Characteristics of the Life of an Individual Exemplified in La Legende du pianiste sur l’ocean, Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean, or The Legend of 1900 – a film with Tim Roth
Another example of a film, which for me, I received greater meaning from and appreciation of upon a second viewing.
The Legend of 1900 (director and screenplay – Giuseppe Tornatore) is a beautiful film I highly recommend for the individual.
If you are one who feels separate and different from the majority, and who doesn’t judge others for their mundanity but who does reject it for yourself, this is a film for you.
From his earliest years the protagonist (named Nineteen Hundred after his birth year) is choosing decisively for himself – regardless of what those around him think.
The scene when he is about age eight, venturing into the ocean-liner’s ballroom late at night, to play his extraordinary unique compositions upon the piano, is one which will bring a smile from individuals viewing this story. For when the captain of the ship approaches him, sternly, oblivious to the genius before him, and says that the boy’s behavior is against the regulations, the child replies without hesitation, ” —- the regulations.” Meanwhile, those not imprisoned by an ego authoritarian agenda to uphold as the captain is, are gathering around in their nightclothes captivated and in awe at the prodigy.
The child, Nineteen Hundred, becomes a man (Tim Roth), whose eccentric life upon an ocean liner is filled with what he loves most – playing piano. As he grows, his music is always an expression of introspection, awareness and discernment – resulting in original compositions which awe and delight listeners.
He is no usual pianist. He is both a prodigy and an intuit, a psychic who translates acute discernment and knowledge and feelings into his music. His surroundings, be it an ocean storm in the night or a glimpse of a beautiful girl, evoke notes on the piano keys. He can as easily be captivated by one soul and create a haunting masterpiece as he can translate a room of immigrants yearning for their traditional music into a camaraderie of happiness. At any moment, he may lapse remarkably into a pianistic melody evoked by any person he chooses to focus upon – his music communicating their reality as he is able to discern by a mere glance.
Unique in many ways (including having never set foot upon land), I found his story the story of the individual. I related to it on many a level.
From the child’s vocal expression rejecting regulations meant to confine him, to his loneness even when amongst a crowd, Nineteen Hundred’s life is one of quiet internal beauty that few, if any, would comprehend. When the crowds go, he remains.
His only friend, Max the trumpet player, (individuals have very few friends, another way I relate to this film) is a relatively conventional man with enough maturation to respect, admire and appreciate Nineteen Hundred even though their lives differ immensely. Despite differences, Max’s (Pruitt Taylor Vince) caring for Nineteen Hundred evolves so deeply, so as for him to become the sole human being on earth who truly knows Nineteen Hundred and comes to understand Nineteen Hundred’s final choice in life. (Max is also a man who speculates, I think accurately, that if he could hear his friends’ voice commenting upon the war he’d just as easily be saying “—- the war” during WWII, but it remains only a thought because during the war years Max is away from Nineteen Hundred and wonders what has become of his friend and fellow musician.)
Nineteen Hundred’s awareness of land and its people is far superior to those living on land. He sees the many for their escapism, a security in being “normal” obscuring real life from them. He sees…he truly sees.
I loved his remark about how land people always ask “Why?” “Why, why, why?” So busy, they avoid introspection, and rather look peculiarly (and at times hostilely) upon one who has chosen differently.
The individual seeks not conflict, but discovers others wish to aggress in various ways against him. A frequent occurrence in the life of an individual is the hostility incurred from those with highly developed egos, such as the famous jazz pianist who comes to the ocean liner to piano-duel Nineteen Hundred. I loved Nineteen Hundred’s reaction – one of perplexity, surprise, and bewilderment at such a notion. He plays piano…and has never done it to outdo/compete against another. What is this all about? As those of us who simply focus on our own life well know, the arrogant ones resent highly and behave as if attacked, simply by our being. We may ignore them, but they do not ignore us in their vain attempts to prove their worth rather than just being themselves without regard to another.
Contentment Nineteen Hundred had, though most in the world would think he lacking in the experiences they revel in upon land. But his life is satisfying, and unlike most people, he does not run from its natural end.
A fascinating journey you will take as you view this artistic film, and it will stay with you to the degree you are introspective.
Unafraid to realize his beginning has a natural end in the world he has consciously chosen for himself, a world that is neither a frantic rat race or a “normal,” life like most choose, his extraordinary strength is to remain true to that which he loves. Doing so can at times bring sadness, but not the sadness of a life lived for others, a sadness indicative of individuals who make decisions in truth to themselves, which may at times bring sadness when it encounters another whose life is on a different path, but yet with whom one felt that rare spiritual kinship and knowing. The primary fulfillment, however, is in a life lived truly in a world full of falsity.
The individual thoughtfully examines and chooses that which is right for himself. His freedom lies in his being true to himself.
The individual is almost always alone: Born alone (rarely is the family a source of love and joy), experiencing life relatively alone (few are deep enough to get to know individuals since most are herd people incapable of appreciating such genius and such tenderness), and die alone (in this case, as is often reflected in life, there may be but one other who truly cares, appreciates and loves such individuals). The one or two who may be part of the lives of such extraordinary individuals will cherish them forever.
It takes fortitude to resist the urgings (even if well-intentioned) of society to conform, but the reward is contentment…an experience rare in their world of meaningless activity.
The world is not what anyone else say’s it is, it’s where you find it yourself. Your world is what matters.
With a fairy-tale quality, this fable in film form, is a deep delight to experience in multiple viewings, for its music (Ennio Morricone’s musical score), its cinematic beauty, and most of all it’s story, relevant to every individual, I recommend this excellent film. Tim Roth’s tender portrayal of a man free from ego, a prodigy and genius, focused upon his own life and to the exclusion of any other’s expectations of him, is another shining performance in a wonderful thoughtful film. I highly recommend this film.
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