When Germany invaded Poland, the Second World War began. For accomplished
pianist Wiadyslaw Szpilman (Brody) and his family, the Nazi's had a different
plan for them and the rest of the Polish Jewish community. Imprisoned in overcrowded
Warsaw ghettos, the Germans started to transfer the elderly, women and children
to labour camps outside of the capital. As this transfer increased, Szpilman
managed to escape and spent the rest of the war trying to evade capture.
Roman Polanski directs a very personnel adaptation of Wiadyslaw
Szpilman's novel about survival during the German occupation of Poland.
Holocaust dramas are filled very emotion and tragedy and this
is no exception. Szpilman's autobiographical novel tells a tale of endurance
and loss during one of the worst periods in human history. This is a story
of personal triumph over supreme adversity, were the will to live and the
power of music can sustain a persons resolve and empower them through even
the bleakest times.
Adrien Brody is a revelation in the movie. He is on screen for
almost the entire movie, which is a mammoth undertaking for an actor who his
best known for small supporting roles in ensemble casts but his shoulders
cope with his huge weight excellently. Brody's transformation from respected
radio and concert pianist to desperate survivor is extraordinary. Changing
both physically, he gets thinner and more emaciated as his plight progress,
and mentally, getting more desperate and scared as the war progresses, Brody
becomes the embodiment of survival under these extreme conditions. This is
a breakout performance that will accelerate his career to more prominent,
larger parts in character driven films.
He has good support from the surrounding cast. There parts
are mostly small and supportive of the story as Szpilman's plight is the main
story arch. Maureen Lipman is good as Szpilman's Mother and Thomas Kretschmann
as Captain Wilm Hosenfeld is another standout performance.
The movie does have its problems. While its portrayal of the
Nazi's treatment of the Polish Jewish community is shown in graphic detail,
it is shown all too much in the second act of the film. There is really no
need to show as many executions as they did, as the audience has got the message
of how brutal German Officers were towards the imprisoned Jews many scenes
earlier. This makes the second act overlong and quite repetitive. I would
have also have like to have seen more of the Polish resistance but this would
have moved the movie away from showing everything from Szpilman's prospective.
Roman Polanski has delivered a Holocaust movie that is both
personal and moving. Polanski's own personal history with the time (He is
a Holocaust survivor), his attention to detail and his gift for storytelling
make the movie harrowing but uplifting story of survival and courage in the
most extreme circumstances.
'A Story of Survival': a specially created
documentary offering the viewer an in-depth look at the production of the
film as well as an intimate insight into Roman Polanski's real-life survival
during World War II, Photo gallery, Filmographies of director Roman Polanski
with stars Adrien Brody and Thomas Kretschmann, International theatrical trailer,
Interactive menu & Scene access
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