Starring Adrien Brody, Emilia Fox
based on the book "The Pianist: The Extraordinary
True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945"
by Wladyslaw Szpilman
Born: April 14,
New York, New
Date of Death:
July 6, 2000
Born: May 2, 1895
Birthplace: Mackenzell, Hessen-Nassau, Germany
Date of Death:
(Soviet prisoner of
war camp near Stalingrad)
just cannot understand how we have been able to commit such
crimes against defenseless civilians, against the Jews.
I ask myself again and again, how is it possible?"
- Wilm Hosenfeld (excerpt from Hosenfeld's diary)
Questioning the Story:
Why was director Roman Polanski so passionate about doing
Roman Polanski's inspiration for doing The Pianist
came from the fact that he himself had been a prisoner of
the Polish ghetto during World War II. He had returned to
Poland from France with his parents just two years before
the second world war began. Both of his parents were taken
to concentration camps, where his mother eventually died.
With the help of his father, who pushed him through the
barbed wire of a camp, Roman escaped the ghetto and traveled
through the Polish countryside where he lived with different
Catholic families. He reunited with his father in 1945.
Why did Szpilman's book go unnoticed for so long?
published in English with the title "The Pianist,"
Wladyslaw Szpilman's harrowing account was first published
in Poland in 1946 under the title "Death of a City."
Until recently, the book had remained largely unnoticed.
Upon its initial publication, the Communists suppressed
it, because, as Wolf Biermann surmises in an Epilogue to
The Pianist, it "contained too many painful
truths about the collaboration of defeated Russians, Poles,
Ukrainians, Latvians and Jews with the German Nazis".
Stalin, at the time of his death in March 1953, had been
assembling a transport for his own eastwards "resettlement"
of the Jews, which could have led to a second Holocaust.
It was only after the dissipation of the Soviet block that
publication became possible thanks to the efforts of Wlayslaw
Did a boy at the train stop at Umschlagsplatz really
sell Wladyslaw Szpilman and his family a single, overpriced
caramel as their last meal together?
Yes. This was Szpilman's last memory of his family together.
In his memoir he said the following, "At one point
a boy made his way through the crowd in our direction with
a box of sweets on a string round his neck. He was selling
them at ridiculous prices, although heaven knows what he
was going to do with the money. Scraping together the last
of our small change, we bought a single cream caramel. Father
divided it into six parts with his penknife. That was our
last meal together."
Wladyslaw Szpilman Interviews and Video:
The videos below offer a look at the real life Wladyslaw Szpilman who passed away in 2000. Watch a Peter Jennings segment that offers an overview of Szpilman and see the other video to watch him play a Chopin piece.
|Peter Jennings Report on Wladyslaw Szpilman|
Originally airing on January 17, 1985 on
ABC, anchorman Peter Jennings introduces a
segment narrated by journalist David
Ensor, who interviews Wladyslaw Szpilman.
The segment also gives an overview about
Szpilman during the course of the war,
from the German invasion in September 1939
to Poland's liberation in January 1945. A
picture of Wilm Hosenfeld, the German
officer who saved him, is also shown.
Courtesy of Szpilman.net.
|The Real Wladyslaw Szpilman Plays Chopin|
Watch and listen to Szpilman play this
beautiful rendition of Nocturne C sharp
minor by F. Chopin. Szpilman played this
piece during the last live broadcast for
Polish Radio on September 23, 1939, just
hours before German bombs started to fall,
destroying the Warsaw Radio power supply.
The broadcast would remain shut down for
six long years.
"I played Chopin's Nocturne in C sharp
minor. The glassy, tinkling sound of the untuned strings rang
through the empty flat and the stairway, floated through the
ruins of the villa on the other side of the street and returned
as a muted, melancholy echo. When I had finished, the silence
seemed even gloomier and more eerie than before. A cat mewed
in the street somewhere. I heard a shot down below outside
the building - a harsh, loud German noise."
Wladyslaw Szpilman, The Pianist
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Photos and History)
PIANIST /***1/2 Movie Review by Roger Ebert
the The Pianist Movie Trailer: