Holocaust films come every now and then. We know what happened to the Jews, how they were treated by Nazis, how they were brutally killed and about those who helped the Jews survive the tragic happenings. But, why do we keep watching films of this genre and yearn for more? That is only because of the fact that truth, no matter how similar the Holocaust stories are, they are still different. There is a number of true stories to share, and each one is unique. These stories are here to remind us of how terrible people can be.
The Pianist (2002), directed by legendary filmmaker Roman Polanski is one of the best Holocaust films of the year. It portrays a man’s descent from a happy life to a life on the verge of death. The film is based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman (played by Adrien Brody), a Polish pianist who risked everything to avoid Nazi concentration camps.
The story spans the period of World War II from September 1939 through the Red Army’s incursion into Warsaw in January 1945. Nazis invade Poland when Szpilman was broadcasting live on the radio. Following this, Szpilman narrowly escaped deportation to a Nazi death camp from the Warsaw Ghetto.
The Jews’ living conditions gradually degrade until they are forced to live in a ghetto. The rest of the film follows his attempts to escape the Nazis during the war in the hopes of continuing to play the piano again.
When it comes to direction, Polanski creates an extraordinary portrait of the human condition and the battle for survival in the face of oppression. Being a holocaust survivor, the director tells a story that is realistic and it is a recollection of his own childhood experiences. He managed to escape the ghetto and live as a Roman Catholic, surviving the war and occupation to become the filmmaker we know today. Polanski’s personal past adds a cutting truth and immediacy to his portrayal of The Pianist.
In the film, Polanski never tried to romanticise the struggle of mankind. He has shown the real portrayal of war and its aftermath. He does an amazing job in direction and showcase several really horrific moments, including Jews being made to lie on the floor to be shot, a wheelchair-bound man being tossed from a balcony, Jews eating from the muddy floor due to hunger and many more.
I must say that Adrien Brody portrays an outstanding performance throughout the film. Even when Brody is alone in a scene, he manages to keep the scene alive. We can say that this film is entirely focused on his character.
In 2003, The Pianist won Academy Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role by Adrien Brody, Best Director Roman Polanski and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay by Ronald Harwood.
The Pianist is not an easy watch but it indeed is an important film. I recommend everyone to watch and understand this incredible film to know what people had gone through under Nazi regime.
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