The Pianist. Patrick O’Connell

That chart we looked at in class today of how conformity changes with group size has got me thinking. The fact that some situations will illicit more or less conformity when groups are large, or the opposite when the group is small is fascinating.

The movie The Pianist depicts a Jewish/Polish concert pianist struggle to survive through the events of Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto in WWII.  One scene in particular reminded me of conformity in groups.  The entire movie is full of Nazi’s performing horrific things in large and small groups, however, in one scene a Nazi lieutenant discovers the pianist in a bombed out house trying to survive.  The scene is tense, and you expect the officer to either shoot him or take him back to the camp.  But none of the other Nazi were there, and the officer left him alone.

The terrible things that the Nazi did throughout the rest of the movie show how groups and authority can lead people to conform in even entirely immoral situations.  But, when the man is reduced from the group to just himself, his personal morals can take over.  He comes back later in the movies with food for the pianist because he able to connect with him on a personal level outside of his group.

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