By James F. Gentry Jr.
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Friday evening, Jackie, Nicholas, and I went to see the movie, Bruce Almighty. Problem is we didn't get to see it. There was a technical predicament of some sort that hindered its showing. How disappointed we were. Stuart Morris was there with his brother Steven to see something. Stuart, being the kind-hearted fellow that he is, invited Nicholas to stay and watch a movie with him — he did ask his mom first before he extended the invitation, thoughtful young man and son that he is. Nicholas got our permission and then readily accepted Stuart's invitation resulting in our having to fork over some cash to our son. Stuart didn't invite Jackie and me to go. I suppose he surmised that we were adults and could take care of ourselves.
What to do now? Blockbuster! What better time to have a date with my wife. Being the man, I got to pick the movie — with Jackie's permission, of course. I don't know if you've seen Roman Polanski's The Pianist or not. If you haven't, you should. It's based on the true story of a brilliant Polish pianist who spent the entirety of World War II surviving in Nazi-occupied Poland. As I watched, I was reminded, again, of how inhumane humanity can be to humanity. It is beyond me that people can actually view other flesh and blood people as sub-human. The Nazis did in gypsies, homosexuals, and Jews to name a few. We've done that here in America. Remember slavery? How about segregation?
This pianist, whose name was Wladyslaw Szpilman, was a Jew. He stood confident in the midst of giants — giants like bigotry, forced labor, harsh winters, hunger, loss of family and friends, physical as well as emotional abuse, prejudice, and sickness. Forced to live in the heart of Warsaw's ghetto, he survived against all the odds — sharing in the suffering, humiliation, and struggles with fellow Jews. He managed to escape and hid himself in the ruins of the capital city.
The greatest irony in this story came near the end of the war. A German captain discovered Szpilman in a bombed-out house, questioned him, and discovered he was a pianist. He insisted that Szpilman play since there was an unharmed piano in that house. Moved by his giftedness at the keyboard, this officer provided bread for the pianist as he hid in the attic. The captain made arrangements for the Nazis to use this house as their headquarters in Warsaw. Szpilman would, in all likelihood, have died had this officer of the Third Reich not helped. It's a testimony to what God can do with an evil giant or one who represents "The Evil Giant" whatever or whomever that giant may be. This German captain was taken prisoner by the Russians at the war's end and died in a Soviet POW camp in 1952. The pianist survived to return to the piano in the concert hall and live out a testimony to the fact that it is possible to stand confident in the midst of giants all of one's life. Szpilman did all the way until his death at age 88 in July 2000.