About halfway into Jakub Piatek’s film, a relative of Chinese contestant Hao Rao tries to give comfort and encouragement by reciting a hundred year old proverb that reads In English it roughly translates to something like ‘It is better to walk 10,000 miles than to read 10,000 books’ (or 讀萬券書不如行萬里路. in Chinese). It’s a phrase that is interesting not just for the lively debates by literary scholars over its original author and wording, but also for how it can be applied to modern society.
In today’s world, we have become content with living our dreams vicariously through others, whether it be through podcasts, movies or any of the ever-growing number of social media influencers that pop in and check on us throughout our day. It is easy to be content with the idea that there are more qualified and deserving people than ourselves, and that the spoils of life should rightfully be bestowed upon them. However, by living our lives through the experiences of others, we miss out on many of life’s lessons.
The participants in Warsaw’s Chopin Competition wouldn’t gain any sense of fulfillment from just reading through sheet music or listening to others play. Instead, they are willing to sacrifice everything in order to gain the life experience that can only come from walking 10,000 miles. Pianoforte is an inspiring film that wants you to dream, and dares you to achieve said dream. Go out and see this film, even if you have to walk 10,000 miles to do it.