With the Holocaust as its subject matter, comparisons between The Pianist and Steven Spielberg’s classic 1993 film, Schindler's List, were inevitable. Yet despite the similarities in their stories, each relates the tragedy in an entirely different manner.
Both films successfully recreate the horrific conditions of the ghettoes, yet The Pianist goes beyond the horror, providing us with details of everyday life in the Ghetto, where Jewish prisoners did the best they could to carry on with their lives under the most miserable of circumstances. Szpilman (played excellently by Adrian Brody) even manages to find work as a musician, playing piano for patrons at a Jews-only restaurant, occasionally pausing so that black marketeers can carry out business transactions at a nearby table. Where Schindler's List masterfully captured the horror, The Pianist provides the determination, the will to carry on and maintain a sense of dignity, even as all shreds of it are being systematically stripped away.
Director Roman Polanski, who as a boy in Nazi-occupied Poland witnessed the deportation of his mother to Auschwitz, constructed The Pianist from the viewpoint of a survivor, giving us more than a mere documentation of a human tragedy. The Pianist captures the desire to endure, a desire that Polanski himself could certainly relate to.
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