The Pianist, 2002
Directed by Roman Polanski
The Pianist piqued my interest, mainly because of how often I see Adrien Brody winning the Oscar for this film on the list of "biggest shocks/surprises" at the Oscars. As well, Roman Polanski is extremely controversial (duh) and I wanted to see the movie that won him his Best Director Oscar, a movie that is based very much on his own childhood.
The Pianist tells the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a famous Polish pianist, who lived through the ghettoization of Warsaw.
My husband commented after the film that it was disappointing there aren't more movies set around the Polish Ghettos during WWII. And after watching this film, I do agree. Not that it was a comfortable movie to watch, but because there are so many stories to be told! And indeed, while The Pianist isn't quite on the level of Schindler's List, in terms of Holocaust/WWII movies, The Pianist is indeed beautiful and heartbreaking.
Adrien Brody is indeed exceptional as Szpilman. He goes through so many different stages and Brody plays them all so well. He has just such an emotional face and he carries the weight of Szpilman's experiences so well.
As well, just the storytelling in general is just so heartbreaking. It's not a quick flip through the scenes, but a studied look at the Polish ghetto and how demeaning that experience was. But also you think about how much luckier they probably were there than at any concentration camp, and you completely depress yourself.
The Pianist is a beautiful and heart-wrenching film that should be seen by more people. This is a movie where I can absolutely separate art from the artist. While what Polanski did was so sketchy and wrong, he was also a man who grew up experiencing the things that we see. And stories like this, about Jewish discrimination and extinction is so important.