars.

            Plot........

            The Pianist is an unforgettable film about the determination, courage and survival of a Jewish, Polish pianist during the second world war. He is torn apart from his family and has to survive living often right under the doorstep of The Nazi's. He hides in the broken down capital after escaping Warsaw and suffers near death in his heartbreaking struggle to survive.

            The actor.....

            Adrien Brody plays an outstanding role as he often stands alone in the film representing what was a true story. He plays the part of a very dedicated and passionate pianist and a valued member of his close family. At points in the film his character seems to just keep going each time you expect death and you can't help but be glued to the screen as you watch him suffer and fight.

            Powerful scenes......

            Some of the scenes in the film are not for the faint hearted and the murdering of the Jews is so very brutal and upsetting and always shocking. One particular scene, as represented on the front cover of the DVD is, I would say say the most beautiful scene in the Film. Szpilman (Adrien Brody) takes his seat at the piano after being ordered to by a Nazi soldier who listens to him play. He hasn't played for so long and has not eaten in what must be weeks but his soul is given hope as he sits down and plays an elegant masterpiece, playing it for himself and his life.

            This film has a running time of 144 minutes, which although long, does not become dull and captivates you from beginning to end.

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            18.11.2009 16:18
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            A very good film.

            Based on a true story, the critically acclaimed winner of 3 Oscars and 2 Baftas' The Pianist tells the moving story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a brilliant Jewish Polish pianist, and his escape from deportation at the hands of the Nazis in the 1930s at the cost of being forced to lived in a Warsaw ghetto, and the humiliation and intense suffering he experiences, before his eventual escape. (Not a spoiler.) It was directed by Roman Polanski in 2004, and the DVD was released in 2007.

            There are some truly superb performances in this film and the cinematography and direction are excellent. It is a very moving film and therefore not really a passive watch. It is a 2 and a half hour epic that has a superb score and a great cast.

            The DVD is in widescreen and is of absolutely crisp clear quality which works exceptionally well in conjunction with the grey, decaying and depressing backdrops. This is not a cheery film by any stretch of the imagination and not a particularly uplifting one either. Its not something to watch with beer and a pizza with the lads on a Friday night. It is a very serious and moving drama and a very interesting slant on the delicate subject matter.

            Recommended for fans of Schindlers List, this film has been called "Extraordinary" by GQ, "A Masterpiece" by the daily telegraph.

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              16.11.2009 13:50
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              A great film deserving its plaudits

              The Pianist is a film which ifts one away from the stresses and strains of normal everyday life and makes you look at how a person could survive in the worst situation possible.

              Whats the film about?

              This is a Roman Polanski film (best not mention his recent arrest for having sex with a minor in which he's been on the run from the states for 20 years) about the life of a Warsaw Polish piano player called Wladyslaw Pilzsman played by Adrian Brody. Pilzman is a jew living in Poland when the Germans invade, he's part of the intellentual elite of the city and plays for the radio regularly.

              When Germany finally takes Poland and Warsaw, Spilzmans life turns away from his piano into a fight for survival, he is still a much wanted man within Warsaw because he's a famous pianist but his influence is limited. Splizsmans family are placed in the infamous Warsaw ghetto and here we are exposed to the full horror of the Nazi hatred for the Jews.
              Spilzsman is saved from Treblinka by a Jewish policeman but his family is taken and he walks through the rubble strewn streets with tears rolling down his face.

              The film then becomes a personal voyage for an intelligent articulate man through the horrors of the war, in that he observes some terrible events. This filmhas moments which truly stay with you long after you've watched the film. The film and direction by Polanski is beautifully filmed, its attention to detail is superb and the portayal of Spilzman by Adrian Brody is brilliant.

              Moments in this film which truly last are many but my favourites if thats the right term in a film about the Holocaust are:

              Spilzsman walking through the ghetto after the SS have taken all the Jews to Treblinka, this scene is so perfectly filmed, Brody plays the role as it might be believed tears rolling down his cheeks and the scene ahs no music attached to it.

              The shooting of a group of prisoners after they have been helping the Germans build some of the destroyed buildings. There are about 20 men in the group who have just collected their daily bread but when they are stopped at the checkpoint for re-entry into the ghetto are stopped by a classic blonde haired SS officer who pushes half of them onto the ground and shoots them all in the head. The last one is Spilzmans friend and the SS officer runs out of bullits and for a moment you think his friend will survive but the officer simply refills his gun and shoots him anyway. This scene for me emphasises the terror Poland was suffering, momentary periods of hope before the chance is crushed.

              The scene where he returns to his restaurant where he played for the pre-war clientelle, only to find the place destroyed. This shows the horrors of the destruction meted out to Warsaw after the ghetto uprising in 1943.

              There are moments of hope, not all the Germans are brutes but will help the Jews and eventually he's placed in an apartment outside the ghetto but even here he observes terrible events, the apartment opposite is raided and the old man in the wheelchair is simply thrown out of the third floor window whilst still sat in his chair.

              He's also marooned by a corrupt underground helper who steals the money raised for his upkeep.

              Finally he's totally on his own and the city of Warsaw is totally raised to the ground, this is in some ways the most brutal aspect of the film. We have been living in Spilzmans bubble, only seeing his flat, street, or neighbourhood but after the uprising he escapes the city and the film panes out to shot the whole of the city. Its at this point where one of the earliest shots in the film shows a beautiful, renassissance city with gothic buildings and now everything is burning and no building is free standing.

              The end of the film, shows that not all Germans are thugs, Spilzman finally gets a chance to play the piano for a German officer who finds him in a derelict house. The German also feeds him but has to pull out when the Russians approach, Spilzsman tries to find him after the wat but can't.

              My final most poignant part of the film is when he's stuck on his own in the apartment waiting for the helper who will never come and he finds that the apartment has a piano, he opens the lid but can't play it because any noise will alert the neighbours so he plays the music in his head and allows his hands to float over the keys.

              i've always thought that this kind of film is hard to critique for someone who isn't jewish or who lived through the horrors of Nazi Germany but this film just shows how terrible that regime was and how an educated man could be victimised just down to his religion and nothing else.

              Adrian Brody played the role brilliantly, he's in every scene and has to lead the film and make the viewer believe he truly is Spilzman the famous piano player. The rest of the actors in the film are transient only appearing for a few minutes as they interact with Spilzman for a few days, weeks or months. This film won many awards, Academy awards for Brody and Polanski, the film itself won the Palm D'or and a BAFTA. Brody also won the award for best actor at the Cannes Film festival and is the only American ever to do so.

              Ultimately this film is a memoir from a real piano player called Wladislaw Spilzman who only died in 2000 and wrote about his survival during the war. He played for Radio Poland and with poignancy played the same piece of music which was interrupted when the Germans took the Radio Poland building in 1940. The music was Chopin in C minor.

              A wonderful film about a wonderful man.

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                08.09.2009 19:36
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                A very deep, involving and moving story of one man's struggle to survive the war

                I was hesitant about reviewing this film when I saw it, as I noted early on that it was similar to Schindler's list - in that it is set during the Second World War, shows some of the real horrors suffered, particularly by Jews and is both powerful and emotional. To review a film like this, I know I've got to be sensitive but honest, and given how well known films like these are, I would hate to miss anything particularly important. I'm going to give it a go anyway, and I will talk about the things that really stood out to me personally, whether or not that was the intention and whether or not they were significant to others, as that was my own view as a consumer.

                I don't normally jump into recommending a film because I know people are all different in what they want out of films, but here I felt I had to say this really is a must-see, and hopefully my review explains why I feel this way.

                Story

                The film progresses from 1939 and the very start of the World War and Nazi invasion into Poland. Wladyslaw Szpilman is a well known Pianist, associated with other famous musicians and living a comfortable, rather than luxurious, life with his family. When the Nazis take occupation in Poland, however, bit by bit,their quality of life is diminished. First they are given limits to how much money they may hold, then they are forced to wear the Star of David on their clothes for identification and after this all Jews are forcibly moved into the ghettoes, or "Jewish Districts" as they are called. Finally, the worst happens, and Szpilman is separated from his own family when they are taken off to concentration camps, but he is spared by a Nazi that knows him. Now away from his family, he must find away to avoid the horrible ends that many other Jews around him suffer and struggles just to stay alive long enough to see the end of the War.

