Sunday, 24 May 2015


“Sometimes even music can’t substitute for tears.” – Paul Simon

Think of this situation: One evening you are sitting in your dining room and enjoying a delicious dinner with your family. The radio is playing some light music, there is laughter and pleasant conversation, all is warm and cosy. Isn’t this a blessed situation to be in, enjoying family life, peace, contentment?

Then there is an announcement on the radio. Because of your surname (or colour of your skin, or religion, or whom you voted for last election - or take your pick of whatever unreasonable “reason”) you are told that you have 24 hours to vacate your home, taking with you only one suitcase with your belongings. You are to present yourself at an internment facility where an uncertain future awaits you. Possibly you will be split away from your family, you could be forced into hard labour or even put to death…

Can most of us even imagine this scenario happening to us, in our cushy, protected and wonderfully democratic first world environments? (and a glance down my friends list here on Google confirms that I am addressing a first world audience for the major part). “Can’t happen…”, you say. And yet it did, it does and will keep on happening unfortunately.

Yesterday we watched Roman Polanski’s highly acclaimed film “The Pianist” (2002). It is a harrowing film based on the life of a brilliant pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman a Polish Jew, who has written an autobiographical account of his experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII. He witnesses first-hand the atrocities of the Nazis in the Polish capital. As his family is rounded up to be shipped off to the Nazi extermination camps, he escapes deportation and eludes capture by living in the ruins of Warsaw. He is helped and hindered in his struggle to survive by some unlikely characters, but overall his message is one of hope despite the devastation that he witnesses.

It is a marvellous account of one man’s struggle to survive, a testament of self-preservation and a reassurance that there are people who are willing to help us selflessly in our hour of need. People whom we consider as friends may drag us down and denounce us, betray us; while at the same time our enemies may stretch out a friendly hand that may save our life in our direst hour. Despite its grim subject matter, this is not a paean to Jewry and the holocaust in aggressive tones, nor is it an all out denunciation of a regime whose excesses are historically documented. It is a film that singles an individual, an anti-hero if ever there was one and his feeble attempt to overcome his fate, an attempt that becomes an all-consuming battle towards the end. His life, being his music, is his only focus and salvation.

This is a film that brings out raw emotion from the viewer, it is one that depresses and uplifts, takes one from the depths of desperation to the highest peaks of hope and elation. The music of the film (mainly Chopin) is exquisite and entirely apt. If you have not seen this film, definitely one to watch!


  1. Excellent film, good review.

  2. Have the DVD...yes excellent movie. The reason the pianist's life was spared by the commandant was because of his immense talent.Some bleeding politically correct heart said this was unfair and sending the wrong message. I read this somewhere a while ago !
    Well if the situation happened today it would never occur, because the commandant would not have the werewithal to discern a musical talent. thanks to our cultural marxist education system which has been a scourge worldwide for years.There is little appreciation or knowledge of high art . Our civilisation celebrates the vacuous, has been reduced to the banal and is in its death throes.