Szpilman is a Polish concernt pianist played by Adrian Brody and the story opens with a glimpse into the pre-Nazi life of Szpilman and his tour of European concert halls. But Szpilman is a Polish Jew and in 1939 he begins to sense that the Nazi occupation of Poland may be a very bad thing for the Jews. His family has differing opinions but soon the divergence in opinions means nothing as Szpilman and his family are routinely rounded up and sent to live in the Jewish ghettos of Poland. Soon Szpilman is forced to abandon the life he knew and begin scrounging out a life in the ghettos. He meets a woman named Dorota, played by Emilia Fox, and the two become fond of each other. But soon Szpilman and his family are shipped off to Nazi work camps and we lose track of them. The movie picks up again several years later and we see Szpilman is still alive and working in a Nazi labor camp. He find a way to escape and tries to hide in the ghettos of Poland. He comes across Dorota but she has married and is pregnant and forces Szpilman back out into the streets. He finds various hiding places and he eventually winds up in an abandoned building with a piano in it. He stays hidden in this building for a while until a German officer finds him. Szpilman fears he may be sent back to the labor camp but the German officer is moved by Szpilman’s piano playing and decides to help Szpilman survive in hiding. When the war ends Szpilman attempts to show his gratitude but the German officer has been captured by the allies and there is nothing Szpilman can do.
The Pianist is a very emotional movie that was nominated for 7 Academy Awards. Winning an Oscar for their work in The Pianist was Adrian Brody who won the Oscar for best actor in a lead role, Ronald Harwood for best writing, and Roman Polanski for best director. To show how deep the wounds still run between Polanski and the United States his name being read as winner for best actor was met with a noticeably mixed reaction. Polanski was obviously not able to attend the ceremony as he would be arrested if he ever set foot in the United States again so Harrison Ford accepted the award for him. It is curious to wonder what Roman Polanski could have accomplished, or at least been accepted for, if he had remained on the right side of the law.