"The Pianist" is based on the extraordinary events of Polish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman's life.
This has finally given Roman Polanski the chance to distil his own experiences of Jewish persecution during WWII in this deeply personal and astonishing directorial turn.
Focusing very much on the personal journey of Szpilman (Adrien Brody), events begin to unfold in 1938 as bombs drop on Warsaw during his piano recital for a radio station.
As the Nazi occupation begins to take hold, Szpilman and his family endure humiliation and violation of their rights. They are soon forced into a walled ghetto along with the rest of the city's Jewish community.
A lucky chance escape separates Szpilman from his family and, as the ghetto's occupants forced onto trains bound for concentration camps, he becomes a fugitive. Living in terror and isolation, he evades capture and tries to stay alive...
Polanski's elegant film takes a classical, and rather methodical, approach to structure and style.
He depicts the brutalities and dehumanising experiences that Szpilman endured without making him a hero. Szpilman is an observer who experiences the atrocities (as we do) through the windows of various hideouts.
Rendered in harrowing detail, without completely demonising every German character, "The Pianist" rivals "Schindler's List" in terms of detailing the experiences of Jews during WWII. And in terms of production design, it must also be one of the most accurately rendered.
In an understated and tremendously powerful performance, Adrien Brody undergoes a dramatic transformation in his physical appearance.
He displays an emotional range that's capable of expressing Szpilman's emotions through little dialogue. Brody's performance is simply astounding.
While "The Pianist" is very much a return to form for Polanski, it's most memorable as a showcase for Brody's superb talent.