The Pianist is a 2002 biographical war film directed by Roman Polanski, starring Adrien Brody. It is an adaptation of the autobiography of the same name by Jewish-Polish musician Władysław Szpilman. The film is a co-production between Poland, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
The film was awarded the Palme d’Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival,[1] BAFTA Award for Best Film, BAFTA Award for Best Direction in 2003 and seven French Césars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Brody.
At the 75th Academy Awards, The Pianist won Best Adapted Screenplay (Ronald Harwood), Best Director (Polanski), and Best Actor (Brody). The film was also nominated for four other awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Directed by Roman Polanski
Produced by Roman Polanski
Robert Benmussa
Alain Sarde
Gene Gutowski
Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
Based on The Pianist by
Władysław Szpilman
Starring Adrien Brody
Thomas Kretschmann
Frank Finlay
Maureen Lipman
Emilia Fox
Michał Żebrowski
Music by Wojciech Kilar
Frederic Chopin
Cinematography Paweł Edelman
Editing by Hervé de Luze Studio
Studio Canal+
Canal+ Studio Babelsberg
Distributed by Focus Features
Universal Studios
Release date(s) 24 May 2002 (Cannes)
6 September 2002 (Poland)
27 December 2002 (US)
6 March 2003 (UK)
Running time 150 minutes
Country France
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $35 million
Gross revenue $120,072,577

Władysław Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a famous Polish Jewish pianist working for Warsaw Radio, sees his whole world collapse with the outbreak of World War II and the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. After the radio station is rocked by explosions from German bombing, Szpilman goes home and learns that the United Kingdom and France have declared war on Nazi Germany. He and his family rejoice, believing the war will end quickly.
When the German Army enters Warsaw, living conditions for the Jewish population gradually deteriorate as their rights are slowly eroded: first they are allowed only a limited amount of money per family, then they must wear armbands imprinted with the blue Star of David to identify themselves, and eventually, in November 1940, they are all forced into the squalid Warsaw Ghetto. There, they face hunger, persecution and humiliation from the SS and the ever-present fear of death, torture and starvation. The Nazis become increasingly sadistic and the family witnesses many horrors inflicted on other Jews. In one scene, a group of Einsatzgruppen, led by an NCO, go into the apartment across from the Szpilmans. They order the family on the top floor to stand, then when an elderly man in a wheelchair is unable to comply, the SS throw him off the balcony. The rest of the family are then taken out into the street and shot, and the SS drive off, running over the bodies along the way.

Before long, the family, along with thousands of others, are rounded up as part of Operation Reinhard for deportation to the extermination facility at Treblinka. As the Jews are being forced onto rail cars, Szpilman is saved at the last moment by one of the Jewish Ghetto Police, who happens to be a family friend. Separated from his family and loved ones, Szpilman manages to survive. At first he is pressed into a German reconstruction unit inside the ghetto as a slave labourer. During this period, another Jewish labourer confides to Szpilman two critical pieces of information: one, that many Jews who still survive know of the German plans to exterminate them, and two, that a Jewish uprising against the Germans is being actively prepared for. Szpilman volunteers his help for the plan. He is enlisted to help smuggle weapons into the ghetto, almost being caught at one point.
Later, before the uprising starts, Szpilman decides to go into hiding outside the ghetto, relying on the help of non-Jews who still remember him such as an ex-coworker of his from the radio station. While living in hiding, he witnesses many horrors committed by the SS, such as widespread killing, beating and burning of Jews and others (the burning is mostly shown during the two Warsaw uprisings). In 1943, Szpilman also finally witnesses the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising he helped to bring about, and its aftermath as the SS forcibly enters the ghetto and kills nearly all the remaining insurgents. A year goes by and life in Warsaw further deteriorates. Szpilman is forced to flee his first hiding place after a neighbor discovers he is hiding there. In his second hiding place, near a German military hospital, he is shown into a room with a piano and then told to be as quiet as possible. Here, he nearly dies from jaundice and malnutrition.

In August 1944, the Polish resistance mounts the Warsaw Uprising against the German occupation. Szpilman witnesses the Polish insurgents fighting the Germans outside his window. Again, Szpilman narrowly escapes death when a German tank shells the apartment he is hiding in. Warsaw is virtually razed and depopulated as a result of the fighting (see Aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising). After the surviving Warsaw population is deported from the city ruins and the escape of German SS from the approaching Soviet Army, Szpilman is left entirely alone. In buildings still standing, he searches desperately for food. While trying to open a can of Polish pickles, Szpilman is discovered by a captain of the Wehrmacht, Wilm Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann). Upon questioning Szpilman and discovering that he is a pianist, Hosenfeld asks Szpilman to play something for him on the grand piano that happens to be in the building. The decrepit Szpilman, still a pianist prodigy, plays an amazing piece that impresses Hosenfeld.
Hosenfeld lets Szpilman continue hiding in the attic of the building and even brings him food regularly, thus saving his life. Another few weeks go by, and the German troops are forced to withdraw from Warsaw due to the advance of Red Army troops. Before leaving the area, Hosenfeld asks Szpilman what his name is, and, upon hearing it, remarks that it is apt for a pianist (Szpilman being the Polish rendering of the German Spielmann, meaning “man who plays”). Hosenfeld also promises to listen for Szpilman on Polish Radio. He gives Szpilman his Wehrmacht uniform greatcoat and leaves. Later, that coat is almost fatal for Szpilman when Polish troops, liberating the ruins of Warsaw, take him for a German officer and shoot at him. He is eventually able to convince them that he is Polish, and they stop shooting.

