Template:Infobox film The Pianist is a 2002 film directed by Roman Polanski, starring Adrien Brody. It is an adaptation of the autobiography of the same name by Jewish-Polish musician Władysław Szpilman. The film is a co-production between Polish, French, German, and British film companies.

In addition to winning the Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay and being nominated for Best Film, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Film Editing, the film won Palme d'Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival[1] and BAFTA Award for Best Film in 2003. It was also awarded seven French Césars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Brody (who became the only American actor to win one).


Władysław Szpilman (Brody), a famous Polish Jewish pianist working for Warsaw Radio, sees his whole world collapse with the outbreak of World War II and the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. After the radio station is rocked by explosions from German bombing, Szpilman goes home and learns that the United Kingdom and France have declared war on Nazi Germany. He and his family rejoice, believing the war will end quickly.

When the Nazis' armed SS organization occupies Warsaw after the Wehrmacht passes on, living conditions for the Jewish population gradually deteriorate as their rights are slowly eroded: first they are allowed only a limited amount of money per family, then they must wear armbands imprinted with the blue Star of David to identify themselves, and eventually, on Halloween 1940, they are all forced into the squalid Warsaw Ghetto. There, they face hunger, persecution and humiliation from the SS and the ever-present fear of death or torture and suffering starvation. The Nazis became increasingly sadistic and the family witnesses many horrors inflicted on other Jews. In one scene, a group of Einsatzgruppen, led by an NCO, go into the apartment across from the Szpilmans. They order the family on the top floor to stand up for them, then when an elderly man in a wheelchair is unable to stand up, the NCO orders the other SS men to throw the man off the balcony. The rest of the family are then taken out into the street and shot, and the SS drive off, running over the bodies along the way.

Before long, the family, along with thousands of others, are rounded up for deportation by train to the extermination facility at Treblinka. As the Jews are being forced onto cattle cars, Szpilman is saved at the last moment by one of the Jewish Ghetto Police, who happens to be a family friend. Separated from his family and loved ones, Szpilman manages to survive. At first he is pressed into a German reconstruction unit inside the ghetto as a slave labourer. During this period, another Jewish labourer confides to Szpilman two critical pieces of information: one, that many Jews who still survive know of the German plans to exterminate them, and two, that a Jewish uprising against the Germans is being actively prepared for. Szpilman volunteers his help for the plan. He is enlisted to help smuggle weapons into the ghetto, almost being caught at one point.

Later, before the uprising starts, Szpilman decides to go into hiding outside the ghetto, relying on the help of non-Jews who still remember him such as an ex-coworker of his from the radio station. While living in hiding, he witnesses many horrors committed by the SS, such as widespread killing, beating and burning of Jews and others (the burning is mostly shown during the two Warsaw uprisings). In 1943, Szpilman also finally witnesses the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising he helped to bring about, and its aftermath as the SS forcibly enters the ghetto and kills nearly all the remaining insurgents. A year goes by and life in Warsaw further deteriorates. Szpilman is forced to flee his first hiding place after a neighbour detects his presence and threatens to inform on him. In his second hiding place, near a German military hospital, Szpilman nearly dies due to jaundice and malnutrition.

In August 1944, the Polish resistance mounts the Warsaw Uprising against the German occupation. Szpilman witnesses the Polish insurgents fighting the Germans outside his window. Again, Szpilman narrowly escapes death when a German tank shells the apartment he is hiding in. Warsaw is virtually razed and depopulated as a result of the fighting. After the surviving Warsaw population is deported from the city ruins and the escape of German SS from the approaching Soviet Army, Szpilman is left entirely alone. In buildings still standing, he searches desperately for food. While trying to open a can of Polish pickles, Szpilman is discovered by a captain of the Wehrmacht, Wilm Hosenfeld (Kretschmann). Upon questioning Szpilman and discovering that he is a pianist, Hosenfeld asks Szpilman to play something for him on the grand piano that happens to be in the building. The decrepit Szpilman, only a shadow of the flamboyant pianist he once was, plays an abbreviated version of Chopin's Ballade in G minor.

Hosenfeld lets Szpilman continue hiding in the attic of the building and even brings him food regularly, thus saving his life. Another few weeks go by, and the German troops are forced to withdraw from Warsaw due to the advance of the Red Army troops. Before leaving the area, Hosenfeld asks Szpilman what his name is, and, upon hearing it, remarks that it is apt for a pianist (Szpilman being the Polish rendering of the German Spielmann, meaning "man who plays"). Hosenfeld also promises to listen for Szpilman on Polish Radio. He gives Szpilman his Wehrmacht uniform greatcoat and leaves. Later, that coat is almost fatal for Szpilman when Polish troops, liberating the ruins of Warsaw, take him for a German officer and shoot at him. He is eventually able to convince them that he is Polish, and they stop shooting.

As newly freed prisoners of a concentration camp walk home, they pass a fenced-in enclosure of German prisoners of war, guarded by Soviet soldiers. A badly injured German prisoner, who turns out to be Hosenfeld, calls out to the passing ex-prisoners. Hosenfeld begs one of them, a violinist of Szpilman's acquaintance, to contact Szpilman to free him. Szpilman, who has gone back to playing live on Warsaw Radio, arrives at the site too late; all the prisoners have been removed along with any trace of the stockade. In the film's final scene, Szpilman triumphantly performs Chopin's Grand Polonaise brillante in E flat major to a large audience in Warsaw. Title cards shown just before the end credits reveal that Szpilman continued to live in Warsaw and died in 2000, but that Hosenfeld died in 1952 in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp.


