Links between the beginning and ending
In the film The Pianist directed by Roman Polanski, the beginning and ending of the film are linked for the purpose of demonstrating the main character, Wladyslaw Szpilman’s life prior to World War 2 and post World War 2. The links between the beginning and ending also convey the idea that hope transcends human horror and is instrumental to our survival. Polanski used language features such as dialogue, lighting, costume, music and camera work to help convey this purpose. Firstly, Polanski uses the beginning of the film to portray Szpilman’s life prior to World War 2 and to reveal elements of his character.
At the beginning of the film, there is a shot of Szpilman’s hands playing the piano, and the camera slowly reveals his face. He is being recorded playing Nocturne in C sharp minor written by Chopin, a Polish composer, in a Polish radio station. Here Polanski utilises this piece to convey Szpilman’s talent in music. He also introduces this piece to the audience, as it will later become an important motif throughout the film, symbolizing hope for Szpilman and being instrumental to his survival. As he continues to play, bombs exploding getting closer each time. Polanski used the bombing in this scene to establish the conflict of the film, World War 2. The recording men start to panic, in contrast to Szpilman, who, apart from a startle, remains calm and continues to play the piano, ignoring the commotion. It is not until a bomb explodes in the building he is in, shattering the glass close to him, that he begins to evacuate. This further gives insight to Szpilman’s personality, because by refusing to stop playing, it demonstrates his passion and dedication to the piano and his determination to not let the Nazi’s actions take this away from him. As Szpilman hurries down the stairs to evacuate, he briefly meets a woman named Dorota who says, “I came especially to meet you. I love your playing.” Polanski uses dialogue to again demonstrate his personality. This is how the audience first learn that Dorota admires Szpilman as a piano player and how highly he is viewed as a musician. The following scene is in Szpilman’s family home. Polanski uses warm colored lighting such as orange hues to insinuate that the family is happy. Finally, Szpilman’s family members all wear nice, clean clothes and appear well groomed. Polanski’s choice of specific costumes for the family members conveys that Szpilman came from a privileged and wealthy family. Therefore, Polanski used the beginning of the film to develop the character of Szpilman as a talented, dedicated man who is admired by many. This depiction of his character allows the audience to easily sympathize with him later on in the film. Polanski also uses the beginning to portray his life prior to World War 2, as a pianist as well as coming from a privileged family, he is later physically separated from due to the war.
Secondly, Polanski also uses the ending of the film to depict Szpilman’s life post World War 2. At the end of the film, Szpilman is shown playing in a large concert hall in front of thousands. He plays Chopin’s Grande Polonaise Brillante in the key of E flat major. The huge audience demonstrates a sense of accomplishment for Szpilman and the respect his talent deserved. Polanski utilises music to evoke a sense of optimism. The major key in music creates a cheerful and uplifting mood. This is the first piece of music which uses the major tonality, contributing to an overall sense of hope and optimism that the ending gives. In the scene prior to the concert, Polanski reintroduces a strikingly similar scene of Szpilman in the same Polish radio station, recording the exact same piece. The beautiful melancholic melody of the nocturne returns and Polanski purposely uses this sound language feature to jog the audience’s memory, allowing them to recognize the parallel and be reminded of the beginning of the film. Due to this evident connection to the beginning of the film, it creates the false perception that little has changed between Szpilman’s life at the beginning and the ending, and that he has now returned to normality. Despite these parallels, between the beginning and ending, Polanski also uses subtle differences to convey the real message.
Finally, Polanski uses the parallels and differences between the beginning and ending of the film to portray Szpilman’s life and how it has changed as a result of the war. He also conveys the idea that hope transcends human horror and is instrumental to our survival. In the ending, despite the similarity of the scene with Szpilman playing in the Polish radio station, Polanski utilises camera work by shooting this scene from the opposite angle to the scene at the beginning of the film. Here, Polanski also uses costume because Szpilman is no longer wearing the watch he wore in the opening scene. As well as this, another difference is throughout the ending of the film, the audience sees no sign of Szpilman’s family as they saw in the opening scene. All these differences are employed for the purpose that is to portray Szpilman’s life prior to World War 2 and post World War 2. They demonstrate that despite the ending appearing unchanged, as if back to normal, things have in fact changed, and his entire family has gone. Polanski used these differences subtly, however, to emphasize the idea that Szpilman’s life prior war and post-war, hasn’t only changed physically, but the majority of the war’s impact happened internally for Szpilman. Despite everything he has lost and been through, the scene of him playing the piano shows that he hasn’t lost his music. As music plays a big role in the beginning and the ending of the film, it demonstrates Szpilman’s passion. It shows that his passion for music greatly enabled Szpilman to overcome the horrors of the war and remain resilient. In both the beginning and ending of the film, Polanski chose to have no dialogue during the Polish radio station scene and the only sound is the piano music. This lack of dialogue is used to highlight the music, as rather than speaking, Szpilman tells his story through the piano. Music was a symbol of hope for Szpilman, conveying Polanski’s idea that hope transcends human horror, and is instrumental to our survival.
In conclusion, in the film The Pianist by Roman Polanski, the beginning and the ending of the film are linked for the purpose of portraying Szpilman’s life prior to the war and post-war. The beginning and the ending were also linked for the purpose of conveying the idea that hope transcends human horror, and is instrumental to our survival. Polanski used the beginning of the film to reveal Szpilman’s personality as dedicated and talented. He also used the beginning to portray his life before the war as a loved pianist and coming from a privileged family. The ending of the film was used to portray Szpilman’s life after the war, being a successful pianist. The ending was also used to mirror the beginning of the film, drawing the audience back past all the
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In the film The Pianist directed by Roman Polanski, the beginning and ending of the film are linked for the purpose of demonstrating the main character, Wladyslaw Szpilman’s life prior […]