The Pianist

Year: 2002
Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Adrien Brody
The film that made a star out of Adrien Brody after he waited in the wings of stardom for so long despite impressing in films like Summer of Sam and The Thin Red Line, thanks to a very filmable subject and one of history's greatest directors shouting at him through the megaphone.

The movies never get tired of the plight of the Jews in World War II, and just one of the stories - their treatment after the Nazi invasion of Poland, which descends from ostracism to genocide - is the setting for the journey of Polish classical pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (Brody).

After watching things go from bad to worse for their people, the Szpilman family are rounded up for transport to labour and death camps (incredibly in hindsight, most of it happened with the collusion of the Jewish police, a collection of thugs the Nazis assembled to help them do their dirty work).

Wladyslaw gets away, probably only half realizing he'll never see his family again, and embarks on a terrifying period of trying to escape under the radar of the Nazis - slipping away from work gangs with the help of the underground and waiting locked in apartment rooms for months at a time with only sporadic deliveries of food and drink.

He also gets front row seats to some of the turning points of the war; the ghetto uprising, the arrival of pro-Allied terrorists, and when Warsaw is a pile of rubble around him, he holes up in the attic of a bombed out house until he gets help from the most unlikely source.

Heart breaking, brutal and tense, with some of the best-directed sequences of war and battle filmed. Brody's doe eyes and angular face were perfect for the role.

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