Summary And Review Of The Pianist By Roman Polanski


Roman Polanski’s movie the Pianist undertakes the heart wrenching autobiography of a radio station pianist’s survival named as Wladyslaw Szpilman during WWII. The movie starts off as Szpilman plays piano in during a radio session as suddenly the studio meets a bomb explosion; an intrusion of the Nazi soldiers. Wlaydslaw heads home and sees that his family is packing their belongings but soon enough hey find out that England and France had declared war on Germany so they decided to stay back in Warsaw.

The movie takes a turn when the Nazi regime passed a law that all the Jews must wear an armband in order to be identified as Jews while they are out in the open; in the streets. The movie further projects some absurd yet violent scenes where the Nazis begin to kill and harass the Jews mercilessly such as asking the Jewish to run for their lives and initiating open fire as they did, forcefully getting into the house of the Jewish families and throwing off an old man (physically paralyzed) from the third floor of the building etc. before transferring them to the wall ghetto that was built within Warsaw. Szpilman’s brother named Henrik gets arrested by the Jewish police who were working with the Nazis but Wlaydslaw figures out to get him out of that mess.

Then the Szpilman family are ordered to pack their things and are taken to a station along with the other Jews where they are supposed to be taken away to Nazi camps. When the crowded groups of Jews are boarding onto the trains to be taken away, Szpilman is saved by that same Jewish policeman who freed his brother Henrik and tells Szpilman to run for his life. This was the part that distressed most of the audience since it was the last time Szpilman got to see his family and he knew that he would never be able to see them again.

Shortly after, the family is packed together and taken to a station, where they must wait to be taken away to Nazi camps. Just before he boards, Szpilman gets rescued by the Jewish policeman that set his brother free, who tells him to make a run for it. This is the last time Szpilman sees his family.

Szpilman hides outside the ghetto and strives for food while taking help from others in order to keep himself alive. After finding help and living in an apartment in utter silence Szpilman had to run away when he breaks some plates causing disturbance and coming into the eyes of the people living nearby; the neighbor that demands to see his papers when he created disturbance. Later on, he flees to a safe house and settles down in his own flat by one of his prior acquaintance. Remarkably executed Adrien Brody (who played Wladyslaw Szpilman) projects the downfall of a healthy man into weak and feeble creature as the supplies such as food water etc. come slowly and less in amount. The building where he lives is bombed, he tries to escape the Nazi by keeping himself away from the sight of the Nazi in a bombed hospital. Completely desperate with hunger and ill because of his health issues he tries to survive by finding something to eat that might make him feel full as it had been an ample time since he had a good meal. Later on, he takes refuge in the attic of an abandoned building. Now there is nothing remained in the city but the ruins that the war caused. Szpilman in the building ironically finds a piano that he wants to play so badly but dares not to.

The movie unfolds the scene as it comes to an end, where he is found by a German office known as Hosenfeld by accident who gets to know Szpilman’s passion for piano and asks him to play the piano for him. Seeing his absolutely beautiful mastery of piano playing, Hosenfeld brings him food and keep him alive. Before heading forward and leaving Warsaw, Hosenfeld gives Szpilman his coat to keep him warm while he waits for the forces. When the forces arrive they inspect Szpilman. Although nearly kill him, later on, they realize that he is not German.

The movie comes to an end where Szpilman survives and remains in Warsaw as a professional pianist till his death at the age of 88 in 2000.


“The pianist” happens to be the most heart-breaking yet realistic movie made in the year 2002. The autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman played by Adrien Brody, a marvelous actor brilliantly portrays the heart breaking survival of Szpilman during WWII. It is sensed/observed in the movie that Szpilman seems to be the man that is passionate towards his love for the piano, is a good human being and further has been seen assuring others that everything will work out eventually. The director of the movie, Roam Polanski was himself a survivor during the holocaust as his father saved him as he pushed him over a barbed wire of a camp. His own survival story and that of his father are similar to Szpilman’s story.

The movie reflects upon certain in-depth elements, hard to ignore that were beautifully projected through the movie such as the dead bodies lying on the floor in the movie depicted the element of horror and bloodshed that the Jews faced by the hands of the Nazis. The rubbles of the ceiling and the walls of the station does not shake Szpilman’s passion for continuing to play the piano even when an explosion occurs depicts his utmost passion for piano playing. The sharing of a piece of caramel by the Szpilman family is a highly emotional scene where the family shares a small piece of caramel candy together symbolizes the true love and care of the family that they hold for each other. As the movie holds emotional scenes that full of love and care, the movie also reflects upon the bitter side of the reality. The traumas that Szpilman faces when he is separated from his family while he is saved by a Jewish policeman and his family is sent off to a Nazi camp really shaken the heart of the viewers. Moreover, the reality of how one needs to do anything that is needed to be done just in order to survive, to live, to breathe, to watch the sun rise everyday really makes one appreciate the things life. Szpilman is not projects as a hero or a fighter, instead he is shown as a survivor who beard the most traumatizing events for the sake of survival and in the end actually did and living on doing what he was most passionate about; playing piano. The sense of passion and determinism cannot be ignored in the movie as seen in the movie where Szpilman silently pretends to play a piano as he is hiding away from the Nazi soldiers in an apartment. Beautifully displayed, the scene immensely reflects his love for piano and how amazing he is at playing it. Szpilman’s love for piano again puts one in wonder as to how one is so completely infused in a form of art.

The lesson taken from this marvelous piece of art directed by Roman Polanski is that survival is never easy and many may never be able to make it to the other side of the end. However, one’s passion, love, determinism may assist him/her in surviving for something he/she believes in. The Pianist (2002) is an excellent depiction of survival for passion. In contrast to Schindler’s list that projected the story of a survivor that involved a man that tries to deliberately frustrate the Holocaust whereas Polanski knew, being a survivor that one’s fate and chance is an imperative factor in the lives of survive. By showing the survival of Szpilman that how he does whatever it takes to survive for what he loved and because of the fact that he simply wanted to live; with the help of good fate and kindness of other people, Polanski is reflecting his own survival journey and his deepest feelings such as losing a loved one (his mother) and the endless struggle for survival. The movie as a whole is an emotional and depressing projection of a survivor who had to go through immense trouble and trauma in order to stay alive.

To sum up, the lesson perceived from the movie is perhaps to live through the bitter realities that may stop by in one’s life in order to survive. There may be many traumas in life that may shake us to the core but one must learn to survive because if one doesn’t, they simply die. The direction of Roman Polanski is a remarkable attempt to describe the story of a survival during WWII. Thus, the masterpiece that it is, The Pianist is an excellent story of a survivor who what I think survived life’s most traumatizing evens just so he could do that one thing that kept him alive from within; being an incredible pianist.

16 August 2021
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