Sunday night, marking Yom Kippur, we watched Polanski’s “The Pianist,” which LF hadn’t seen before. This deeply moving, deeply felt and beautifully rendered film is something everyone should see. If for no other reason, the climactic scene in which Szpilman plays for the Nazi officer.
The additional features on the DVD include a half-hour “making of” section, in which Polanski recounts how many of the incidents in the movie come from his own experience as a young boy in wartime Krakow. His father was sent to a work camp (and survived); his mother didn’t. And he himself was nearly loaded onto a boxcar for deportation. Only by a quickwitted fib to a guard were he and a friend able to escape.
Polanski’s led a life of narrow escapes. He was supposed to be at Sharon Tate’s house the night the Manson people broke in.
Now he’s under arrest in Switzerland for a 31-year-old crime that the victim has publicly forgiven him for, one for which he’d struck a plea bargain that was about to be rescinded when he fled the country. Yes, it was heinous.
If he did nothing else in his life than make that one movie about the Holocaust, with that one scene of a freezing and starving Polish pianist playing Chopin for his very life, is it possible he deserves another narrow escape?