Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Pianist

In a Nutshell: A good movie, but not as powerful (or as gruesome) as Schindler's List.

Quick Plot: The story of Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman and his survival as a Jew in the Warsaw Ghettos during World War II.

In Detail: This movie did manage to hold my interest for it's entire 2.5 hours, despite not really having a "story" per se. And in this case (unlike Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life), I think that's okay. The style was done that way for a reason; it is more of a "fly on the wall" approach here, simply telling each major event as it occurred, without need of a coherent narrative. Makes you feel more like you are experiencing it with him. This film is also unique in that it does not really have a hero. Szpilman did not organize the resistance (though he did help some), he did not hide people or help save anyone else, he didn't mount a daring rescue of his family; he simply existed and tried to survive. That alone took courage, but he is not a hero in the typical (or should I say stereotypical) film sense.

Adrien Brody did an excellent job, I must say, but I didn't see any of the other Best Actor Oscar performances, so I am unable to comment on whether or not he deserved it. As far as European WWII stories go, Schindler's List is both better and worse: better in that there is more of a cohesive narrative and story, and I found it both powerful and moving; worse in that it is much more graphic, traumatic, and difficult to watch. To its credit, The Pianist manages to effectively portray the violence and hatred without much gore and with surprisingly little blood given the atrocities shown. Still hard to watch, but not nearly as gut-wrenching for me as Schindler. Bottom line: The Pianist is a good movie to see once, but I don't think I would like to see it again.

Will I Buy It? No.