1 EAGLETON NOTES: The Pianist (And, Incidentally, The Sacredness of Life)



Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Pianist (And, Incidentally, The Sacredness of Life)

I watched Roman Polanski's film The Pianist a few nights ago.  I watch films occasionally.  Often the same ones that I have watched before. Safe films. Films the ending of which I know. Films that entertain and relax me.  Not films that challenge me.  I can be a very emotional person and I like good emotions.  Like everyone else I have to face bad emotions from time to time in real life (and I've had a fair share of them so far) but, where I can, as in the make-believe life of films, I avoid them.  I'm done with the emotions generated by the horrors of the world of which there are far too many for me to do anything about.  So I have absolutely no idea why I chose to watch The Pianist knowing that it was a window into the evils that man perpetrates upon man.

And it did not fall short.  Ultimately it had the glimmer of a happy ending..... if one ignored the overwhelming unhappiness that had to be gone through to get there.  The fact that I actually watched it from beginning to end is, quite frankly, remarkable.

During the First World War the total number of casualties, both military and civilian, were about 37 million: 16 million deaths and 21 million wounded. 

Second World War casualty statistics vary greatly. Estimates of total dead range from 50 million to over 70 million.  The sources cited on Wikipedia document an estimated death toll in World War II of roughly 72 million, making it the deadliest ever. Civilians killed totaled around 47 million, including 20 million from war-related disease and famine. Total military dead: about 25 million, including deaths in captivity of about 4 million prisoners of war. Axis dead: approximately 11 million; Allied dead: about 61 million.

Now think.  Add to these possibly 88 million bodies, the dead of just two wars which took place during the last century, those of the conflicts in Ruanda, Vietnam, Bosnia, Croatia, Ethopia, Cambodia, Lebanon, Palestine, Gaza and so many more and I rest my case.

So why am I blogging about the dead of the last century (and I'm not excluding the present century either)?   What is my point?  What is my case? 

"I'm not really sure" is the answer to that question.

But it came about because I was thinking about death and the way people die. They weren't morbid thoughts but simply reflections arising out of a few recent deaths of people whom I know and the fact that I was told last summer in the UK that my death was 'only a matter of time'.  Of course it's only a matter of time.  Everyone's death is only a matter of time.  I'm just hoping that there's plenty between now and then.

Anyway I digress.  What worries me is not when I might die (although I hope that it will be some considerable time in the future) but how I might die.  At the moment there is a sporting chance that the cancer will get me.  And therein lies the rub (origin of saying please CJ).  Death by cancer is usually unpleasant and slow.  A good old heart attack may be unpleasant but it's usually quick.  

And  now to the point.  If I decided that I wanted to end things quickly why should I not be allowed to do just that.  It would save the NHS lots of money and my friends and relatives all that unpleasant waiting.  More importantly for me, it would save me lots of pain.

After all if the State can kill people by the hundreds of millions in one century (many, if not most, in the name of one god or another) how dare it presume to say that life is sacred. 

Oh, and don't worry, there's a happy posting over on the other channel.


  1. I agree with you. When all hope is gone who needs the extra pain and suffering and grief to the relatives? (Not to mention the expense to the State.)

  2. What a coincidence! The Pianist was on television two nights ago so I watched it for the first time just after you blogged about it.

    Although I found it less emotional than Schindler's List I found it impossible to have William on my knee whilst I watched it and it did dominate my dreams that night.

    I can't imagine what I'd do under similar circumstances. Where did he get the will to go on I wonder?

  3. I've never had the courage to watch Schindler's List. Perhaps I will do so now that I've braved The Piano.