The Pianist

4 out of 5 snowstones

For a long time, I was unaware that as a child, director Roman Polanski was in the Krakow ghetto and that he spent most of the war wandering the European countryside. It helps explain why he made a movie out of the true life's story of Wladek Szpilman, a Polish Jew and pianist who turns from hunted to haunted as he tries to survive in his city, Warsaw, during World War II.
Like in Schindler's List, a sense of total arbitrariness over who lives (few) and who dies (many) pervades the movie. Szpilman narrowly escapes deportation because a Jewish policeman he vaguely knows separates him from his family as they board the train to Treblinka. Numerous selfless and selfish people help him survive, but most of the time, he's on the run or imprisoned in some nameless apartment somewhere in the city. The movie succeeds in being both intensely personal and almost blank at the same time: rather than a heroic figure who takes conscious decision to direct his fate, Szpilman could almost be called lucky as he keeps surviving one ordeal after the other. He is simulatenously anybody and somebody.

Posted by cronopio at 01:35 PM, November 02, 2005