The Pianist (2002)
Roman Polanski

Hollywood has always had a constant flow of World War movies coming from it. But not more than a dozen stay in memories of the average film goer. Writing off the Clint Eastwood double bill and a few forgettable ones, Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (2002) may be considered the last successful World War movie. Adrian Brody’s chilling portrayal of the Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman won him the Oscar in 2002, making him the youngest to do so.

In one of the best scenes in the movie, Wlady meets an old friend who promises to provide him a refuge from the Nazi army. As he leaves for the hideout he watches his friend Dorota play the Cello. Upon reaching the house, his friend’s spouse informs him that no one knows he is here and it is a locality frequented by the Nazis. After the person asks Wlady not to make any kind of noise and leaves, Wlady notices a piano and sits in front of it. He takes his hand towards the keys on the piano and we cut to his face. A music piece is being played. It is only after some seconds we notice that the music is actually playing in his mind and his fingers are just hovering over the keys. He is happy for the few minutes he “plays”.

I have uploaded the video in Youtube for your convenience:

Polanski, who has been in the industry big time, is at home directing the film. Though the scene has not a word spoken, it conveys so much about an artist and the influence of political situation on his work. In contrast to Dorota, who is free from any trouble from the Nazis and is playing her music peacefully, Wlady is under a pressure from the ruling government and is unable to produce his music. This is true of any artist who works within the boundaries of political restrictions. Not all of the artist’s true intent is put forth to the world. Right from the medieval (even before that, in fact) painters (featured in the Tarkovsky classic “Andrei Rublev“) to film makers such as Kieslowski, artists have not been given freedom of expression owing to the clash of ideologies of the creator and the ruler. This scene sums it all up with effortless ease.