Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Pianist (Book)

There is probably not much to be gained by reading Wladyslaw Szpilman’s The Pianist, which was made into a fine film by Roman Polanski.  The film closely follows Szpilman’s account, and lacks the sense of confirmed drama and action of the movie.  It is not that Polanski takes elements that are not in the book, it is just that he is far better at visually producing them then Szpilman is at verbally creating them (to be fair, Szpilman was not a professional writer.)

Perhaps most interesting in the most recent editions of the book are the selected passages from the diary of Wilm Hosenfeld, the German officer who helped Szpilman near the end of the war, and probably saved his life.  In the film he appears as a good guy with little other motivation than hearing Szpilman play, and being moved to save him and his talent.   

In this book, selections of his diary are provided, showing a man of deep compassion and Catholic morality, who was appalled by the excesses of the Nazi regime.  He helped those imperiled by the Nazis when he could, including Szpilman, and was eventually declared a "righteous among the nations" at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem.

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