Production Edit

Template:Unreferenced The story had deep connections with director Roman Polanski because he escaped from the Krakow Ghetto as a child after the death of his mother. He ended up living in a Polish farmer's barn until the war's end. His father almost died in the camps, but they reunited after the end of World War II.

Joseph Fiennes was Polanski's first choice for the main role, but he turned it down due to a previous commitment to the theatre. Over 1,400 actors auditioned for the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman at a casting call in London. Unsatisfied with all who tried, director Roman Polanski sought to cast Adrien Brody, whom he saw as ideal for the role during their first meeting in Paris.

Principal photography on The Pianist began on 9 February 2001 in Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam, Germany. The Warsaw Ghetto and the surrounding city were recreated on the backlot of Babelsberg Studios as they would have looked during the war. Old Soviet army barracks were used to create the ruined city, as they were going to be destroyed anyway.

The first scenes of the film were shot at the old army barracks. Soon after, the filmmakers moved to a villa in Potsdam, which served as the house where Szpilman meets Hosenfeld. On 2 March 2001, filming then moved to an abandoned Soviet army hospital in Beelitz, Germany. The scenes that featured the Germans destroying the hospital with flame throwers were filmed here. On 15 March filming finally moved to Babelsberg Studios. The first scene shot at the studio was the scene in which Szpilman witnesses a resistance mounted by the Jews from the Ghetto, which is eventually ended by the Nazis. The scene was complex and technically demanding as it involved various stunts and explosives. Filming at the studios ended on 26 March and moved to Warsaw on 29 March. The rundown district of Praga was chosen for filming because of its abundance of original buildings. The art department built onto these original buildings, re-creating World War II–era Poland with signs and posters from the period. Additional filming also took place around Warsaw. The Umschlagplatz scene where Szpilman, his family and hundreds of other Jews wait to be taken to the concentration camps was filmed at the National Defence University in Warsaw.

Principal photography ended in July 2001, and was followed by months of post-production, which took place in Paris, France.

Critical reception Edit

The Pianist currently holds a score of 95% on the film rating website Rotten Tomatoes,[2] with the Cream of the Crop critics rating the movie with a score of 94%. Metacritic rates the movie as 85% based on 40 reviews.[3]

Some reviewersTemplate:Who thought that the movie was too detached and lacked urgency, but Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times disagreed, noting that "perhaps that impassive quality reflects what Polanski wants to say... By showing Szpilman as a survivor but not a fighter or a hero—as a man who does all he can to save himself, but would have died without enormous good luck and the kindness of a few non-Jews—Polanski is reflecting... his own deepest feelings: that he survived, but need not have, and that his mother died and left a wound that had never healed."[4]


The film was released on DVD on 26 May 2003 in a double-sided "flipper" disc Special Edition DVD. The first side of the disk had the film with no bonus material. The second side of the disc included the Bonus Material. Some Bonus Material included a making-of, interviews with Adrien Brody, Roman Polanski and Ronald Harwood, and clips of Władysław Szpilman playing the piano. Polish DVD edition included audio commentary track (in Polish) by production designer Allan Starski and director of photography Paweł Edelman.



  • The piano piece heard at the beginning of the film is Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor Lento con gran espressione, Op. posth.
  • The piano piece that is heard being played a next door neighbour while Szpilman was in hiding at an apartment was the Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4 by Frederic Chopin.
  • The piano music heard in the abandoned house when Szpilman had just discovered a hiding place in the attic was the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. It would later be revealed that German officer Hosenfeld was the pianist. The German composition juxtaposed with the mainly Polish/Chopin selection of Szpilman.
  • The piano piece played when Szpilman is confronted by Hosenfeld is Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23. Also, the version played in the movie was shortened. The entire piece lasts 9-10 minutes.
  • The cello piece heard at the middle of the film, played by Dorota, is the Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1.
  • The piano piece heard at the end of the film, played with an orchestra, is Chopin's Grande Polonaise brillante, Op. 22.
  • Shots of Szpilman's hands playing the piano in close-up were provided by Polish classical pianist Janusz Olejniczak (b. 1952), who also performed on the soundtrack.
  • Since Polanski wanted the film to be as realistic as possible, any scene showing Brody playing was actually his playing voiced over by recordings provided by Janusz Olejniczak. In order for Brody's playing to look like it was at the level of Władysław Szpilman's, he spent many months prior to and during the filming practicing so that his keystrokes on the piano would convince viewers that it was him playing. It was never specified whether or not it was actually Adrien Brody playing at certain points in the film such as the beginning where Władysław Szpilman's playing is interrupted by German bombing.

Awards and nominationsEdit



See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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Template:Roman Polanski Template:Palme d'Or 2000-2019 Template:César Award for Best Filmar:عازف البيانو (فيلم) bn:দ্য পিয়ানিস্ট (২০০২-এর চলচ্চিত্র) bs:Pijanist (film) ca:El pianista cs:Pianista (film) cy:The Pianist (ffilm) da:Pianisten de:Der Pianist el:Ο Πιανίστας (ταινία) es:El pianista fa:پیانیست (فیلم) fr:Le Pianiste gl:O Pianista hr:Pijanist (2002) id:The Pianist (film) it:Il pianista (film) he:הפסנתרן la:The Pianist (pellicula) hu:A zongorista nl:The Pianist ja:戦場のピアニスト no:Pianisten pl:Pianista (film) pt:O Pianista ru:Пианист (фильм) sr:Пијаниста (филм) fi:Pianisti (elokuva) sv:Pianisten (film, 2002) ta:த பியானிஸ்ட் th:สงคราม ความหวัง บัลลังก์ เกียรติยศ tr:Piyanist (film, 2002) uk:Піаніст (фільм) vi:Nghệ sĩ dương cầm (phim) zh:钢琴家 (电影)

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