The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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“Pianist” picks up key awards at Oscars

A tall, thin man sits at a piano in a radio station and plays music as if it was what he was born to do. Bombs start to sound in the background, but the man keeps playing. It isn’t until a bomb hits the radio station itself that he takes his fingers away from the ivory keys.

Think this sounds think a fictional story? It’s not. It’s from one of the most powerful true Holocaust stories to ever make its way to the silver screen.

“The Pianist,” which was released in select cities on Dec. 27, 2002 and nationwide on Jan. 3, is based on the book of the same name by Wladyslaw Szpilman. Szpilman was a well-known pianist in Warsaw as World War II and the Holocaust were just beginning. His story is one of survival, courage and loss. This is a truly amazing tale of how one man managed to make it through one of the most horrifying events in the history of the world.

Director Roman Polanski, who is best known for works such as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown,” brought this novel to film. And, it is obvious that he knew what he was doing, as can be seen by the outcome of the Academy Awards. Polanski was awarded the Oscar for directing and Ronald Harwood won for writing of an adapted screenplay.

They weren’t the only ones to feel the love at the 2003 Oscars. Adrien Brody took home the Oscar for best actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Szpilman. Brody certainly deserved winning an award for this performance.

During many scenes in the movie, Szpilman is alone and in hiding. Brody had to convey a great deal of emotions through his body language and facial expressions. Even without the assistance of words, any viewer can still tell what he is going through at any point in the film. Brody’s performance was extremely memorable and made the film the great work of art that it is.

In one scene of the film, after having his hiding place discovered by a German officer, Szpilman is forced to play the piano in order to save his life. As the camera closes in on his hands, one is forced to think that this is an impossible task. He has gone too long without playing and his hands look as if they’d be of no use. Szpilman sits down and the music comes back to him and sounds just like it did when he played in the radio station. This could possibly be one of the most moving scenes in the entire movie.

Although it is a film worth seeing, “The Pianist” is also a difficult film to watch. Sometimes the hardest thing to see is reality. This film fully illustrates the pain and terror that the Nazis caused the victims to go through. There are many parts of the movie that will force you to cover your eyes, jump a little in your seat or just make your heart beat faster.

As any person watches the movie, they can’t help but care for the characters and hope for their survival. All of the actors did realistic portrayals of their real-life counterparts.

“The Pianist” is a film that, no doubt, many critics will have at the top of their lists for the best movies of 2003. It’s a powerful film with a touching and inspirational story. It’s just one of the movies that you have to see, even if the subject matter doesn’t interest you very much. There are some stories that everyone should know about.

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