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The Pianist: "Art's Ultimate Triumph over Death"

The Pianist
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Wednesday, September 26, 2018
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6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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Prof. Helena Goscilo
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Polish History in Film Masterpieces

Roman Polanski, The Pianist (2002)

"Art's Ultimate Triumph over Death"

The pianist of the film's title is Wladyslaw Szpilman, whose autobiography serves as the basis of Roman Polanski's award-winning screen adaptation. What, according to the film's trajectory, enables a vulnerable Polish Jew to survive the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust? Polanski's answer remains true to Szpilman's autobiography, which illustrates the capacity of art and intuition to overcome the constant threat of death-a perspective at dramatic odds with the treatment of the same theme in the works of two fellow Poles: Jerzy Kosinski's bleak novel, The Painted Bird (1965) and Agnieszka Holland's groundbreaking film, Europa, Europa (1990).

Professor of Slavic at Ohio State University, Helena Goscilo earlier taught for many years at the University of Pittsburgh. At both institutions she chaired the Slavic Department, despite her dislike of administration. She has written extensively on gender and culture in Russia, with an emphasis on the contemporary period. Her publications encompass 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st-century culture, the topics ranging across art, music, film, folklore, graphics, gesture, gender politics, and celebrity studies-approximately 100 articles.

Contact: Paul McLain