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The Piano Teacher (2001)

La pianiste (original title)
A young man romantically pursues his masochistic piano teacher.

Director:

Michael Haneke

Writers:

Michael Haneke, Elfriede Jelinek (novel)
Reviews
Popularity
2,698 ( 2,874)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 18 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Isabelle Huppert ... Erika Kohut
Annie Girardot ... The Mother
Benoît Magimel ... Walter Klemmer
Susanne Lothar ... Mrs. Schober
Udo Samel ... Dr. George Blonskij
Anna Sigalevitch Anna Sigalevitch ... Anna Schober
Cornelia Köndgen ... Mme Gerda Blonskij
Thomas Weinhappel Thomas Weinhappel ... Baritone
Georg Friedrich ... Man in drive-in
Philipp Heiss Philipp Heiss ... Naprawnik
William Mang William Mang ... Teacher
Rudolf Melichar Rudolf Melichar ... Director
Michael Schottenberg Michael Schottenberg ... Teacher
Gabriele Schuchter Gabriele Schuchter ... Margot
Dieter Berner ... Singing teacher
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Storyline

Erika Kohut is a pianist, teaching music. Schubert and Schumann are her forte, but she's not quite at concert level. She's approaching middle age, living with her mother who is domineering then submissive; Erika is a victim then combative. With her students she is severe. She visits a sex shop to watch DVDs; she walks a drive-in theater to stare at couples having sex. Walter is a self-assured student with some musical talent; he auditions for her class and is forthright in his attraction to her. She responds coldly then demands he let her lead. Next she changes the game with a letter, inviting him into her fantasies. How will he respond; how does sex have power over our other faculties? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Perversion at its wicked best!

Genres:

Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for aberrant sexuality including violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Austria | France | Germany

Language:

French | German

Release Date:

5 September 2001 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Piano Teacher See more »

Filming Locations:

Austria See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

ATS 70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,236,319 (France), 7 September 2001

Opening Weekend USA:

$29,671, 31 March 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,900,282, 10 November 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Erika walks through a snack bar. On its back wall, theater posters can be seen for a motion picture, "Frequency". Frequency [2000] is a real movie - which isn't about music - filmed in Canada and the US. Each key on a piano has a unique frequency. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
The Mother: Good evening, child.
Erika Kohut: Evening, mama.
The Mother: [sarcastically] Home already? I'm so happy.
Erika Kohut: I'm going.
The Mother: Not so fast.
Erika Kohut: Please. Leave me be. I'm tired.
The Mother: I can quite believe it. Your last pupil left 3 hours ago. Might I know where you've been all this time?
Erika Kohut: [trying to go to her room] Please.
The Mother: No, you don't. Not until you tell me.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Trio in E flat, D.929
Franz Schubert
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A great film it may be, but mainstream viewing it is not.
11 November 2001 | by Chris_DockerSee all my reviews

In the first twenty minutes we are swept away by several powerfully portrayed emotions: a suffocating and overbearing mother has a violent argument with her live-in 40yr old daughter; a piano teacher (and professor of music)'s love for her pupils expressed in unswerving critical appraisal; the joy that music can inspire both in the listener and the performer. Within this short space of time our senses have been assaulted convincingly with very real characters. We are also swept away by powerfully performed music and shown the difference between great and mediocre performance with a lot of attention to nuance. Such material alone would have been the basis for an outstanding film of widespread appeal. But the trend in French cinema being what it is, it goes deeper, exploring the repressed sexuality of the teacher, the expression of sexual freedom and subsequent breakdown within a context of passionate attraction, and the inevitable cycle of real abuse. We are drawn to her suffering and, at least initially, wonder how much suffering may be related to the accomplishment of genius, particularly in the composers she admires. The Piano Teacher contains graphic dialogue and depictions of sex and brutality in scenes that some people might rather not watch. The scenes are essential to the dilemmas which the film seeks to raise and so can hardly be called gratuitous. A great film it may be, but mainstream viewing it is not.


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