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72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and Symbolic Film
Unlike the previous reviewer, I have decided to go for the Full Monty and give "The Pianist" a 5 star rating. The film is a biopic of the talented Jewish pianist Wladislaw Szpilman ,set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw throughout World War Two. The full scale of the persecution of the Polish Jews during this period is laid bare, as verbal abuse turned...
Published on 10 Nov 2004 by L. Davidson

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, weak bare bones HD-DVD!!!
The Pianist comes to HD-DVD, bare bones and with a dissapointing transfer.

One word describes the Picture Quality on this disc, LACKING. Whilst it's definately a step up from the DVD (and only margainly better), the picture never feels True HD. I was expecting the usual level of sharpness found on most HD-DVD's, but it had a soft vener over the whole picture,...
Published on 2 Feb 2007 by Alexander Zaloudek


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72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and Symbolic Film, 10 Nov 2004
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pianist [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Unlike the previous reviewer, I have decided to go for the Full Monty and give "The Pianist" a 5 star rating. The film is a biopic of the talented Jewish pianist Wladislaw Szpilman ,set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw throughout World War Two. The full scale of the persecution of the Polish Jews during this period is laid bare, as verbal abuse turned to physical assault, dehumanisation , ghettoisation and ultimately extermination."The Pianist" is the story of Szpilman's personal experience of these times as he is thrown from the cosseted surroundings of his prime time slot playing Chopin on Polish Rundfunk into the grim surroundings of the Warsaw ghetto with all its deprivation,uncertainty and terror.As he gets separated from his family and friends, a primeval and astonishing lust for survival consumes Szpilman as he faces all manners of peril."The Pianist" is a gripping film from beginning to end with Adrien Brody playing Szpilman with great skill and emotion as chaos and confusion engulf his well ordered life. It is as harrowing, but not as graphic as "Schindlers List" , but it captures perfectly the demonic nature of the Nazis and the sense of dread and terror that surrounded their occupation. However I rated "The Pianist" so highly because of the thread of metaphysical symbolism that ran through it. Szpilman and his music were the corporeal expression of the human spirit, perhaps even of the Holy Spirit, surrounded by an almost supernatural hate, forced into hiding , stalked by terror, but never extinguished.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Examination of the Strength of the Human Spirit, 16 Feb 2006
By 
Poldy "Paul" (Darwen, Lancashire) - See all my reviews
The Pianist is Wladislaw Szpilman, a young man from a Jewish family who works as a musician in Warsaw. The early part of the film shows that increasing tension as the Nazi menace spreads ever closer, until the invasion finally happens. At this point, Szpilman loses his recording opportunities, and has to take up a job in a restaurant, playing tunes to diners who aren’t listening. Day by day the degradation grows ever worse, with Szpilman’s father (Frank Finlay) being forced to walk in the gutter, and other mistreatment of increasingly desperate Jews. The Warsaw ghetto is set up, with able-bodied men and women forced to work in degrading positions, until the ghetto is cleared and everyone is sent off to the camps. Szpilman himself is spared by an old friend, now a Jewish policeman (basically a collaborator), who tells him to get away. The young man manages to find shelter in a variety of safe houses, until the end of the war.
The film is far less harrowing than Schindler’s List, though infinitely better in every way. The underlying theme is the strength of the human spirit in the face of terrible adversity, which keeps a kind of optimism in the mind of the viewer. Allied to this is the knowledge that the film is based on a true story, as Szpilman survived as a professional pianist until his death in 2000. Watching this film is to see just how strong and determined some people can be. Director Polanski also went through a similar experience, though in a different ghetto, and also lost most of his family to the death camps. The extras include an excellent behind the scenes documentary, looking at the lives of both Polanski and Szpilman, and this really brings home the true terror and evil of the Nazi’s acts.
Adrian Brody, just short of thirty, gives a magnificent performance, calm and restrained, frequently bewildered by the events going on all around him, but always strong and determined to survive. The supporting actors are also on fine form, and for a true look at life under the Nazi regime, this film is a must.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only sixty years ago..., 1 Sep 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
At the beginning of World War II, about four hundred thousand Jews lived in Warsaw, where they represented one-third of the population. By the end of the war, fewer than twenty-five of them had survived. Director Roman Polanski tells the story of one of these men, focusing on how the various atrocities of the Holocaust affected him. In this sense the film is dramatically different from previous Holocaust films, since it does not attempt to give the "big picture," nor does it show how a family or small group of friends supported each other, emotionally, during the war (as does Anne Frank's Diary). Instead, it focuses on how one artist, a pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), survived starvation and death for five years, becoming increasingly more isolated, both emotionally and physically, and increasingly helpless to act, even on his own behalf.
