Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Adrien Brody, Emilia Fox, Frank Finlay
Nearly a decade after turning down the chance to direct Schindler’s List, director Roman Polanski released his own Holocaust story. And while it wasn’t exactly an autobiography—the movie is about pianist Władysław Szpilman (played by Adrien Brody), who is forced to live in the Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland—Polanski, who managed to escape from the Kraków Ghetto following the death of his mother as a child, inserted enough personal experience to make it feel that way.
Keeping with his reputation as a director who does not shy away from truth—regardless of how disturbing it may—The Pianist holds nothing back in its depiction of the Holocaust’s extreme atrocities. The camera doesn’t flinch when young children are beaten to death, innocent men and women are gunned down and executed in the streets, piles of dead bodies are set afire and a man in a wheelchair is hurled off a balcony, fatally crashing into the ground below. It’s not an easy watch, but it’s a powerful one.