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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The brutality of the Nazi occupation and subsequent racism, degradation of European Jews, and the Holocaust that followed is shown in graphic detail, a necessary reminder that this must never happen again. In times when humanity as a whole is shown at its worst, there are individuals and groups who stand up to evil and fight it with every means at their disposal. Music, and art as a whole, has the capacity to transcend war and hatred.
Positive Role Models
Wladyslaw endures incredible suffering and degradation as a Jew in Nazi-occupied Warsaw but manages to retain his dignity and sanity to survive. He demonstrates perseverance and courage. The Polish Resistance to Nazi occupation is shown through the actions of the characters who do their best to protect Wladyslaw and hide him from the Nazis and through those who fought back and died in the cause of freedom and liberation.
Violence & Scariness
Graphic violence portraying the onset of the Holocaust. A family watches in horror as Nazis in the building across the street roll a man in a wheelchair onto a balcony and throw him off. A woman is shot in the forehead. Jews are shot in the head while lying down. An injured man lying on a road is run over by a tank. Wartime violence: battles with machine guns, explosions, bombed buildings.
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Uses of "f--k" and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol drinking in restaurants, wine drinking at dinner; no one acts drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Pianist is a 2002 Oscar-winning movie about a young Jewish musician living in Warsaw desperately trying to make sense of the Nazi invasion of his country and the subsequent degradations, the creation of the Warsaw Ghetto, and the madness that led to the Holocaust. There is graphic violence, but unlike so many movies in which violence is shown simply to add surface-level excitement to an otherwise formulaic Hollywood blockbuster, the violence is intended to reveal a glimpse of the real-life horrors European Jews endured at the hands of the Nazis during World War II and to leave audiences with the conviction that atrocities and genocide such as this must never happen again. Nonetheless, the violence is graphic: Men and women are shot in the head for little to no reason, a man in a wheelchair is tossed off a balcony, a man lying injured in the road is run over by a tank. There is also the wartime violence of machine-gun battles, bombed-out cities, explosions, and casualties. Profanity includes "f--k" and "s--t." The movie should inspire thought and discussion on the extremes of evil and good in humankind, the individual acts of heroism undertaken by those whose names will never make the history books, and the transcendent and unifying nature of music and art. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The most effective parts of the movie are the small, vivid, almost unbearably poignant human moments. In one, a family awaiting a transport train that will take them away to a concentration camp combines all their remaining money to buy a single caramel, which they carefully divide into four tiny portions. The Pianist is an intense movie that is best for high school kids and up.
Roman Polanski, himself a survivor of the Holocaust who lost many family members, powerfully conveys the epic journey of a man who is transformed by a series of events from an elegantly dressed, highly cultured musician to a scavenging, debased shell of a human being.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.