I went to a preview of the new Polanski film, “The Pianist” yesterday. The Pianist was adapted by U.K. playwright/screenwriter Ronald Harwood (The Dresser) from the autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who detailed his survival during World War II. A composer and pianist, he played the last live music heard over Polish radio airwaves before Nazi artillery hit. During the brutal occupation he eluded deportation and remained in the devastated Warsaw ghetto. There, he struggled to stay alive even when driven apart from those he loved. He would eventually reclaim his artistic gifts, and confront his fears, with aid from the unlikeliest of sources.
It’s a great movie… a truly great movie. I hadn’t known, until I read some biographical information that Polanski had grown up in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw under Nazi occupation, although Polanski stresses the film is in no way biographical. He concedes, however, that his upbringing has informed the work. The film is well acted, beautiful shot, thoughtful, and at times, briefly, it’s also amusing. But it’s emotionally gut-wrenching without playing with your emotions. The film doesn’t need to; the story is so strong. There was only one occasion when I found the film unconvincing… not because of the plot… but because it just didn’t “look align=”right”.
On the way out, two young recent film school graduates, now writing for “Revolver”, commented that it was “emotional porn”, and likened it to a Denzel Washington movie. What fucking idiots. I shot them a death stare which shut them up.
It’s a great movie.