The Pianist (2002) Review

Synopsis

In this adaptation of the autobiography “The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945,” Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a Polish Jewish radio station pianist, sees Warsaw change gradually as World War II begins. Szpilman is forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, but is later separated from his family during Operation Reinhard. From this time until the concentration camp prisoners are released, Szpilman hides in various locations among the ruins of Warsaw.

Release date: December 4, 2002

(USA)Director: Roman Polanski

Featured song: Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. posth.

Screenplay: Ronald Harwood

My Review

I’m ashamed to say that it took me so long to a watch this film. The Pianist gives its audience an entirely fresh perspective of what Jews faced during the Holocaust. This film touched my soul uniquely. If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and go watch it!

Most movies with a Jewish protagonist during WWII showcase what life was like inside of the concentration camps. However, in this film the audience gains knowledge of what life in the Ghetto was like and what life looked like for the Jews that worked outside of Concentration Camps. I loved getting a new outlook on historically accurate events, especially since this film is based on a true story.

Szpilman in his hiding place

The film centers on Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jewish pianist living in Poland. As his family is being loaded up on trains headed for Concentration Camps, a Jewish friend of Szpilman’s who became a German Solder pulls him out of the crowd saving his life. The rest of the film follows Szpilman trying to survive in an empty ghetto, getting a construction job working for the Germans, and finally hiding out until the end of the war.

This is not a movie for those faint of heart. There is a reason they rate this film R. It’s emotionally jarring and hard to watch at times. However, for that reason I think it’s crucial for us to watch. The acting in this movie is beyond incredible. Adrien Brody, portrays the protagonist film, and his acting is one of the most believable performances I have seen in a very long time. Whatever emotion his character was feeling, I physically felt in my gut. In fact, there were several times I teared up alongside him. The acting along with the lifelike sets made me feel like I was watching a documentary on the actual family versus actors re-creating the historical events.

Szpilman wanders around an empty Jewish Ghetto after being separated from his entire family

I’ve heard people criticizing this film for having too slow of a pace. However, for me this just added to its realist feel. It felt like the film was occurring in real time, which added to its life like feel. I have nothing bad to say about this film. Have you seen this film? Leave your thoughts in the comments down below.

My Rating

5 out of 5

I would definitely watch this film again, and I highly recommend everyone watch it at least once in their lifetime. This film is available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime as of the time I am posting this.

Wladyslaw Szpilman In Real Life

If you enjoy Holocaust centered films, check out my review on Life Is Beautiful. Another film centered on a Jewish family with a unique storyline and perspective.

https://cinematicgeekster.com/2020/04/26/life-is-beautiful-1997-film-review/


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Saving Private Ryan (1998) Film Review

Synopsis

Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realties of war, while searching for Ryan, each man embarks upon a personal journey and discovers their own strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage.
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Release dateJuly 24, 1998 (USA)
Budget70 million USD

My Review 

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By far this is one of the best war movies of all time. It’s hard and tear jerking to watch because of how accurate and life like the war scenes are. Something that really adds to the uncomfortable realistic feel of the film is the lack of music. It’s hard to notice when first watching the movie because as an audience member you are so sucked into the action. But if you pay attention during any battle scene, there is absolutely no music playing in the background. In fact, music is used sparingly and only when it adds to the overall emotional impact on the audience. During the bloody war scenes all the audience hears are bullets shooting, men screaming, blood gushing, and orders being given. This makes the audience feel as if they themselves are on the front lines with all the actor’s.

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Another powerful element of this film is the camera work. The cinematography is innovative and creative. However, it’s kept subtle to where you don’t remember your watching a movie on a screen. It feels as if your watching war history in person. A lot of the camera angles are kept eye level, or close to the ground, which adds to this effect. There are very little bird eye shots or hero shots in this film. Which would have only lost the audience’s personal connection into the film. This was a really impactful decision made by the cinematographer of this film.

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This film showcases the darker side of humanity. It allows audience members who have never been on a battle front a chance to experience the realistic horror and intense action. It allows us a look into a world not all of us are familiar with. That makes watching this film such a memorable experience.

My Rating

4.8 out of 5

I recommend everybody watch this film at least once in their life.

