Wladyslaw Szpilman, Adrien Brody, The Pianist

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The Pianist (2003)
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
Reel Face: Real Face:
Adrien Brody Adrien Brody
Born: April 14,
New York, New
York, USA
Wladyslaw Szpilman Wladyslaw

Born: December
5, 1911
Sosnowiec, Poland
Date of Death:
July 6, 2000
Warszawa, Poland

Thomas Kretschmann Thomas

September 8,
Dessau, East
Wilm Hosenfeld

Wilm Hosenfeld
Born: May 2, 1895
Birthplace: Mackenzell, Hessen-Nassau, Germany
Date of Death:
(Soviet prisoner of
war camp near Stalingrad

"I 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 this movie?
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?
Recently 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 Szpilman's son.

The Pianist book Wladyslaw Szpilman

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.