                I've heard people talk about this film in the past, but I don't think I knew what to expect at all. I remembered the shock of watching Schindler's List for the first time, and although I still think that film was more hard-hitting, this one certainly had jaw-falling and eye-moistening moments. As much as I hate watching these kinds of films, I fully understand their importance. What happened during World War 2 must never be forgotten, and although films are acted out remakes based on what little information survived, they are probably as close as we will get to understanding. The Pianist does not throw you straight into the deep end, as I felt Schindler's List did, it shows you instead the deterioration over the war years, of life and of people. The film is long, but feels even longer, especially with all the hiding and waiting, by the end it is almost as though you have been watching the film for days. I wouldn't complain about this, because it does make this film that little bit closer to the past, where I imagine the war did feel like it was dragging on forever and people probably wondered whether they were going to make it through. Watching this film and thinking about the war, it feels like you are constantly hanging from this cliffedge, and if you could just hold out a bit longer you might be rescued.

                Acting/Characters

                At first I wasn't sure about the acting, but you forget that at the start of the war, nobody really knew what was coming, except of course the Nazis who planned it. So rather than scared, people were outraged, annoyed even, and trying to work out ways to get around these silly rules or even outright refuse to obey. The interesting thing about this film is that it shows how views changed, more from the point of view of Jews and their non-Jewish friends than the bad guys, and how they came to terms with what was happening to them.

                Adrien Brody plays a very genuine character, both in his acting and appearance. In fact he phsyically loses a lot of weight in the duration of the film to the point where he does almost look ill for real. Obviously some of that will have come from make-up, but to actually lose that much weight shows real commitment. The transformation as shown in his acting is also rather dramatic, yet somehow it takes you by surprise. Brody doesn't just look the part, he really lives it.

                Sadly, as it is at the centre of this movie at Wladyslaw Szpilman is someone struggling to survive when it seems he's lost everything to live for, this does mean that after a certain point he is separated from them, and so their roles are short. They do make an impact, however, during the first part of the film, as we see what a very ordinary family they were, all with different viewpoints of the War and lots of bickering over what to do, like with money that they argue over where to hide it. For much of the time we see the family they haven't quite realised the extent of what is happening to them, and so it was harder to know what to expect.

                Dorota is a lady who knew Brody at the start of the war, and was also a musician, who hates what happens to the jews and tries what she can to support them. She is played by Emilia Fox, and gives us an insight into what it must have been like to be the near-helpless outsider looking in on this terrible situation, and all the things she tries to do to keep Wladyslaw Szpilman safe. She herself is not free from the bad things happening around her, but I think intently she holds back a lot. To be fair, the focus could not be too much on her, but also I guess she is being brave for her friend.

                Film qualities

                The scenes all look very real, from a 1930s Poland to the war-trodden remains of 1945. Whether or not there was much artificial interference, it certainly did not look it, or at least I didn't notice anything. That would probably have annoyed me, given how hard they have worked with keeping everything else as close to real as possible. Therefore I was really pleased with the overall appearance of the film. On the costume side of things, the change was a little more sudden and didn't quite fit so well to me. One minute they are walking around in the best clothes and suddenly they have all been swapped for clothes made from cheap materials. Admittedly some things - like a posh fur coat - might have been confiscated, and quality would deteriorate, but this was done too quickly and actually the clothes just changed completely for most of the other main characters. This doesn't apply so much to Szpilman, at least.

                The best thing about the soundtrack was being able to actually use some incredible pieces, mostly piano solos and impliedly played by our main character. I won't go into the specifics of the accuracy of what songs were meant to have been played and when, but I think the film was close rather than exact. I have a feeling this was more to do with selecting the right music that would also have an effect on the audience. It really helped to set the scene and mood, whilst also reminding us now and then of Szpilman's former life. It is really elegant yet tragic. There is a particular piece that Szpilman plays nearer the end of the film, and it really is moving. Especially in the context. Every now and then I like to listen to more classical music, although it is something of a rarity for me, but this was an added bonus.

