This powerful, precision-made movie offers hope as well -- an act of kindness from a German officer that saves the pianists life, the music that sustains his soul.
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Polanski, himself a survivor of Nazi-occupied Poland, has created a near-masterpiece.
The results are masterful, admirably unsentimental, and never boring, if also a little stodgy.
Polanski's film is an unqualified success both dramatically and artistically.
The result is a movie, and Cannes Palme d'Or winner, of riveting power and sadness, a great match of film and filmmaker -- and star, too.
Never before has a fiction film so clearly and to such devastating effect laid out the calculation of the Nazi machinery of death and its irrationality.
Szpilman takes to performing sonatas in thin air, eyes closed, those jittery fingers stroking nothing but air. It's a wonderful moment in a wonderful, ghastly film, and one of the most moving arguments for the redemptive powers of art ever made.
Through Brody's remarkably controlled, self-effacing performance, Polanski succeeds in making his hero an invisible man, but the sights he conjures are surprisingly artless and ordinary, familiar from a dozen other Holocaust dramas. Among the casualties in The Pianist is a great director's imagination.
To name only one of its predecessors -- for me, the towering one -- doesn't "Schindler's List" do everything that Polanski achieves and more?
There are three Poles in The Pianist -- Szpilman, Polanski, and Frederic Chopin. Of the three, fittingly, Chopin speaks the loudest.