The Pianist is a 2002 biographical drama movie co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski, scripted by Ronald Harwood, and starring Adrien Brody. It’s based on the autobiographical book The Pianist, a World War II memoir by the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman. Take a look below for 27 more interesting and fascinating facts about The Pianist.
1. The Pianist was a co-production between France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Poland.
2. The movie was set with significant critical praise, and received multiple awards and nominations.
3. It was awarded the Palme d’Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. At the 75th Academy Awards, The Pianist won Oscars for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor, and was also nominated for four other awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture.
4. The Pianist won the BAFTA Award for Best Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Direction in 2003, and seven French Cesars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Brody.
5. The movie was included in BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.
6. During the shooting of the movie, while scouting locations in Krakow, Roman Polanski met a man who had helped Polanski’s family survive the war.
7. Roman Polanski himself experienced the Holocaust. His parents were sent to two different concentration camps: his father to Mauthausen-Gusen in Austria, where he survived the war, and his mother to Auschwitz, where she was murdered.
8. “Szpilman” is the Polish phonetic spelling of the German word “Spielmann,” meaning bandsman or minstrel, hence Hosenfeld’s remark that it is a, “good name for a pianist.”
9. Adrien Brody became the youngest person to date to win an Academy Award for Best Actor when he won one for The Pianist at the age of 29.
10. This is the first movie ever to receive the Best Film Award at the Cesars with not a single word of French spoken in it.
11. Adrien Brody lost 14 kilograms, or 31 pounds, for the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman by eating a daily diet of two boiled eggs and green tea for breakfast, a little chicken for lunch, and a small piece of fish or chicken with steamed vegetables for dinner over a six week period.
12. In order to connect with the feeling of loss required to play the role, Adrien Brody got rid of his apartment, sold his car, and didn’t watch television.
13. Adrien Brody learned how to play the piano for his role.
14. Director of photography Pawel Edelman slowly drains the color out of all the scenes as the movie progresses to signify the deterioration of the city and of Szpilman himself.
15. The movie was in pre-production when the real Szpilman died.
16. Steven Spielberg originally wanted Roman Polanski to direct Schindler’s List but he found the subject matter too harrowing at the time.
17. Daniel Szpilman, the real grandson of the main character Wladyslaw Szpilman, plays the part of the boy in the ghetto, on the market place and later again on the Umschlagplatz.
18. Both Roman Polanski and Ronald Harwood sat through hours and hours of authentic footage shot by the Germans during the war and were both struck at how orchestrated the footage was, deliberately engineered to produce the most striking effect.
19. Wladyslaw Szpilman’s autobiographical account of his life in the Warsaw Ghetto during the war under the Nazi regime was published shortly after the war ended. However, the Communist government that took over in Poland refused to have it published for many years as it didn’t fully comport with their officially documented version of events.
20. Jurek’s voice is dubbed by Roman Polanski.
21. Proceeds fro the Amsterdam, Netherlands premiere were donated to the Anne Frank House.
22. Production of the movie was stopped and delayed for one day following the death of associate producer Rainer Schaper. The film was dedicated to him.
23. Adrien Brody was convinced that he didn’t have a shot at winning the Best Actor Oscar and told fellow nominee Michael Caine that he hadn’t thought of anything to say because he was sure he wasn’t going to make it up to the podium.
24. Adrien Brody and Marcia Gay Harden are the only actors to win an Oscar without being awarded for the same performance in any of its predecessor awards. Harden wasn’t even nominated for those awards for her performance in Pollock.
25. Ronald Harwood as hired to write the screenplay, largely on the strength of his play “Taking Sides.” Roman Polanski saw the play when it was produced in Paris in 2000. As the play is about music and Nazis, he figured Harwood would be a great fit for the project.
26. The Pianist was Cyril Shaps’ final acting role before his death on January 1, 2003, at the age of 79.
27. The Pianist is the first movie that Roman Polanski has shot in his native Poland since Knife in the Water.