10. The Pianist

Phew.  Well, can’t tell any jokes about this one.  Serious face.  Let me start by saying that this film is really, really well done.  Acting, mood, suspense, yep it’s all there.

Set before, during and after the setting up and clearance of the Warsaw Ghetto, the main character is brilliantly played by Adrien Brody.


I don’t know if it’s just me, but there were a couple of things that rubbed me up the wrong way on this one.  Portraying Germans in a bad light seemed to override portraying the struggles of the lead characters for much of the early film.  The Holocaust is not one of my favourite areas of study in history (I’d be worried if it was), but nonetheless I have never been of the opinion that maybe the Nazis weren’t all that bad.  Never once has the notion crossed my mind that “ah, well, perhaps it’s just an exaggeration, all that industrial murder and ideological genocide”.  But I got the impression that this film wanted to teach me a thing or two, and show me how it really happened, when in fact I already had no illusions and needed no preaching to on this subject.

A very powerful scene. I'm not sure whether or not we are supposed to feel sorry for the German officer at the end of the film. I mean, it's all very well to help one Jew out at the end, when you know you're about to lose. I bet he didn't save any earlier.

The second thing that puzzled me, and this really has no bearing on the quality of the film, was why is this in the top 100 War films?  Granted it’s set during a war, but I don’t count that as a qualification.  The poor soul who seems to be buffeted around throughout the film is not a participant in it, the only effect the war seems to have on his situation is when it ends and he’s granted freedom.  If I made a documentary about selling ice cream in modern Afghanistan, that wouldn’t make me a war documentarist.

Not only a gifted musician, our protagonist can entertain with Jazz Hands.

Overall a really powerful story, if somewhat depressing and heavy going.  One to watch if you fancy watching some great film-making, less a one for a party.

9/10 as a film.  As a war film, 2/10.


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