The Pianist Questions and Answers
by Wladyslaw Szpilman

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In reviewing the film The Pianist, critic Roger Ebert compared the film's director, Roman Polanski, with the film's subject, Wladyslaw Szpilman.  What was the basis of that comparison?

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In his January 2003 review of Roman Polanski’s film The Piano, Roger Ebert emphasized the relationship of the director to his subject.  Based upon his 1946 memoir of surviving the Holocaust purely as a matter of luck and chance, Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew, watched as his book was denied distribution by the Communist regime that took power after the defeat of Germany.  Szpilman’s memoir was only finally released to the public following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the establishment of democratic governments in Eastern Europe.

In reviewing the 2003 film that was adapted from Szpilman’s autobiography, Ebert noted the similarities between the film’s subject, Szpilman, and its director, Roman Polanski.  Both are Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust, during which their families were murdered, purely as a matter of chance.  As he wrote in his review of the film,

“Polanski himself is a Holocaust survivor, saved at one point when his father pushed him through...

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