Roman Polanski’s controversy began long before the accomplished director embarked on a project to adapt Szpilman’s story. Although he had worked continuously, for better or for worse, “The Pianist” marked a comeback.
When The Pianist was released, the director had been a refugee from the United States for over twenty years. In 1977, Polanski was charged with six counts of criminal conduct (including rape) against a 13-year-old; After pleading not guilty, Polanski agreed to a plea bargain (he pleaded guilty only to “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor”), believing the result would be time served and probation. When Polanski learned the judge planned to flout the plea deal and sentence Polanski to decades in prison, he fled — and has lived mostly in France ever since, avoiding countries he was brought back to the US and facing extradition as a Frenchman could be protected citizens.
Although he had almost certainly made his best films (“Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown”) before fleeing the United States, Polanski had managed to remain relevant and successful, and credited names like Johnny Depp, Hugh Grant, and Harrison Ford for such Win movies like Frantic, Bitter Moon and The Ninth Gate.
Aside from the uncomfortable nature of his ongoing legal woes, the director was an apt choice to helm The Pianist due to his personal connection to the subject matter. Polanski was himself a survivor of the Nazi invasion of Poland during World War II. Still a small child at the time, he found safety with a Polish farmer, despite losing his mother and barely surviving his father. As such, the director put a lot of himself into The Pianist.
“Polanski said in conversation about his own experiences that his mother’s death in the gas chambers remains so painful that only his own death can bring it to a conclusion,” wrote Roger Ebert in his review. “By showing Szpilman as a survivor but not a fighter or a hero – as a man who would do anything to save himself but would have died without much luck and the kindness of a few gentiles – Polanski reflects, I believe, on his own deepest Feelings: that he survived but didn’t have to, and that his mother died leaving a wound that never healed.
Continuing to invest in himself, Polanski played a hidden role in the film, doing voiceover work for the character Jurek. Additionally, the film marked the first credited performance by the director’s daughter, Morgane Polanski.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, help is available to help. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact the RAINN National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
https://www.looper.com/1064627/details-about-the-pianist-that-will-make-fans-love-the-film-more/ Details about the pianist that will make fans love the movie more