The Pianist

Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Roman Polanski's heartfelt and high-minded Holocaust movie - based on the true-life memoir of Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman - arrives garlanded with the Cannes Palme d'Or and a widespread, respectful sense that here is a very substantial work. Seeing it for the first time at the festival I was restive at a certain plodding historical worthiness. A second viewing, however, discloses more than ever just how stunning is the work done by Polanski's cinematographer Pawel Edelman, and also the excellence of Allan Starksi's production design and Christian Kunstler's painterly digital effects. Maybe Ronald Harwood's dialogue is a bit stately and stagy here and there, but that is an allowable by-product of the film's sheer, sustained seriousness.
Gaunt Adrien Brody plays Szpilman, a famous pianist who at the moment of the 1939 Nazi invasion is broadcasting live on Warsaw radio; the studio is blown to pieces - an inspired image for the impingement of life on art. He and his family (Maureen Lipman and Frank Finlay are the querulous parents) are moved into the notorious ghetto. They refuse to join the Jewish ghetto police - collaborators who affect grotesque Hitler moustaches - but Szpilman's celebrity nevertheless allows him to pull strings; he gets his firebrand brother out of detention, gets a work permit for his father and just as his family are loaded on to the cattle trucks headed for Auschwitz, Szpilman is hauled off and allowed back into the devastated city, to fend for himself and deal with his survivor-guilt as best he may.
The scenes Polanski contrives in occupied Warsaw are truly horrifying: the Nazi officers who tip a wheelchair-bound old man off a balcony, the boorish guards who humiliate Jews by making them dance in the streets, the starving man lapping up spilt soup like a dog. It is unwatchably harrowing. And the images of devastation are positively retina-scorching, like surreal canvases by Ernst or Di Chirico.
But the story of Szpilman is the story of escape. He avoids the death camp, so the film does not enter that epicentre of hell; but he is not in the resistance either, so the film does not go inside the great Warsaw Uprising. He spends a lot of his time holed up in safe flats, and, peeking out of the window, has a ringside seat at much military action, but remains strangely marginalised. Szpilman does not even get to play the piano much, and there is not a great deal of insight into his existence as a pianist or an artist.
However, a resolution to these tensions is offered by the climactic confrontation between Szpilman and a Wehrmacht officer. Entranced by Szpilman's performance of Chopin's Ballade No 1 in G minor on a miraculously undamaged piano in the bombed-out house in which he'd been hiding, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann) helps him to survive. This is evidently based on fact, and - who knows? - the scene might make the Chopin Ballade as famous as the Warsaw Concerto from Dangerous Moonlight, another movie about a wartime Polish pianist.
But the neat arrival of a "good German" and the suggestion of a redemptive, humanist equivalence between him and the Jew is tough to take, especially when we've watched such horrific Nazi barbarity. I suppose this is the kind of narrative difficulty that dramatisation entails, and, all in all, Polanski surmounts it very plausibly. The Pianist is a weighty and moving film. A genuine achievement.

barbarity - barbarzyństwo
boorish - gburowaty, prostacki
canvas - płótno; przen: obraz
contrive - wymyślić, stworzyć
detention - areszt
epicentre - epicentrum, środek
equivalence - odpowiedniość
to fend for oneself - zadbać o siebie, dawać sobie radę
firebrand - podżegacz
garlanded - ozdobiony wieńcem, nagrodzony
harrowing - extremely upsetting because connected with suffering, przygnębiające
to haul off - wyciągnąć, wywlec
holed up - ukryty (jak w norze)
impingement - zderzenie, wkroczenie
insight - wgląd, intuicja, celna myśl
to lap up - chłeptać
memoir - pamiętnik, życiorys, wspomnienie
notorious - o złej sławie
peek out - wyjrzeć, zerkać (przez coś), tak by nie zostać zauważonym
plausibly - wiarygodnie, możliwie do przyjęcia
plodding - żmudny, mozolny
redemptive - zbawczy
resistance - ruch oporu, opór
restive - niecierpliwy, uparty
retina-scorching dosł: parzące siatkówkę (oka), rażące, jaskrawe
ringside seat - miejsce obserwacji ringu, trybuny
stagy - teatralny, sztuczny
stately - majestatyczny
to surmount the difficulty - pokonać trudności


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