Pianist, The - Summary

There was a moment when Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) knew that his family was doomed. It happened after someone flung him from the line of people waiting for a train in Warsaw.

 “Go on, save yourself,” a policeman said, as the rest of Szpilman’s family remained inside the cordoned area. Wladyslaw, a concert pianist, did as directed. He never saw his loved ones again.

As chaos descended upon Warsaw, it was difficult for the city’s remaining inhabitants to survive. As retreating German soldiers entered the city, fleeing from a quickly advancing Soviet army, hiding places for the Jewish pianist were almost nonexistent.

Starving now, he had endured the torment (then destruction) of the Warsaw Ghetto. With none of his friends left to help, only his will kept him going. Then he met a German Wehrmacht officer, Wilm Hosenfeld (Thomas Kretschmann).

A former teacher who had grown ashamed of Hitler’s policies, Hosenfeld had the power to end Szpilman’s life. Instead, he protected and helped him. Those acts of kindness were enough for the pianist to survive the war.

Although he never talked about his struggle with the family he later had, Szpilman wrote a book (in 1946) about his unbelievable experiences. The Soviet-controlled government in Poland banned it, but Wladyslaw kept a copy. One day, fifty years later, his son found the book and had it republished. It’s current name? The Pianist. Roman Polanski directed its Oscar-winning film version.

In this story behind the movie, meet Wladyslaw Szpilman and watch his performance of Rachmaninov’s Concerto in C Minor (the song Radio Warsaw was broadcasting when German bombs began to fall on the city). Take a virtual trip to Warsaw and view the city (and the ghetto) as it appeared before (and after) the Hitler-ordered invasion and occupation.

Explore the information Wilm Hosenfeld’s family provided for this story, and meet the real man whose kindnesses saved the pianist’s life.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Aug 16, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Pianist, The" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2003. Feb 28, 2020.
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