HomeMoviesThe Pianist: The True Story Behind Roman Polański’s Film

The Pianist: The True Story Behind Roman Polański’s Film

The Pianist: The True Story Behind Roman Polański’s Film


Throughout his career the Polish director Roman Polanski he has made works of different genres that have now entered the history of cinema by right, from horror Rosemary’s Baby – Red Ribbon in New York to noir Chinatown, from the thriller The tenant of the third floor up to the costume drama Thess. His most personal film, however, is without a doubt The pianist, made in 2002, historical drama that retraces a true story with several elements in common with the life of Polański himself. With this film, which definitively consecrated him both in Europe and in the United States, he tells of the deportation of the Jews during the Second World War.

To do this he relies on the history of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jewish pianist who actually lived in those years, who found himself able to count only on music as a means of survival, both physical and spiritual. What is narrated in the film is based on Szpilman’s autobiography with the same title. In it Polański found much of his personal experience: he too survived a Polish ghetto and concentration camps where his family lost their lives instead. Moved by the desire to face that trauma, the director thus created what is still today considered one of his most beautiful, important and poignant films.

Awarded the Palme d’Or al Cannes Film Festival and then at the Oscars, where Polański won the Best Director award, The pianist therefore retraces one of the darkest pages in the history of humanity with a rare sensitivity and taste for staging. Before embarking on a vision of the film, however, it will certainly be useful to delve into some of the main curiosities related to it. Continuing here in the reading it will in fact be possible to find further details relating to the plotto the cast of actors and to true story behind the movie. Finally, the main ones will also be listed streaming platforms containing the film in their catalogue.

The plot and the cast of The pianist

The story begins in Warsaw in 1939. Germany has just declared war on Poland and what will become the Second World War thus begins. In that context, Wladyslaw Szpilman he is a prodigious young Jewish pianist whose life is dramatically turned upside down by this event, similar to that of all other Jews. In fact, with the occupation of Warsaw, individual and collective freedom were definitively banned. The young Szpilman finds himself exiled together with his family and all the Jews of the city in a Ghetto. Yet, he will not let himself be crushed by adversity and will try to fight to the last for his freedom. In this, music will prove to be a precious ally.

For the role of Wladyslaw SzpilmanPolański met over a thousand actors but only one very young man Adrien Brody was convincing in his eyes, thus obtaining the part. In order to connect with the feeling of loss needed to play Wladyslaw Szpilman, Brody moved out of his apartment, sold his car and stopped watching television. In addition, he lost 14 kg and learned to play the piano. Thanks to his intense interpretation, Brody went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, becoming at the age of 29 the youngest to obtain recognition in that category. To play the captain Wilm Hosenfeldwho will play a crucial role in the story of Szpilman, there is instead the actor Thomas Kretschmann.


The real story behind The pianist

As anticipated, the one told in The pianist it is a true story not only from the point of view of the context but also for the main characters. In particular, this is the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, born on December 5, 1911 into a Jewish family of musicians. While his father was a violinist, his mother played the piano instead and it is this second instrument that Szpilman decides to learn to play. He thus took his first piano lessons with his mother, knowing that this choice would save his life in the future. In fact, Szpilman decided to pursue his passion, obtaining a scholarship from 1931 to 1933 at the Berlin Academy of Arts.

In 1935, Wladyslaw Szpilman became the pianist of the Polish State Radio in Warsaw, playing classical works and jazz. He played here until 1 September 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland and set in motion the events of WWII. The Germans then forced Polish state radio to shut down and the last live broadcast people could hear before the German occupation was Szpilman’s execution of the Nocturne in C sharp minor by Chopin. Wladyslaw Szpilman and his family were later placed in the Warsaw Ghetto, the largest of all the Jewish ghettos established by the Nazis during World War II.

The extremely cramped ghetto imprisoned over 400,000 Jews and provided minimal food rations. Periodically there were deportations, with which some Jews were transferred to concentration camps. Despite this, Szpilman continued to play and to support his family, he worked as a pianist in a café called Café Nowaczesna. However, the summer of 1942 was the beginning of large-scale deportations to concentration and extermination camps. Although they managed to stay safe for a while, Szpilman and his family were eventually ordered to be deported to Treblinka, a death camp in Poland.


At the time of being deported, however, a member of the Jewish Ghetto police recognized Szpilman from one of his concerts and took him away before he boarded the train. Although he was saved, Szpilman had to watch his parents, brother and two sisters being shipped to Treblinka, where none of them would survive. Szpilman remained in the film ghetto until February 13, 1943, when he managed to escape. A period of wandering begins for him, which will lead him to meet a German officer, Wilm Hosenfeldwho after discovering his piano skills asked him to play a piece by Chopin for him.

Subsequently, Hosenfeld continued to keep Szpilan under wraps. He periodically brought him bread and jam and left him a German military overcoat so he wouldn’t suffer from the cold. The Germans were then defeated in 1945. Wladyslaw Szpilman had survived the war but did not learn the name of the officer who aided him until 1950. Wilm Hosenfeld was later convicted of alleged war crimes and sentenced to 25 years labor forced. Hosenfeld reportedly saved other Jews during the war. The officer later died in 1952 in a Soviet prison camp. Szpilman, however, continued to devote his life to music until his death on July 6, 2000.

The trailer of The pianist and where to watch the film in streaming and on TV

You can enjoy The pianist thanks to its presence on some of the most popular streaming platforms on the net today. This is in fact available in the catalogs of Rakuten TV, Google Play, Apple TV and Amazon Prime Videos. To see it, once the reference platform has been chosen, it will be enough to rent the single film or subscribe to a general subscription. In this way you will be able to watch it in total comfort and at the best video quality. The film is also present in the television schedule of Monday 8 May at 21:00 On the canal Iris.

Source: IMDb, Allthatsinteresting