Ronald Harwood's screenplay begins with a broad picture of the life of an artistic Jewish family of some means, but as the Nazis issue directive after directive, the family must abandon, first, its possessions, then its home, then its neighborhood, and eventually each other. This increasingly narrow, inward focus to the film develops extraordinary tension. Once he escapes from the line of prisoners bound for Treblinka, Szpilman is completely alone, dependent on the help of others--including sympathetic Gentiles who jeopardize their own lives to hide and feed him--and he never knows from day to day if he will survive starvation, illness, and the cold. Eventually, late in the war, a German reservist, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann), finds him hiding in an attic, asks him to play Chopin for him, and eventually brings him food for several weeks, until the Russians arrive and take the Germans themselves prisoner.
Scene after scene tears the viewer apart in this harrowing film, as Szpilman, brilliantly played by Brody, faces one degradation after another by those who refuse to recognize the common humanity among people. The devastated streets and bleak hiding places, utterly devoid of any human touch, are all filmed with sharp contrasts of light and dark, visually emphasizing the "aloneness" of Szpilman in Pawel Edelman's stunning cinematography. The music by Wojciech Kilar furthers the mood without intruding, while the music Szpilman plays by Chopin (Polish) and Beethoven (German) further emphasize the horror of the present. Showing through the eyes of one man, a pianist, the most heart-rending inhumanity mankind has ever witnessed, Polanski's film leaves the viewer numb with horror. Mary Whipple
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life-Changing Film?, 14 Jun 2005
By 
The Pianist is one of those films that you watch and for some time afterwards there is an ache as you remember the horror and sadness suffered by those portrayed. This could and should be a life-changing film but we too often forget as the ache wears off. This is a terrible waste. Watch this film and do not let the memories fade - in fact, buy it and watch it frequently. If there is one good way for us to realise what we have in life it is to see such films as this.
Adrien Brody goes way beyond a performance and the film way beyond a movie. It is a masterpiece. I will never forget it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a film!, 10 Aug 2005
This review is from: The Pianist [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This film from Roman Polanski is one of the best factual based films I have ever watched. It tells the story of one man (Adrian Brody)and his fight to survive the war against the Germans. There are some horrifying moments in the film, but what makes it worse is the fact that these moments actually happened in real life. Brody plays the part beautifully, and as long as you are not the sort of viewer that surface watches a film, you will feel as though you are there with him as he gets ripped from his family in order to live. It has an outstanding cast including Maureen Lipman and scenery is spectacular. Not for the faint hearted, but if you appreciate a brilliant film, give this a go...Roman Polanski at his best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An honest account, deserves to be seen., 31 July 2004
By 
John Williams (Apeldoorn, Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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I've just seen this film rather belatedly, having been inspired to do so after reading the book on which it it based, and also Norman Davies' history of the Warsaw Rising - 'Rising 44'.
The film is a worthy attempt to be true to the book and to history. Those who criticize it for a lack of overt emotion or heroism should read the book(s). Polanski, within the constraints of making a commercially viable film, has tried hard to portray not just the factual account of the book but also its emotional content, or lack of it. Spilman is not a conventional hero. We do not see him rallying the resistance movements, standing up to the Nazis, winning the girl and riding off into the sunset. There are no fictions in which all Jews are virtuous and in which heroes and villains get their just deserts. Spilman's story is one of dependence on others for most of the time, and his (ultimately triumphant) instinct for survival often leads him to stay put and do nothing rather than to seek adventures amidst the battles for Warsaw. (Norman Davies complains that the film conflates the Ghetto Rising of 1943 with the Warsaw Rising of 1944, but I did not find this to be the case.)
The obvious comparison is with 'Schindler's List'. This is a lower key film in every respect. The horror is less horrific. It is less emotional, less lyrical and less expansive. The battle and crowd scenes are none too convincing, perhaps due to budgetary constraints. And the passage of long periods time is not conveyed to well, though how Polanski could have done justice to this is beyone me. But 'The Pianist' has its moments. The scenes in which Spilman first emerges from his hiding place into the ruins of a totally destroyed Warsaw, and in which he first meets and plays the piano for his German saviour Wilm Hosenfeld are unforgettable.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pianist (Roman Polanski, France, 2002) - Blu-ray Edition, 6 Oct 2010
Specifications:-

Case Type - Book style case with removable booklet.

Disc - 50GB, MPEG-4 AVC encoded, Region B Locked.

Video - 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio in a 16:9 frame, Colour, 1080p/24fps

Audio - Original English/German Master Audio DTS-HD 5.1. Dubbed French and Italian Master Audio DTS-HD 5.1

Subtitles - Optional Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish. English Subtitles appear as mandatory during German dialogue when the original audio is selected (apparently this was a problem on the previous vanilla Blu-ray disc release).

