Review Date: December 23, 2002
Director: Roman Polanski
Writer: Ronald Harwood
Producers: Roman Polanski, Robert Benmussa, Alain Sarde
Adrien Brody as Wladyslaw Szpilman
Daniel Caltagirone as Majorek
Thomas Kretschmann as Captain Wilm Hosenfeld
Unfortunately, the lack of interaction with others is also what distanced this film from its emotional realm. I was hoping to feel much stronger for Brody's character and those around him, but in the end, even though I knew that I had seen a good film, I also recognized that it hadn't really touched me deeply. It was almost like a pragmatic presentation of what went on, but without the emotional ties. This could also have been due to the film's stronger emphasis on Brody's isolation, with the second half of the picture featuring very little dialogue and feeling a lot like CAST AWAY, with Brody scuttling from one spot to another. Having said that, the film still contains plenty of additional reasons to watch, including an original take on sound as a bomb blows up right next to Brody, a number of extremely graphic but memorable killings and an engaging back-and-forth between Brody and a German Nazi soldier, which provides for a unusual perspective. The movie also isn't afraid to show some of its captives in their negative light, with certain Jews needing to work "with" the Germans in order to save themselves, as well as a sequence of rebellion. In the end, we all know that any war or holocaust movie is going to be ugly, but this one does offer an amazing true story of one of the handful of Jewish Poles who survived from the half a million who were in that area around that time (the film is based on Szpilman's own 1946 novel), more on the beginning of the invasion and its measured growth throughout the country, as well as plenty of realism and even some humanity. I don't think this movie offers enough of an emotional angle to reel one in entirely, but it does present a sick sense of the voyeur, as we witness much of the visceral violence and inhumanity that plagued that dark period of our history. "I wish I knew you better."