"The Pianist" is an award-winning 2002 bio flick of a real-life artist who miraculously survived the Holocaust. While it’s a heart-wrenching tale of survival, it’s also a good story to tell us how the human spirit triumphs over adversities. Test your knowledge of the movie with this quiz.
Warsaw, Poland is the primary setting of "The Pianist." It follows the protagonist from 1939 until several years into the war.
Adrien Brody was only 29 years old when he won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in "The Pianist." He can play serious and comedic roles.
Aside from playing concert halls and composing music, Szpilman also earns a decent living playing live music over Polish radio. His music reached out to all classes of society, hence his popularity.
Germany was already waging World War II against parts of Europe, and Poland was on the brink of it. Szpilman and his family listened closely to news about this development, as they will be affected because they’re Jews.
Szpilman was suddenly interrupted with his scheduled piano playing when the radio station was bombed. No one was hurt badly, and he made his way out.
When news that Great Britain and France had already declared war on Nazi Germany, the Polish people were relieved. There might be salvation for European Jews, after all. Might.
The Szpilman patriarch was lamenting where they could possible hide a family watch and some money when times get rougher. It was a source of sudden tension for all.
Social segregation was the first war-related activity to manifest in Poland. No Jews were allowed in restaurants, especially those owned by non-Jews.
All Jews were required to wear arm bands depicting the blue Star of David. This helped to easily identify — and segregate — them from the crowd.
Just to have some money to bring with them, Wladyslaw allowed the family to sell their piano.
Selling books on the streets doesn’t seem like a lucrative trade, but the Szpilman brothers did it nonetheless. It didn’t bring them much luck, though.
Recruiting for the Jewish police, a friend of the Szpilman family approached the men in the family and explained how they wouldl be safer if they serve under the Nazis who controlled them. But the Szpilmans didn't want anything to do with it..
Szpilman secured decent wages by playing piano inside a restaurant. While the Warsaw Ghetto faced harsh realities, there were still some people there who held their realities with rose-colored glasses, like the diners.
A friend told him that “musicians don’t make good conspirators” but Szpilman started helping out the resistance. The newspaper press owner revealed that they hid their resistance newspapers in toilets.
Wladyslaw got word that his brother was picked up on the streets by the Jewish police. He then approached a former friend there, asking for help to release his brother. Luckily, he got it.
Every able-bodied person was required to present an employment certificate, or else they got deported outside of the ghetto. Luckily, the Szpilmans had good friends in the proper places, and got their aging father one.
Wladyslaw’s brother started quoting William Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice" while reading it to pass time. His chosen quote started with "If you prick us, do we not bleed?” which was also about the persecution of the Jews.
Wladyslaw, spotted by his family’s former friend in the Jewish police, got pulled out of the line of Jews who were going inside the freight train carts. In history, that event was to be known as Operation Reinhard, the Nazis' secret plot to ship Warsaw Ghetto Jews to extermination camps. His family died there.
Szpilman got work in construction, carrying bricks on his back. His co-workers, who knew of his reputation as a pianist, pitied him and helped him out.
After Operation Reinhard, which shipped out Szpilman’s family with many Jews out of the ghetto and into extermination camps, only 60,000 Jews were left out of the original 500,000 inhabitants there. He was now left alone to survive.
Szpilman continued to help building the resistance by smuggling guns inside potato or food grain sacks. He nearly got caught doing this.
Things that humans usually take for granted, such as taking a long bath and shaving, are luxuries during war time. Szpilman finally got to enjoy both.
His friends gave Szpilman an apartment near the ghetto wall. They occasionally visited him to deliver food and news.
Sitting on a cushioned sofa seat is another luxury that people take for granted. That’s why when Szpilman sat in one again, it felt like heaven.
The Jewish resistance started on the other side of the wall where Szpilman witnessed it firsthand. The Nazis were taken aback that Jews could fight back like that.
The Gestapo got Szpilman’s friend’s wife, Nina, so he ordered the pianist to leave the apartment for fear his hiding place would be discovered.
Szpilman’s friend advised him to jump out the window to avoid capture by the Nazis. And if he was captured, his friend had poison, ready for him to ingest.
Szpilman’s new hiding place is a German-occupied apartment. To his delight, there was a piano inside that apartment.
With a piano inside the apartment, Szpilman could only pretend to play it with gusto. He plays "air piano” by placing his hands above the keys and pretending to play the music he hears in his mind.
A man who visited Szpilman once in a while introduced himself as the former technician of the radio station where the pianist played. The technician was apparently part of the resistance, and is in awe of the pianist.
Szpilman got jaundice as his body slowly broke down, due to lack of proper nutrition. Lack of water also does this to a body, as evident in the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
Apparently, the former radio technician in awe of Szpilman’s talents used his own talent to scam people and collect money on behalf of Szpilman’s upkeep. The pianist never saw any of that money, and the scammer ran away with his illegal collection.
Szpilman escaped the newly-bombed apartment where he pretended to be dead on the street, to let the Nazis pass. He then proceeded to cross over to the hospital where he tried to hide, until it was also set on fire.
A German Nazi officer found Szpilman in hiding, and encountered his piano-playing prowess in the process. He ended up sparing the pianist’s life, even supplying him secretly with food while he lay hidden in an attic.
Szpilman lived to the age of 88 before dying in his native city of Warsaw. He wrote his memoirs, upon which this film version was based.