The Pianist Roman Polanski

The Pianist Roman Polanski
Before WWII, there were 360,000 Jews living in Warsaw. At the height of the "Warsaw Ghetto," the area of the city where the Jews were walled-in, that number rose to half a million. By war's end, there were 20 — one of whom was the young Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrian Brody). Another survivor of the Polish holocaust, albeit in the Krakow ghetto, was The Pianist director Roman Polanski. His personal experience helps trump films like Spielberg's Schindler's List, which, despite its plaudits, was too "Hollywood" to properly convey the banality of evil. The genius of the film lies in not going to the death camps, enabling Polanski to catalogue the smaller evils committed. Petty humiliations, such as forcing Jews to trudge through the gutter, forcing scared senior citizens to dance in the street for Nazi amusement and the violence committed by terrified Jewish collaborators are nearly as powerful as the random homicides and "re-settlement" scenes. When Polanski does bring in the sympathetic German officer — who, awed by Szpilman's playing, provides food and even the coat off his back — he keeps him as minor as the Polish and Jewish dissidents whose small contributions kept Szpilman alive. Polanski definitely deserved his Oscar, but so did Brody, whose performance is realistically numb. The Pianist is not about melodramatic red coats in a black and white world, it's about how music can help us survive just about any experience, even genocide. The DVD comes with a soundtrack and special features disc. While the "making of" featurette is informative and less self-aggrandising than most, the Q&A with Polanski, and a Warsaw ghetto history are text-only. A fully fleshed-out interview with the director and/or a documentary on the ghetto would've placed the film in an even darker context. Extras: "A Story of Survival" featurette; director's note; Q&A with Roman Polanksi; the Warsaw ghetto: historical background; Wladyslaw Szpilman bio; TV spots; trailers; filmographies; Sony Classical CD soundtrack. (TVA)