Oscar Winner Predictions 2020

Actor in Leading Role:

Antonio Banderas- Pain and Glory

Leonardo DiCaprio- Once upon a time… in Hollywood

Adam Driver- Marriage Story

Joaquin Phoenix- Joker

Jonathan Pryce- The Two Popes

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Joaquin’s performance in Joker was chilling and memorizing. From watching the movie, it is easy to tell he completely poured himself into the role and became the Joker. In face, it was easy to forget that you were watching Joaquin on the screen and instead it felt like watching the Joker. His performance in this role really impressed me and stayed with me long after watching the movie.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Tom Hanks- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Anthony Hopkins- The Two Popes

Al Pacino The Irishman

Joe Pesci- The Irishman

Brad Pitt- Once upon a Time… in Hollywood

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Movies about well-known star figures have been a huge trend recently, and Tom Hanks did not disappoint in his portrayal of the infamous Mr. Rogers. Tom Hanks completely stepped into the role and became Mr. Rogers.

Actress in a Leading Role

Cynthia Erivo- Harriet

Scarlett Johansson- Marriage Story

Saoirse Ronan- Little Women

Charlize Theron- Bombshell

Renée Zellweger- Judy

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This is one of the most difficult categories to pick a winner. I would say it’s a close tie between Johansson, Ronan, and Zellweger. However, Scarlett Johansson really stepped up to the plate in this movie. She did an incredible job realistically portraying a mother and wife going through a divorce. Her performance was tear jerking and believable.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Kathy Bates- Richard Jewell

Laura Dern- Marriage Stroy

Scarlett Johansson- Jojo Rabbit

Florence Pugh- Little Women

Margot Robbie- Bombshell

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This is one of the best roles I have seen Laura Dern preform in a very long time. She does such an outstanding job playing a cut throat lawyer while still adding lots of complexions and dimensions to her character. She was lifelike and came to life on screen.

Animated Feature Film

How To Train Your Dragon- DeBlois, Lewis, and Arnold

I Lost My Body- Clapin and Marc du Pontavice

Klaus- Pablos, Gotoh, and Román

Missing Link- Butler, Sutner, and Knight

Toy Story 4- Cooley, Nielson, and Rivera

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Klaus was a very heartfelt and well put together movie. It is the kind of movie you can watch repeatedly and not grow sick of it. The animation and musical score was also extremely impressive.

Best Cinematography

The Irshman- Rodrigo Prieto

Joker- Lawrence Sher

The Lighthouse- Jarin Blaschke

1917- Roger Deakins

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood- Robert Richardson

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Every shot in Joker was jaw-dropping. To the point where I didn’t want to look away. It’s easy to tell each shot was given great care and attention. If you pay attention, there is deep symbolism and a deeper meaning in almost every camera setup.

Best Costume Design

The Irshman- Powell and Peterson

Jojo Rabbit- Mayes C. Rubeo

Joker- Mark Bridges

Little Women- Jacqueline Durran

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood-Arianne Phillips

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Everything about the world in this movie created a very realistic and believable environment. However, the costumes were particularly impressive and added a lot to this movies viewing experience.

Best Director

The Irishman- Martin Scorsese

Joker- Todd Phillips

1917- Sam Mendes

Once Upon A Time.. In Hollywood- Quentin Tarantino

Parasite- BongJoon Ho

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1917, is one of the best war movies ever made. This movie stood out from so many other war movies because it had so many unique directorial decisions. The creative vision behind this film is truly what makes it such an incredible film.

Best Film Editing

Ford V Ferrari- McCusker and Buckland

The Irishman- Schoonmaker

Jojo Rabbit- Engles

Joker- Groth

Parasite- Jinmo

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The editing in this film was seamless and was extrmelly smooth. There were some very clever transitions, and I did not notice any issues with contnuity or match shots either.

Best Music (Original Score)

Joker- Gudnadottir

Little Women- Desplat

Marriage Story- Newman

1917- Newman

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker- Williams

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The music of Joker was one of my favoroite things about the film. The music was so creative and helped to establish a sense of emotion within the film. There were times the music made me tear up, uncomortable, etc. Which in total added to my experience watching the film.

Best Picture

Ford V Ferrari

The Irshman

JoJo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

1917

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood

Parasite

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As you can tell from my top picks for categories, Joker was by far one of my favorite films of 2019. It’s one of my best films I have seen in a very long time and blew me in a way that most films do not accomplish.