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The Pianst, Scene 15 (technical, Thematic, and Personal)

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The Pianst, Scene 15 (technical, Thematic, and Personal)

Term Paper - The Pianist, Scene 15

Works that are a tribute to the will to live always touch our

emotions in a unique way and Roman Polanski's The Pianist definitely

strikes a chord with sentiment. I had originally imagined that a film

adapted from a memoir may have taken liberties in converting the

written work to script and in creating historical accuracy. However, I

was proven wrong as I watched Polanski's vivid directorship of this

war film about music. The Pianist is a good-history Shoah film that is

very humanizing and shows total war, compassion for the enemy, and

even heroism. And although it wasn't listed among the forms of war

films, I believe more than anything that this film is about survival

and the powerful will to live. In Polanski's own words, "The Pianist

is a testimony to the power of music, the will to live, and the

courage to stand against evil."

And so, interestingly enough, the movie centers around an aspect that

is very unusual for the war film genre: music. When Wladyslaw

Szpilman, played by Adrien Brody, loses everything, the only thing he

has left to live for and hold on to is his passion for music. It is a

passion that he will hold on to for some six years while separated

from a piano until at last beckoned onto one by the Wehrmacht officer

Wilhelm Hosenfeld, played by Thomas Kretschmann.

This scene, in which the yet-unnamed German officer is finally seen,

begins during a frigid night with Szpilman looking for a can opener

around the house in which he is hiding. As the scene begins, Szpilman

enters from the left and the camera pans right and tilts down and up,

following him; there is no score, only silence and footsteps. He is

shown off-center to the right in a level shot at a medium close-up as

he fumbles with a can. But the can is dropped and rolls away and, from

Szpilman's POV, the camera tilts up to follow it rolling. The camera

then continues to tilt up revealing and centering on, from the boots

up, a German in a power shot at medium close-up.

Cutting the awkward silence, the German calmly begins to interrogate

the Jew and the camera cuts to a counter shot of Szpilman, who is on

the left-side of the axis of action. In his reaction shot, Szpilman is

shot off-center to the left in a level shot at medium range; the

camera perspective is from the left side of the German's waist, where

just his pistol is visible. Dialogue continues and fast cutting is

used to cutaway and cutback between Szpilman's response and reactions

and the German's questions, respectively. In the cutbacks, the German

is shot centered in a power shot at a medium close-up. As the dialogue

ends, the German walks off the screen to the right and is also seen

walking away from Szpilman's reaction shot angle.

A lengthy take then beings with a long shot first showing the German

continuing to the right towards a door as the camera pans right,

following him. At the German's beckoning, Szpilman hobbles in from the

left creating a two shot. Maintaining the axis of action they turn

through the door, entering a room with a piano where a dolly shot is

employed. The dolly pulls in and everything

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