Polish Film Festival: The Pianist

film reelThe Polish Film Festival series continues with the Academy Award-winning film, “The Pianist,” at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10, at the Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Ave. The film will be viewed and reviewed with radio announcer Dan Kane.

This 2002 film is a historical drama directed by Roman Polanski. Scripted by Ronald Harwood and starring Adrien Brody, the film is based on the autobiographical World War II memoir, “The Pianist,” by a Polish-Jewish pianist and composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, and is a co-production between the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Poland.

The film starts with Szpilman playing on radio in Warsaw when the station is bombed in 1939, and follows Szpilman, along with his family, as he is forced from his home into the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940 by the Nazis.

The family is deported to Treblinka extermination camp in 1942, but Szpilman survives thanks to a friend’s intervention and instead becomes a slave laborer where he helped smuggle weapons into the ghetto as part of a future Jewish revolt. Eventually he manages to escape and go into hiding.

In 1943 he observes the revolt fail and is forced into a second hiding place – a room with a piano. He cannot play, however, because he must remain quiet. The following year he finds himself in search of yet another hiding place and is discovered by a German officer in an empty house. When the officer learns he is a pianist, Szpilman is asked to play on a grand piano in the house. He plays Chopin’s Ballade in G minor, and the officer is so moved that he allows Szpilman to hide in the attic.

As the Germans are forced to retreat in 1945, the officer meets Szpilman for the last time and promises to listen to him on Polish Radio after the war. Shortly after, however, the officer is captured and held in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp, and despite pleas to Szpilman to return the favor and help release him, Szpilman does not make it to the camp in time.

Szpilman resumed his career and died at the age of 88 in 2000, while the German officer died in captivity in 1952.

The film received significant critical praise and multiple awards such as the Palme d’Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and the BAFTA Award for Best Film and BAFTA Award for Best Direction in 2003. In addition, “The Pianist” won Oscars for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor at the 75th Academy Awards.

Oak Park Arms Senior Living is a rental retirement community which provides senior housing in the form of independent living. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information call 708-386-4040.