The Pianist is the truly moving story of a Jewish man named Wladyslaw Szpilman living in Poland during World War II. He, like most other Jews, experienced the wrath of the angry Germans who had recently lost World War I, and chose to blame the people of the Jewish faith for their loss. Like other Jews, he wore an armband showing his shameful status. He was spat at, mocked, kicked, abused, and hated by all who were anti-Jewish. Along with everyone else who lived under the rule of Adolf Hitler, whether they supported him or not, he suffered. There was one distinct quality that Wladyslaw had that separated him from the average person. He had an amazing gift for playing the piano. He could effortlessly let his fingers dance across the keys, making beautiful sounds that could bring enlightenment to all who heard him. He was widely known, and admired for his talent.
As he suffered through losing his home, friends, family, peace of mind, safety, health, and sanity, he never lost his spirit to play. He longed to hear the piano again and to experience the joy he felt in playing, a joy that had vanished along with everything else. He was forced to move from place to place, living in secret to survive, and to remain completely silent so that no one knew he was there.
In the last place he stayed, there was a beautiful grand piano, just like the one he used to play. Despite the unbearable temptation to sit and play once more, he knew that he must be silent. When a German officer, Wilm Hosenfeld, discovered Wladyslaw, he did not kill him. Instead he asked him a series of questions, one of which was, “What do you do?” Wladyslaw answered, “I am a pianist.” Hosenfeld told him to play, so he sat at the bench and for the first time in so long his heart sang through his fingertips. He played and played. So beautifully he played, absorbed in what he was doing without another care in the world.
When he finished the officer stood and simply and quickly left. Wladyslaw returned to the room where he was hiding, and waited, sure the officer would return with his men. Instead Hosenfeld was so impressed with Wladyslaw’s skill, he was moved to be kind to him. Over the next few days, as the Russians were moving in to end the war, Hosenfeld fed and clothed Wladyslaw, and was very kind to him. When the day came for the German army to leave, Hosenfeld paid one last visit to the pianist. They exchanged names and thanks, and then Hosenfeld gave him some food and left.
The Russians piled in quickly and effectively rounded up the Germans including Hosenfeld. Wladyslaw returned to his old life, though little of it was the same, and began to play for the radio again. He received news that Hosenfeld had been put in a prison camp, but when Wladyslaw arrived where the camp was said to be, there was no sign it had ever been there. It is believed that Hosenfeld died at the prison.
I was amazed by this story. It is very powerful and it makes a strong point that we are all human beings. We are all men and women, and the only race is the human race. We all have something beautiful to offer one another. I highly recommend this film.