                Classification

                With a film like this, you would hope that as many people as possible would get a chance to see it. To some extent, I'd recognise that it is important to help people understand about these things from as young an age as possible so that they are brought up knowing it is wrong to treat others in this way whatever their difference may be. On the other hand, I saw Schindler's List at school, and it may have had an effect on me, mostly making me cry as we did not see the whole thing, mainly the massacres, but I know for a fact some of the people in that class still turned out horrible anyway. I suppose people need to be old enough to understand (we were 14) and not just to want to see a bit of violence. With The Pianist, however, the violence is even less of a focus and if, for instance, a school had tried to play just a snippet of this, it would have been harder to just leave people horrified with no understanding of what they just saw. The film is more about people helping the Pianist, and the Pianist helping himself to make it through alive, so it is more about determination and a will to survive in spite of the conditions - with the contrast of those less fortunate. There's also the contrast of people who appeared keen to help but clearly had their own personal motives, whether or not they let him down. Realising why selfishness is wrong is a more likely message to come out of this film than how people were killed etc. If there was any swearing, it didn't stick in my mind and was probably used in relevant places. Also unlike the other film, The Pianist doesn't appear to have any sexual scenes, which is good. The film is rated 15, and I have to agree with this rating. Especially since it could be shown in schools!

                Conclusion

                Since I have been making comparisons and references in my review, I may have to be a little brave here and admit that actually I preferred this film to Schindler's List. That is probably more a personal thing, but as I mention I think this film gets its message across just as well, and is also hard-hitting, yet not as strong on the violence. It is definitely a film to be taken seriously and is not something you would put on just for the sake of having something to watch or in hope of something entertaining.

                This is the sort of film you would watch because you need to understand the events of the war and what it was like for the people at the time if only we can appreciate a fraction of what they went through. The horrors of World War 2 have affected people like nothing before, yet even today there is everything, from prejudice to mass killings, still going on. This film reminds us that we all have our individual talents and values and that these are worth the struggle to survive. It re-humanises the people who were not treated like people at all, yet forces us to see what it is to be treated as less.

                Don't watch this film just for the sake of it, but set aside some time one day to see it, because you won't regret it. Whether you see it on telly or on DVD, I think you'll be glad you did.

                Hope I've done it justice here, thanks for reading.

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                  29.08.2009 19:45
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                  `The Pianist` deserved those awards.

                  It is strange how a film that has won three Oscars and has been awarded two Bafta's can be right under your nose but you never actually pick it up off of the video store shelf to watch it.
                  This 2002 Roman Polanski Film has been hailed as an unforgettable masterpiece, so when a member of the family recommended it and I looked at the reviews on Dooyoo I decided that it was my time to watch `The Pianist`.

                  The film is based on a true story which was taken from the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a much acclaimed young Polish pianist and it is set in Warsaw 1939 at the beginning of the Nazi Occupation.
                  The starring role goes to Adrian Brody who plays Wladyslaw Szpilman.
                  Wladyslaw is an accomplished young pianist, a reserved young man who lives in Warsaw with his family.
                  Maureen Lipman plays the part of his mother and she takes the roles and embraces it wholeheartedly as if she were indeed that Jewish mother back in 1939.
                  Frank Finlay is cast as Wladyslaw's father and I feel that Frank portrays the fatherly role with nothing short of excellence, an experienced actor who is able to relay the right emotions so that they deliver the correct impact.
                  Wladyslaw has a brother and a sister and from watching it is possible to `feel` just how close knit that family are.

                  The storyline covers several years of Wladyslaw's life, as the film begins the family are united. As the Nazi's start to occupy Poland life becomes far more uncomfortable and as bad turns to worse, in turn worse leads to utter tragedy.
                  The Jews in Warsaw are subjected to terrifying acts of inhumanity as the Nazi's invade their homeland and as you watch the film you are completely drawn into those horrific scenarios as a helpless onlooker.
                  Wladyslaw and his family are eventually forcibly separated and he has to go it alone and it is a nightmare journey from beginning to end.
                  Wladyslaw is on the run from the Nazi's, he is witness to the most barbaric acts as many of his fellow Jews are just gunned down in the street and left in the gutter to die.
                  As Wladyslaw tries to evade the Nazi's he has to cope with the weakness that comes hand in hand with starvation and the daily pressures that life as a hunted Jew brings.
                  Wladyslaw's fight for survival is long and arduous, friends try their hardest to find him sanctuary in the mad , mad whirlwind that is blowing all around him.

