Movie: The Piano Teacher – Michael Haneke (2001)

Movie: “The Piano Teacher” – Michael Haneke (2001)

Some nights ago I watched a movie I was curious about; I’m talking of “The Piano Teacher” by Michael Haneke (director of the ferocious “Funny Games”). Since of the movie’s topic, it was really good the fact I watched it after Polanski’s “Venus in Fur”, so to be already in theme.
Even in this case, the topic is a sadomasochist relationship between two main characters: Erika, piano teacher with masochist tendencies and woman repressed by her mother, with whom she lives; Walter, her nephew and student, intelligent and sensitive young man that falls in love with her.
Haneke, with his frigidly ruthless gaze on the situation, slowly unfolds the relationship between the two, with the same game of powers we already seen in “Venus in Fur”, even if less fluid, with equally negative results. But then, if in “Venus in Fur” Severin in the ending is “cured” from his disease:

“The cure was cruel, but radical; but the main point is, I have been cured.”

In “The Piano Teacher”, on the other hand, the erotic dream will collide with the most cruel reality and the even more ruthless lover, who, after doing everything he wanted of her, exactly how she asked, will leave to the protagonist only a humiliation indeed colder than the erotic one. Erika, in the front of Walter’s final abandonment, will pierce her own heart and, running away from the concert hall in the viennese night, simbolically will leave all she has in life: the music.
The movie is based on a book by Elfriede Jelinek: I hope to get a copy soon 🙂

Qualche sera fa ho visto un film che da tempo mi incuriosiva; si tratta de “La Pianista” di Michael Haneke (regista del crudelissimo “Funny Games”). Visto il tema trattato, mai momento fu più propizio per la soddisfazione della mia curiosità che quello dopo la visione di “Venere in Pelliccia” di Polanski, così da essere già in tema.
Anche in questo caso il tema affrontato è un rapporto sadomasochista tra i due principali protagonisti: lei, Erika, insegnante di pianoforte con tendenze masochiste e donna soffocata dalla propria madre, con la quale vive; lui, Walter, suo nipote e studente, giovane intelligente e sensibile che per lei perde la testa.
Haneke, con il suo sguardo frigidamente spietato sulla situazione, lentamente spiega il rapporto tra i due, con lo stesso gioco di potere già visto in “Venere in Pelliccia”, pur se meno fluido, con esito ugualmente negativo. Se però in “Venere in Pelliccia”, Severin nel finale viene “curato” del suo disagio:

“Dovetti dire ad alta voce: la cura è stata crudele ma efficace ed io sono guarito.”

Ne “La Pianista”, invece, il sogno erotico si scontrerà con la più crudele realtà, e l’ancora più spietato amante, che, dopo aver fatto di lei ciò che ha voluto, proprio come da lei richiesto, lascerà alla protagonista solo una ben più fredda umiliazione di quella erotica. Erika, di fronte al finale abbandono da parte di Walter, si trafiggerà il cuore e, fuggendo poi dalla sala concerti nella notte Viennese,  simbolicamente lascerà tutto ciò che ha nella vita: la musica.
Il film è tratto dal romanzo di Elfriede Jelinek: spero di procurarmelo presto 🙂


(Images: Web)

5 thoughts on “Movie: The Piano Teacher – Michael Haneke (2001)

  1. I liked the film quite a lot, especially the earlier scenes. She was a bit of a walking cliche, I guess, cold teacher, burning on the inside. I thought the self-cutting scene was one of the best for showing how she does not really hurt herself, but does it enough for us to wince. The desire for smut was like that a bit too…the sex shop visit. She is unusual for being a masochist rather than a sub, seeing sex as dirty I guess too. I suppose for me the interesting version of this film would be one that started half way in , and then showed us what happened after the collision with reality. How does she put herself back together. I have been there myself, and journeys of self-reconstruction are the most challenging. Who are her real friends? Does everyone get to know? How does she move forward? Those questions – and the realtionship to hte mother as well….more on that, I guess would have made it better for me. But it was worthwhile….and she played it really well

    • Very interesting questions, now that you wrote this and made me think about it, I’d be curious too. The movie makes us think that she has no real friends or anyone knowing about her true self and desires, but remains the question of how she will put herself back together in a sea of loneliness like that. Maybe in the book there’s something more…did you read it? Really looking forward to.

      • HI Maettina, No I have not read it….but that is a good point. Sometimes there is a wider frame in the book. You add a question too – her friends. As a masochist myself, there are few people we can speak to…except in wordpress anonymity of course!

        I liked the cast, but just felt it missed something…but maybe the things I bring to it are too demanding…all best wishes!


      • I’ll let you know when I’ll read the book. For sure you had the best answer concerning reality, unless Jelinek’s story has some roots in autobiography (she is a musician too, so who knows?) 🙂
        Have a good day, John, thank you for your very interesting comments!

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