Festival de Cannes 70: The Pianist, 2002

A sunny shout-out to 70 winners at the Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the 70th event which is just around the corner – in no particular order.

Victims of war portrayed on film are always going to be relevant, and Roman Polanski‘s effort is one of the more outstanding executions of the subject in decades. In The Pianist, Adrien Brody’s Wladyslaw Szpilman ventures through the harrowing and brutal obstacle course of war-torn Warsaw. Shocking, heart-breaking scenes grab you by the throat. That, or you are forced instead to anticipate a horrible event – of which you had no desire to imagine in the first place. This is not a wholly gratuitous film document of war, more a gritty, grounded depiction of the struggles, anguish and unknown future that surround Szpilman and those around him. He is something of a passive presence, of course he never asked for any of this, but tries his damned-est to survive it. And his likely reflects thousands of other stories of a similar dreadful nature. Given the timing of the war in Iraq in 2003, Adrien Brody said some very touching words about the horrors of war and quest for peace when he won the Best Actor Oscar for The Pianist. He was the surprise win of that year, but you have to look back now and wonder how he was not the spoken front-runner. Even though Polanski won Best Director, AMPAS still criminally felt that Chicago was the better film. Palme d’Or trumps Oscar yet again.

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