                  I would hate to spoil the storyline for you so I have given you the gist of the story and I am going to leave it there.
                  You will be engrossed and involved, you will be horrified and enraged and as you reach the end of the journey you may realise that there is often some good that comes out of bad. I only add this as an afterthought because at one point nearing the end of the journey that was a thought that crossed my mind.

                  Because of the intensity of the subject the filming is often grey and bleak and it would be all to easy to reach for the remote control in desperation. It must have taken immense effort on behalf of the special effects team to successfully recreate the devastation that you are privvy to. But throughout the film the soundtrack somehow manages to give you a sense of hope, the waves of classical piano move in time with the mood of the film.
                  There were times when I literally jumped out of my skin as the Nazi's relentlessly and brutally slew the helpless Jews. But at one point you will see Wladyslaw reunited with his first love, the piano and there is one poignant scene that helped to restore some of my faith in human nature.

                  Though the film has quite a large cast there are only a small number of principal characters that are very memorable. Among those characters is Captain Wilm Hosenfeld played by Thomas Kretschman - his performance deserves a mention.
                  So many of the large cast are transient as the situation in Warsaw intensifies.

                  `The Pianist` is not a film that you can take lightly, the story is a part of world history and as such it could be seen as a gruelling watch.
                  Warsaw is the recipient of so many Nazi bombs that the parts of the city that are shown during the course of the film look violated and desolate.

                  The film is rated a 15 and I feel that the rating is right, I would certainly hesitate before letting anyone younger watch some of the horrific scenes of mass slaughter.
                  Though `The Pianist` contains no sex or nudity it does contain strong language and much violence.
                  It runs for 150 minutes.

                  `The Pianist` is compelling viewing yet I found that the central part of the film moved a bit too slowly. It of one of those films that demands complete attention.
                  It is brilliant and well worth watching, it could plunge you into despair and make you weep but it still failed to hit me as hard as Shchindler's List did.

                  The Pianist can be found on the Amazon website for as little as £3.50.

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                    20.07.2009 22:43
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                    Not a first date movie but definately worth watching

                    The pianist, directed by Roman Polanski starring Adrian Bodi is a very emotional and heart wrenching tale of survival during the Nazi occupation of warsaw in the second world war.

                    Based on a true story based on the life of Speilman, this movie follows the touching journey of a war torn jewish families desperate attempt for survival. The main character Speilman is a young jewish pianist who plays for the Polish radio until Poland was attacked.

                    Eventually his family was moved to the Ghetto, where the film follows his journey in an attempt to keep the family together.

                    This is a superbly acted film that has rightly won a great many awards including 3 Oscars and 2 BAFTAS.

                    This is quite a long a movie (2hrs 23mins) so does need some commitment, but is well worth the effort. It's rated a 15, but to be honest probably wouldn't appeal to anyone under the age anyway as it is quite gritty and dark. Certainly not a happy film!

                    Be warned though, this certainly isn't a first date movie! But is definately highly recommended, you might need the tissues though.

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                    28.05.2009 23:02
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                    Overall worth watching but not for everyone

                    I am going through and reviewing some pretty heavy films at the moment, and this is obviously no different. This film is excellent for highlighting the contrast between horror and brutality with moments of great humanity. The film tells a true story of the pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman and his fight for survival in a Warsaw ghetto after his entire family are taken to a concentration camp.

                    What I particularly like about this film is that whilst the brutality of the Nazis is often shown it is not gruesomely filmed and it is the plight of Wladyslaw Szpilman and the shocking standard of living that he has to go through. One of the most moving scenes in the film is when he is confronted by a German officer, who questions him, but instead of executing him asks him to play the piano for him. Ironically after all he has been through it is a German soldier that saves his life.

