The Pianist

Thank God, not me. He wants us to survive. Well, that's what we have to believe.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * * )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * * )

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I wasn't even going to review The Pianist. How much of an insult is it for a guy like me to even attempt to put myself above a movie like this or the subject it portrays. I'm not good enough to even have an opinion of it, even the thoughts in my head insult the intent. These two hours of horror and misery may be one of the most painful moments we can take on film, but you may be a better person with the experience. Though the subject matter is almost more than we can bare, the movie is excellent.

Wladyslaw Szpilman, the polish pianist, walks next to the broken glass topped stone wall that separates the Jewish slums from the rest of Warsaw. He watches one boy crawl through a hole in the wall and run away while another becomes stuck on the way through. The stuck boy begins to scream and we hear either a boot or the butt of a rifle smashing on bone, we can only imagine what the Nazi soldier is doing on the other side. The boy's stops the screams no boy should ever let out. Szpilman pulls him free but he is too late, the boy is dead. This scene stuck with me for over a week after watching The Pianist. What monster could do such a thing, crushing a boy's spine with the butt of a rifle over and over for stealing some bread. Now that I know how horrible people can be, what can I do with the information? After all, such horror still exists in a world. A drunk, extacy high, selfish bitch kept a homeless guy embedded in her windshield for three days, letting him eventually die in her dark stinking garage of wounds that could have been treated. Though little compares to the holocaust, we see a lot of evidence of the hellish intentions of some people every day. Must we see it here too? Is there anything we can do with this knowledge?

That is the question. While The Pianist is an excellent movie, the pain is great. Is the pain necessary? Do we deserve to be put through the pain ourselves? I am glad I saws The Pianist and glad that I won't ever have to see it again. If it teaches us some of the details of life in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation, it has done its job. Some may not ever wish to see this movie, and I can respect that too. We all see enough horror in our life, we don't have to see it for "entertainment" as well. The more I think of this question, the more tied up I become. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. While ignorance of the holocaust is a very dangerous thing, sometimes accepting too much pain is just as damaging.

To attempt to put technical glories on the movie for its cinematography, sound editing, direction, set design, acting, or costumes, is just a further insult. To attempt to glorify this picture's artistic merit is to insult the subject matter all the more. Yes, it has DTS. Yes, it is a 16x9 enhanced picture. Yes, there is a director's commentary. To even state these idiotic bits of technobabble in a review of a movie so disturbing makes my hands grow cold.

I am still not sure I've done any good in reviewing this movie. You may choose to watch it or choose to avoid it and I could not argue against your decision either way. The Pianist is one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. I am forever changed for watching it. Perhaps I have become a better person, or perhaps just one with a little less innocence and a little more misery.