As newly freed prisoners of a concentration camp pass a fenced-in enclosure of German prisoners of war sitting on the ground and guarded by Soviet soldiers, they start collectively verbally abusing the prisoners, with one tirading that he used to be a violinist. A visibly beaten Hosenfeld, a shadow of his former once proud demeanor, comes up to the fence asks the violinist if he is familiar with Szpilman, which the violinist confirms. Hosenfeld states that he helped him in hiding and asks if Szpilmann can return the favor. Szpilman, now playing live on Warsaw Radio, is visited by the violinist in the studio, who takes him to the site with all the prisoners having been removed along with any trace of the stockade. In the film’s final scene, Szpilman triumphantly performs Chopin’s Grand Polonaise brillante in E flat major to a large audience in Warsaw. Title cards shown just before the end credits reveal that Szpilman continued to live in Warsaw and died in 2000, but that Hosenfeld died in 1952 in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp.

Principal photography on The Pianist began on February 9, 2001 in Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam, Germany. The Warsaw Ghetto and the surrounding city were recreated on the backlot of Babelsberg Studios as they would have looked during the war. Old Soviet army barracks were used to create the ruined city, as they were going to be destroyed anyway.
The first scenes of the film were shot at the old army barracks. Soon after, the filmmakers moved to a villa in Potsdam, which served as the house where Szpilman meets Hosenfeld. On March 2, 2001, filming then moved to an abandoned Soviet army hospital in Beelitz, Germany. The scenes that featured the Germans destroying the hospital with flame throwers were filmed here. On March 15, filming finally moved to Babelsberg Studios. The first scene shot at the studio was the scene in which Szpilman witnesses a resistance mounted by the Jews from the Ghetto, which is eventually ended by the Nazis. The scene was complex and technically demanding as it involved various stunts and explosives. Filming at the studios ended on 26 March and moved to Warsaw on 29 March. The rundown district of Praga was chosen for filming because of its abundance of original buildings. The art department built onto these original buildings, re-creating World War II–era Poland with signs and posters from the period. Additional filming also took place around Warsaw. The Umschlagplatz scene where Szpilman, his family and hundreds of other Jews wait to be taken to the extermination camps was filmed at the National Defence University in Warsaw.
Principal photography ended in July 2001, and was followed by months of post-production, which took place in Paris, France.

Further information: The Pianist (soundtrack)
The piano piece heard at the beginning of the film is Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor Lento con gran espressione, Op. posth.
The piano piece that is heard being played a next door neighbour while Szpilman was in hiding at an apartment was Chopin’s Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4.
The piano music heard in the abandoned house when Szpilman had just discovered a hiding place in the attic was the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. It would later be revealed that German officer Hosenfeld was the pianist. The German composition juxtaposed with the mainly Polish/Chopin selection of Szpilman.
The piano piece played when Szpilman is confronted by Hosenfeld is Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23. Also, the version played in the movie was shortened. The entire piece lasts 9–10 minutes.
The cello piece heard at the middle of the film, played by Dorota, is the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1.
The piano piece heard at the end of the film, played with an orchestra, is Chopin’s Grande Polonaise brillante, Op. 22.
Shots of Szpilman’s hands playing the piano in close-up were provided by Polish classical pianist Janusz Olejniczak (b. 1952), who also performed on the soundtrack.
Since Polanski wanted the film to be as realistic as possible, any scene showing Brody playing was actually his playing voiced over by recordings provided by Janusz Olejniczak. In order for Brody’s playing to look like it was at the level of Władysław Szpilman’s, he spent many months prior to and during the filming practicing so that his keystrokes on the piano would convince viewers that Brody himself was playing. It was never specified whether or not it was actually Adrien Brody playing at certain points in the film, such as the beginning where Władysław Szpilman’s playing is interrupted by German bombing.

Awards and nominations
Academy Award for Best Actor – Adrien Brody
Academy Award for Best Director – Roman Polanski
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay – Ronald Harwood
Palme d’Or, 2002 Cannes Film Festival[1]
BAFTA Award for Best Film
BAFTA Award for Best Direction – Roman Polanski
César Award for Best Actor
César Award for Best Director
César Award for Best Film
César Award for Best Music Written for a Film
César Award for Best Cinematography
César Award for Best Production Design
César Award for Best Sound
Goya Award for Best European Film
Academy Award for Best Cinematography – Paweł Edelman
Academy Award for Best Costume Design – Anna B. Sheppard
Academy Award for Film Editing – Hervé de Luze
Academy Award for Best Picture
BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography – Paweł Edelman
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role – Adrien Brody
BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay – Ronald Harwood
BAFTA Award for Best Sound – Jean-Marie Blondel, Dean Humphreys, Gérard Hardy