                    A very heavy film and one that certainly not be enjoyed by everyone, but still worth watching this amazing fight for survival.


                    Running time: 2hrs 23 mins
                    Certificate: 15

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                      19.03.2009 21:18

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                      An Intenese, Must-see film that accuratly portrays life for Jewish people during the holocaust

                      Easily one of the best films I have seen: the Pianist is a movie based on a true story about a Jewish man during the Holocaust. It shows the transition for the Jewish community - from the laws past against them forcing them to wear the star of David to being put into Ghetto's.
                      This film is not light-hearted in the slightest but does deliver and intense portrayal into the Holocaust and its affect on the Jewish communtiy. It is hard not to get emotional whilst watching the film as the horrors of the Holocaust is bluntly presented to you and is not sugar-coated in any way.

                      Adrien Brody delivers a master class performance and regardless of your beliefs you can't help buy feel the upmost sympathy for him and his family as their mercilessly harassed day in, day out.
                      I would sincerely recommend this film to anyone as it is an amazing film, but in no way is it for the faint hearted and many people have been overwhelmed by the sheer rawness of images shown in this intensly gripping film.

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                      05.02.2009 12:31
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                      A classic film about the Holocaust

                      A review of the Optimum DVD, available from amazon for £5.50 at time of writing.

                      This is a hugely acclaimed, multiple-award-winning film from 2002. It tells the true story of classical pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman and what happens to him and his family during the Second World War. Szpilman - whose memoirs the film is based on - is a Polish Jew, and following the German invasion we witness the escalation of German atrocities towards him and his fellow Jews - the petty regulations, the casual brutality, then the ghetto, the murders, the deportations and slave labour. It's not exactly a cheerful film, but it's essential viewing.

                      There are broadly speaking two types of Holocaust film (excluding cheap Italian horror films of the 70s). There are those that are actually about the Holocaust; and there are those which, rather despicably, use the Holocaust as a backdrop, using it to give a bit of oomph to a tepid human interest story. Happily, this is the former. (The latter, sadly, seems to be in the ascendant at the moment.) The director is Roman Polanski, himself a Polish Jew who experienced life in a ghetto and lost almost his entire family, so it's no surprise that the subject is treated with respect.

                      This is a very well made, big budget film. Not a lot of pre-war Warsaw still exists (you'll find out why if you watch the film), so although some location filming was possible, they had to build an awful lot of it from scratch. The tiniest details of costume and décor look exactly right. Life in the ghettoes isn't quite as fixed in the public mind as the camps themselves are - you say 'Auschwitz' and most people will have at least a vague image form in their heads. The same can't really be said of the Warsaw Ghetto - this film brings it to life. While there's no sense in which this can be said to represent reality - it's just a film, after all - the director's own background probably makes it the closest we'll see to how it was.

                      This film should horrify you. I'm neither Jewish nor musical, but it's impossible not to empathise with Szpilman and his family as their affluent, cultured middle class lifestyle vanishes in an instant on the whim of a foreign dictator. Scenes of Szpilman's father being slapped by passing German officers for forgetting to bow are deeply shocking. This is partly because the characters are so well-drawn that we know how they must feel, but also because we're made to imagine what it would be like if that were us, or one of our relatives. And as things get worse and worse, and as the family try desperately to stay together, it becomes heartbreaking, because we all, surely, know what's going to happen to them...

                      But Szpilman survives - the most harrowing stuff is found in the film's first half. The second half is altogether more optimistic. We see the Warsaw Uprising and the brutal destruction that followed it, so it's no walk in the park, but we do meet at least a few decent people in the second half. Ultimately, Szpilman's musical talent endears him to a sensitive German, who may be able to offer a chance at survival. It isn't exactly uplifting, but it is at least optimistic.

                      The direction and photography are deliberately low key, so as not to distract from the story (which is why this is a greater film than Schindler's List - well-intentioned though that film is, it suffers from Spielberg's desire to show off). There's very little incidental music, and what there is is rather muted - there are occasional bursts of Chopin, as Szpilman remembers his former career, and occasionally gets to play. But although Szpilman's love of music helps get him through his ordeal, this isn't a tiresome 'the power of art transcends everything!' films. Man's ability to create is ultimately triumphant over his ability to destroy, but I'd think everyone could find *something* to help keep them going - in Spzilman's case it's music, because music is his career.

