FILM RECOMMENDATION

Film: THE PIANIST

Where you can find it: Netflix for free, Amazon prime £2.49 (to rent), iTunes £3.49 (to rent), Google Play £2.49 (to rent).

Running time: 2h 28 min

Certification: 15

Synopsis: This moving and haunting story of survival is based on concert pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman's memoirs. Escaping deportation, the musician is left behind in the Warsaw ghetto and forced to hide in empty flats to evade capture while scavenging for food.

(From Prime Video synopsis)


Discussion Points (Questions and Answers)

  1. What were your initial reactions to the film?
  2. Consider both pros and cons of the film and any questions that the film raised that you would like to explore in more detail.
  1. 2How much can we expect to learn about Szpilman through this film? How much can we expect to learn about the Holocaust through films in general?
  2. Remember, this film is based on real life events, but be mindful that films will naturally truncate and dramatise reality. Can a film really show what it was like during the Holocaust?
  1. What does the film tell us about life in the Warsaw ghetto?
  2. Consider themes of resistance and inequality within the ghetto. You could do some research into director Roman Polanski’s own time in the Krakow ghetto and pass this onto your audience, asking how they think this impacted his telling of this story.
  1. What is the role of music in the film?
  2. How does Szpilman’s career as a pianist affect his experience during the Holocaust? How does the music affect your response to the film?
  1. How is Hosenfeld portrayed? What does this mean for our understanding of the Holocaust?
  2. Consider traditional narratives of perpetrators and rescuers. Does this challenge our thinking in any way?
  1. How can we consider the film and the story it tells in light of this year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day, One Day?
  2. Were there any singular days that particularly affected the lives of the people depicted? What did Szpilman envision his life would be like One Day after the Holocaust? What does the theme mean to you in terms of remembrance?
  1. Overall, is this a useful source to learn about the Holocaust?
    1. Yes – What makes it useful? What are the positives of using this film as a source?
    2. No – Why is it not useful? What are the negatives of using this film as a source?

Spend time reflecting on the film and addressing any questions that may have been raised by others throughout the course of the discussion.

For guidance on how to use The Pianist for your own film night and discussion, we recommend you watch our Education Officer Ben Fuller talk about The Pianist at HET’s own film club: The Pianist - #HETFilmClub Episode Three - YouTube.


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