FYI I can't be bothered to keep the spoilers out of this one.
It is, perhaps, all the more moving for the fact that this is a true story: The Pianist is based on the real life Szpilman's memoirs. Some critics have complained about the film's tight focus on Szpilman's experience, claiming that it doesn't achieve the scale of Schindler's List. Well, perhaps it didn't intend to, seeing at the world already had Schindler's List. Instead, director Roman Polanski concentrates on one man's suffering, anchoring the tragedy and, in a way, making it more accessible. When portraying the suffering of a people group it's easy to distance to emotion as it becomes an abstract. When we're involved so personally in one character's trauma, it's inescapable. What's more, Polanski himself has a survivor's story, having escaped the Ghettos during WW2, hiding out for the rest of the war in a farmer's barn. Familiar with the grief and loss which Szpilman narrates in his memoirs, the director's interpretation of the source material has a veracity in itself.
Szpilman survives, just, whilst all those whom he loves are lost: following their desperate struggles to maintain their dignity in the horrors of the Ghetto, his family are taken to Auschwitz. It is Szpilman's fame and luck that see him through. Generally, this film is seen as a portrayal of impassive survival. Szpilman is no hero, nor is he a fighter. For much of the film he is simply hiding, being as quiet as humanly possible and observing the desolation of his life, loved ones and homeland. As such, there is no over-sentimentalisation nor any heavy handed ploys to draw out our tears. Instead, our sorrow is real and heart-felt, and I sobbed like a baby, or rather a woman watching a emotionally harrowing movie.
If you haven't yet seen The Pianist then I severely stress the necessity of your doing so. Only, it might be a good idea to watch it alone as I did, unless you're trying to prove your sensitive side.