                      Although quite long, at two and a quarter hours, everything about The Pianist is incredibly skilfully done.That includes the acting, which is flawless. Adrien Brody won a deserved Oscar as Szpilman. He's not demonstrative or melodramatic, rarely even crying, which probably helps us to identify with him. He does suffering very well without over-acting, and ends up looking dangerously gaunt. Everyone else is great - Frank Finlay and Maureen Lipman are pleasingly familiar faces as his parents. Emilia Fox, as a sort-of love interest, is the only other British actor I'd heard of. The Polish characters all speak English with a trace of accent, while the Germans speak German. The main German actor, second-billed Thomas Kretschmann (also seen as Fegelein in Downfall) is fine, but doesn't have much to do other than be a fairly typical 'good German'.

                      The DVD contains a rather unrepresentative trailer and a good 40-minute making-of documentary. It's interesting, with a lot of contributions from Polanski, and goes into the history of the subject and the director's own memories, as well as telling us about things like set design.

                      It's well worth getting hold of a copy of this. It's certainly Polanski's best film since Chinatown, and the best fictionalised representation of the Holocaust that I've seen. You won't come out of it tap-dancing with happiness, but that's no excuse not to see it.

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                        04.02.2009 15:21
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                        A must to learn what happened to ordinary people

                        Before embarking on this film I would suggest that you read the book that inspired this movie.

                        This has to be one of the most breath taking and staggering films I have ever seen. I have now seen it about 50 times and the clever thing is that every time I watch it I find something new and exciting in it.

                        The film is based upon the book by a famous Polish Pianist and the effects the German occupation had upon him and his very close knit family.

                        Set in Poland right at the start of the war, it continues on right until the end of the war with the Russian troops marching through the streets.

                        The film is harrowing from the outset. We see people being murdered right in front of our eyes, being throuwn out of windows, made to run away and then be shot, shot at point blank range for asking a question and made to lie down on the floor and then shot in the head...for no reason at all.

                        The horror of this situation not only comes from the Nazis, but also from the upper class Jews who live in luxury in the ghettos (whilst other Jews around them starve) and from the KAPO - the Jewish policeforce who enforce the strict regime of their masters.

                        It is amazing that the Pianist himself survived to tell his tale and the film charts his ups and downs, including near death on many occasions brilliantly.

                        Maureen Lipman plays a huge part in this film as the matriarch of the family, so keen to keep them all together and happy.

                        It is harrowing and gut wrenching and the concert performed for the German soldier at the end of the film is now the stuff of legend. WHat better way for a pianist to express his and and disbelief with an abominable situation than through dramatic playing of fierce classical music.

                        This is bigger and better than Schindler's list and is a must.

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                          03.02.2009 22:49

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                          Nazi occupation of Warsaw is as good as Schindler's List, but more meticulous.

                          As with Schindler's List, we are let gradually, menacingly into the world of Nazi-occupied Germany, and in the story of a man who, with his family, finds himself a victim of the segregation and sudden turn to persecution of ordinary Jews in the ghettos. The process is menacing and meticulous, and a story of survival emerges where our sense of personal fear is occasionally as acute as our pianist.

                          Polanski the director has been long-coming to this project, himself a survivor of a concentration camp, who in previous films like Frantic and The Ninth Gate, has been flexing his talent for depicting men on the run, who through resourcefulness and good luck arrive at a conclusion of distance and meaning. The Pianist is an arduous tale of survival, showing quite casually the horror of the Nazi treatment of Jews, the evil that men are capable of. We are a viewer looking out at the events of the last century as closely and yet as divorced from them as this ordinary pianist, looking out at the street fighting behind the cracked glass. Will they notice him - and us? There is always lurking the extraordinary distance between the abject conceit of survival and the destructive conflict and his sublime music. It is this music that makes itself out alive to tell the story, a musical connection with the struggling and horror of humanity and its triumphant depiction through an artist's sensitivity. An artist like Polanski himself.

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