‘The Pianist’, A factual episode during the Holocaust | Sunday Observer

‘The Pianist’, A factual episode during the Holocaust

30 October, 2022

‘The Pianist’, a movie, crafted without a whiff of melodrama takes an unvarying and resolute look at the extremity and the agony of the Jews in the Polish capital of Warsaw during Nazi occupation.

‘The Pianist’ is supposed to be the most potent movie of director Roman Polanski, probably after several decades. After Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’, ‘ ‘The Pianist’ has reached such a remarkable dramatic excellence. The attempts taken by ‘The Pianist’ ‘ to be different from that of the other orthodox Holocaust dramas are arguably exceptional.

There are no scenes that show Nazi concentration camps. Rather than getting stranded in Auschwitz, the film takes its audience into the streets of Warsaw where life had no hope except despair, misery, agony and anguish. Polanski does not wince from depicting the naked fright and atrocities inflicted by Hitler’s Nazi army on Jews.

No attempt is taken to mollify and pacify the bitter truth behind the lives of Jews. The film frequently runs with the gunshots directed at the head, torture and the effects brought down by sordid starvation.


The film contains some characteristics of a documentary. Polanski observes the matter from a detached standpoint, detailing the heinous acts of brutality without manipulating his audience. The repercussion is arid, stark and powerful and may overcome more sensitive viewers.

The film unfolds in Warsaw in the year 1939, following Poland’s defeat to Germany. An acclaimed Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, played by Adrien Brody is the protagonist of the film who along with his family is compelled to watch since the restraints against Jews become progressively unpleasant and repulsive.

The film depicts how Jews are initially debarred from having meals from certain establishments, hanging around in public parks or sitting on public benches. Soon the Jews are ordered to wear identifying armbands, bowing and showing their respect to the Nazis in the street and walk in the gutters. Every Jew in Warsaw was moved into a ghetto.

Every family is flushed into cramped small rooms. A considerable number of Jews are eventually shipped to concentration camps where they are exterminated. Those who are capable of labour could still remain lucky to survive.

Wladyslaw at this point is separated from his loved ones in the family. He gets the rare chance of survival and remains for the time being as part of a workforce. He sees his family herded into a cattle car. Ultimately, he manages to escape and goes into hiding with the assistance of the underground. From there onwards, until he reaches the Soviet Union, he fights and struggles with disease, unbearable cold and starvation.


Adrien Brody is the only actor who has significant screen time with his influential portrayal of the titular character, he represents one of the most outstanding male performances of the year. Brody represents a quick-witted and cultured Jew.

However, towards the latter parts of the film, he resembles the traits of a so-called caveman. His speech is reduced to squeak and squawk. His woolly and fleecy hair and his haggard appearance recollect the memories and images of anyone dying in the not-so-distant extermination camps and his expectation of survival manifests in two things: a hunt for food initially and later on flight from the Nazis.

Almost all the films based on the Holocaust are predominantly centered on the factual incidents, ‘The Pianist’ is a true story which adds another layer to its impact. Proficiency and capability of Polanski add glamour and grace into the film that takes it into the celebrated stardom. A strong and clear narration is the film’s synonym.

Music and images employed by the director are exceptionally rewarding and they embellish and adorn Wladyslaw’s struggle across the rooted memories of the viewers. Nobody who has ever watched ‘The Pianist’ would forget the astound and lurch sight of the titular character hobbling down the blasted, bombed out Warsaw’s streets with warped and perverted half destroyed buildings lining the streets where there’s no sigh of a human survival.

Magician with music

The extempore ‘Concert’ that he gives for Capt. Wilm Hosenfeld played by Thomas Kretschmann, an officer in the Nazi army is preeminent, for a moment at least transforms the theriomorphic looking Wladyslaw into a magician with music. The perfect bittersweet note is envisaged with the end of the film. Hope of life is well returned but no aspect of the future would endure and persist, untouched by the past.

With his exceptional production of ‘The Pianist’, Roman Polanski has given his audience the most recent motion picture that could take the future generations down the memory lane on the atrocities, committed by Hitler’s Nazi regime against the humankind.

Polanski has not failed to provide his viewers with a wave of hope that his very own career itself, following a great many dead-ends, may eventually be back on track.

‘The Pianist’ is nigh on Universal and it grabbed Palme d’or Award at the Cannes film festival, British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) award and several Academy Awards.

The main casts include Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay and Maureen Lipman. ‘The Pianist’ is a film that you should not miss.