Aptly titled, Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" is really about a pianist, namely the Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman whose teachers had been students of Franz Liszt. The movie is based on the book "The Pianist" which was based on his memoirs, discovered his son.
As a pianist, I couldn't wait to see this movie, not only to hear the music but to see the story told from by a pianist. How devastating to have to sell your piano to pay for food! How frustrating to live in hiding with a piano but not be able to play it, for fear of being caught!
Little by little, one by one, Szpilman's freedom is taken away. By luck and coincidence he is saved from random fire and deportation to termination camps. In the end, his piano playing of Chopin's Ballade No. 1 touches the German officer who discovered him in his last hiding place. Perhaps the officer, who had played Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, empathised with this fellow musician. Who knows? Szpilman is saved.
There are moments in the film where the pianist is reminded of better things in life to live for. A song on the radio nextdoor. Someone practising Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. Such moments are truly precious, and the musician deprived of his music is liberated once more.
Before seeing the movie I had often wondered if musicians were just as important to siciety as bankers, accountants, lawyers, and police officers. Their worth is not measured financially but emotionally. Clearly it was the language of music that saved Szpilman.
2 February 2003 Sunday