Mad Brad: instrumental roles

While watching The Pianist I found myself struck with a revelation that brought me face to face with the justification of the existence of forces beyond our control.

Adrian Brody portrays a Polish pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, who finds his musical world disrupted by the chaotic crescendo of World War II. He is forced into hiding and is deprived of food and safety. But more importantly to Szpilman, he cannot indulge in what he loves the most.

Towards the end of the film, a German officer discovers his hiding place and asks him to play for him. The officer is so moved by his skill that he offers food to Szpilman, and keeps his existence a secret. Szpilman is able to endure the war, and eventually returns to his post as a pianist.

The movie reminded me of an experience I had in the Summer of 2005. I was an 18-year-old Catholic high school graduate, chain-smoking Lucky Strikes, while trying to decipher a Roman newspaper at a bar in Italy. Sitting next to me was a group of Europeans, and we became connected through the cordial lighting of a cigarette. At the time I spoke horrible Spanish, and I can’t vouch for their expertise

in English. Somehow we made it work. We talked about politics, soccer, women and the world at large, and they bid me good early morning with kisses to my cheeks when we parted ways.

Although our birthplaces were separated by the Atlantic Ocean, we were able to make sense of through simply seeking common ground. I had never met them before, and doubt I will ever see them again, but I will remember them for the rest of my life.

What brings us together is our natural ability to discover perfect universal principles amidst the imperfections of our existence. We breathe to live, and we struggle to find understanding in change contingent

upon revelation. Yet we choose to divide ourselves on the fallacies of societies and the ideals of unjust radicals.

The elements that bind us should be more important than the reasons to stay divided.

Szpilman was well aware that a German officer was a threat to his life, and the officer knew what his military position meant. However, neither of them knew that a syllable of music would bring dissonance to their uncomfortable

harmony. Up until that point an entire world had been engulfed in the grips of war. Planes had dropped bombs, families were ripped apart and we stained history with the blood of innocence.

When Szpilman’s hands touched the keys, and the officer’s ears harkened to hear, everything stopped. Through all of the chaos, in an abandoned home of a Warsaw ghetto, peace was reached. There were no meetings of heads of nations or treaties to be signed. It was simply two men who loved to hear the melodies of ivories.

In order to discover our equality we must know how to play the instruments of our character without pretense. What locked social barrier can be opened when we play the right keys at the opportune


Leave a Reply