The Pianist is a horrifying true story of someone’s triumph over oppression. Through its brutal imagery, minimalist soundtrack, and Adrien Brody’s believable portrayal as a persecuted man just trying to survive, it reveals how strong the human will to live is.
The film tells the story of acclaimed Polish pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman (Brody), during World War II. Szpilman plays piano for the local radio station when the war breaks out. The Nazi’s discriminate against Szpilman and his family by forcing them to wear an armband identifying them as Jewish. They soon force the family and into a tiny two room ghetto apartment where they struggle to make enough money to buy food, while many other people die in the streets. When his family are forced into slave camps, Szpilman is fortunate enough to escape. However, he is forced to live in locked-in apartments to remain alive. Szpilman eventually escapes after the Nazi’s blow holes in his building, and he wanders the ruins for some time, scavenging for food until the war ends. Eventually, he returns to playing broadcast pianist.
The film brutally depicts the Nazi’s inhumane actions and this graphic imagery and intense acting is very shocking. However, the film contains some touching moments that remind audiences of what it means to be human.
The soundtrack is very minimalist, allowing the superb acting and seriousness of the situation to show through. However, it also allows for the rare moments of music, especially when the protagonist plays piano, to shine all the more brighter, allowing the audience to recognise that despite all of the horror Szpilman endures, there is still beauty in humanity.
I recommend The Pianist because it’s a very touching and sensitive film on surviving cruelty, showing humanity at its worst and best. However, it is very gruesome and horrifying, which may deter some viewers.