Newsweek Interview: Christopher Szpilman Son of 'The Pianist' Wladyslaw Szpilman.
The Memoir In Attic When He Was A Child
'I Suspect My Father Wrote the Book to Put All His Unbearable Memories Into
It, Get Them Out of His Head and Never Return to It'
NEW YORK, March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Christopher Szpilman, the son of pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, who survived in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation and is the subject of the Oscar-nominated Roman Polanski film, "The Pianist," tells Newsweek International that he didn't learn what his father went through until he found his memoir in the attic when he was 12 or 13 years old. "You see, the book [Wladyslaw Szpilman's memoir of the same name on which the movie is based] was published in 1946, but my father never talked about his war experiences. I was born six years after the war ... It was a real shock to [learn] what my father went through and what happened to my grandparents from [reading] it. I suspect my father wrote the book to put all his unbearable memories into it, get them out of his head and never to return to it."
(Photo: NewsCom: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030316/NYSU007 )
"After that, he started concentrating on his work, again, to suppress these unpleasant ideas. Even after I read the book, it was very difficult to broach the subject. He'd have just turned it into a joke. He had a strange way of turning any serious conversation into a joke to avoid it," Szpilman tells Special Correspondent Kay Itoi in the March 24 issue of Newsweek International (on newsstands Monday, March 17).
Szpilman died in 2000 as Polanski searched for an actor to play him. Christopher Szpilman says when the book was republished in 1998, his father was pleased, "but the renewed attention was very painful. By that time he was 87, with less strength to suppress the memories. He was pained by the idea that he survived but not anyone else." The first negotiation for the film took place in late 1999. "My father [passed away] in July 2000. He had been in excellent health but he was gone very suddenly. I can't help feeling that the success of the book and this film talk had something to do with that."
He says he can't imagine that his father would have been able to sit through the whole thing "and have to bear 2 1/2 hours of the memories of his own experiences on the screen."
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