Supplements -

'A story of survival: behind the scene of the pianist' Documentary (40 mins. 1.85:1 letterbox in 4:3 frame).
Interview with writer Ronald Harwood (20 mins).
Interview with Andrzej Szpilzman (30 mins).
Interview with Daniel Szpilzman (2 mins).
Theatrical Trailer.

All supplements in Standard Definition.

Censorship? - No cuts or censorship have been applied to this film. The BBFC passed the film without cuts with a 15 certficate. The film contains disturbing and graphic wartime violence, and infrequent strong bad language (towards the end of the film).

This is not an easy film to sit through. Roman Polanski and his crew of filmmakers have created a powerful, upsetting and yet optimistic account of Wladyslaw Szpilman's experiences during the holocaust. Every detail of authenticity is shown in the sets, costumes and props. At the 2003 Academy Awards the film was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Editing and Best Picture. It won (Deservedly) Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Best Director -Roman Polanksi and best Leading Actor - Adrien Brody.

The picture quality is not going to blow you away nor could it be used as demo material (ie: to show off your new HD set up to family and friends), however it is quite competent. There is no edge enhancement or at least i didn't notice any and i didn't see any signs of digital tinkering like DNR. Grain is noticable in numerous scenes, and the blacks are very deep. Early in the film it appears a little hazy, but this is most likely intentional. Compared to the dvd edition, the skins tones and colours look far more realistic and you can see more of a texture on the costumes.
There are only a few scenes which will make use of ones surround sound system, but the audio does a very good job of adding realism to the film (Gun shots sound very disturbing), and the dialogue is very clear too.
The main supplementary material is the excellent 'A Story of Survival' documentary. This features interviews with actor Adrien Brody (who more or less became a recluse for the role), and director Roman Polanski who recollects his own experiences (some of which are used in the film). The documentary also includes archive footage of the holocaust and also briefly an elderly Wladyslaw Szpilman performing in concert. The interviews are a welcome addition and are informative. This is a matter of quality rather than quantity.

An exceptional film and one of the best holocaust dramas (better than 'Schindler's List'?) made with masterful direction and brilliant acting - just be warned that there are a few upsetting scenes. This is the best release currently available and i can strongly recommend this edition for anyone to add to their collection. Make sure you get the 'Studio Canal Collection' edition though and not the previous vanilla disc release.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely moving and realistic film, 31 Dec 2004
This review is from: The Pianist [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This version and the 2 disc special edition are excellent - an extremely moving film - brilliantly acted and a very emotional watch. It makes the whole thing seem so real and so completely retchid and horrific to realise that this is real. It's based on a true story, written by Wladyslaw Szpilman, the pianist in this film, and the director lived through World War II, so it's authenticity can't be doubted. My only issue is that the DVD editions on amazon.co.uk are both 143 minutes in run time, whereas the original film when it was on the cinema was 150 minutes - the DVD edition has cut out 7 minutes of footage where the pianist's family were in the concentration camp and additional footage at the end concerning their wellbeing - these bits were all the more moving, and it is a real shame that they are missing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unblemished Symphony, 22 Jan 2006
By 
This review is from: The Pianist [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
One of those little-known stories that surfaces from time to time and leaves us wondering how it had never previously come to light. An immensely moving portrait of survival against the odds, with commendable emphasis on the humanitarian element, as well as the enemy's capacity to compromise when brain finally overcomes brawn. Arguably Polanski's finest film ever, with towering performances from Adrien Brody and Thomas Kretschmann. Should anyone question why we still make films about the 2nd World War and the Holocaust in particular, advise them to see this. When the audience rises to acclaim Szpilman's virtuoso performance over the closing credits, it is hugely tempting to stand with them and applaud this cinematic jewel. How many more tales like this await discovery by a reputable director? Priceless.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the most disturbing film i've ever seen., 26 Aug 2004
forget all those movies that really try very hard to be disturbing. nothing beats real world experience.
this movie presents the plight of the jewish population during this period, in a much more heart wrenching way than any movie about the death camps could. they really were lambs to the slaughter in the ghettos, and were treated 100% as sub-human. absolutely horrendous
Brody plays this absolutely on the button. i'm sure many actors would have tried to overplay it, but he really allows the chaos around him to take centre stage. he doesn't amble through it by any means, but he seems to depict a kind of serenity throughout. it is quite beautiful to watch
the camerawork in this movie is incredibly engaging. a through the keyhole look at the outside world, which really captures the terrible claustrophobia that jewish people must have felt at that time.
some great sound in this movie also, the scene which draws your attention the most is when the tank shells the building occupied by Szpilman and his ear drums are blown out leaving them screaming
really, i can't say enough good things about this film. i wouldn't call it an enjoyable experience, but it is a rewarding one. and it needs to be watched to remind people how very lucky we are generally in the modern day.
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