Book review: The Pianist

Yes, I’m crazy about the film, and in less than a day I have completed reading Szpilman’s memoirs. His son notes that he is a musician not a storyteller, yet Szpilman’s storytelling is intensely readable: moving without being too emotional; factual, with a directness that is immediately gratifying.
I also liked reading the diary of his German saviour Wilm Hosenfeld (included at the end of the book). How different his viewpoint was from that of his commander, Hitler. The German captain was ashamed of his government and its cowardly propaganda, designed to justify the mindless slaughter of innocent people all over Europe, and felt that ultimately no good would come out of this for Germany.
Hosenfeld saved many other war victims from death and imprisonment; the Jewish pianist was just number four on his list of people whom he thought was in a position to secure his release from a Russian prison.
It is most unfortunate that he could not be saved from death in a Soviet prisoner camp, despite the desperate appeals of Szpilman.


  1. vantan (still domainless)

    I could tell you about the Jewish labourers who were picked to step out of line, lie face down, and get shot in the head – one by one.
    Or of the starving, crazy man who swiped an old woman’s soup in the ghetto, which spilt on the dirty ground. He proceeded to lap it all up (this is a true account).
    Or of the moments of solitude where he closes his eyes and pretends he’s playing in a symphony.

  2. Ally

    I saw the show on VCD because it came so highly recommended by you. We watched it at night, bad idea! The show was so disturbing – the cruelty of the Germans, that I had difficlty sleeping!
    It’s certainly a stark reminder of how humans can be so cruel to their own kind yet a really moving testimony of a surviour. To anyone else who wants to watch it, mentally brace yourself first, otherwise, read the book…

  3. tiggie

    i love that film too…saw it in german and i recall the scenes you mentioned in your comment to vanny…

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