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Piano Teacher [DVD] [2001]

 Suitable for 18 years and over   DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Format: PAL, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: IMPORT
  • DVD Release Date: 23 April 2013
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006422Z
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,748 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



An unexpected critical (Grand Prix at Cannes) and commercial (three months in London's West End) success on its release in 2001, The Piano Teacher is a provocative, but ultimately frustrating, film. The intensifying relationship between Erika Kohut, a Viennese piano teacher whose musical focus is gradually undone by sexual repression, and Walter Klemmer, her uninhibited but unsuspecting student and admirer, lacks an underlying motivation, either physical or emotional, to sustain the tortuous encounters of the film's later stages.

Director Michael Haneke powerfully evokes the claustrophobic décor of the flat that Kohut shares with her dictatorial yet ineffectual mother, with whom her relationship progresses from the pitiful to the farcical. And farce of the blackest kind is what the film descends to, as Kohut and Klemmer play out a vicious game of sado-masochistic control with an intriguing but indecisive conclusion.

Isabelle Huppert is magnificently assured as Kohut, but Benoît Magimel often seems confused as Klemmer, while Annie Girardot resorts to a caricature of the mother. Fans of classical piano will enjoy the masterclass and rehearsal sequences during the first hour, though music is then relegated to a minor role--its deeper relevance to the film being ultimately difficult to define. English subtitles are provided, and the monochrome shades in which the scenes abound come through with suitably wan intensity. Yet it's hard not to feel that a more profound inquiry into the darker side of sexual desire has been lost along the way. --Richard Whitehouse

Product Description

Erika (Isabelle Huppert) teaches classical piano in a cold and often abrasive style. Approaching middle age, Erika lives with her doting mother (Annie Girardot) and still sleeps in the same bed with her. Erika's social life consists of occasionally sneaking away to a peep show where she secretly comes into contact with perverse passion, often using the discarded trash of previous customers. Her beautiful piano playing seduces youthful Walter (Benoit Magimel), who then takes the instructor's advanced class. Walter reveals his desire during a class session. Erika reacts curiously, presenting a long list of cruel, humiliating sexual acts she would like him to perform on her. Meanwhile, the teacher also torments a talented student (Anna Sigalevitch) who is already plagued by her own fears. Michael Haneke (CODE UNKNOWN) directed this unflinching allegorical tale of cruelty. The film caused a stir at the Cannes Film Festival where it was controversial not only for its subject matter, but also because it won multiple awards there--the Grand Prize and acting awards for both Huppert and Magimel--despite leaving many audience members outraged. Based on a novel by Elfriede Jelinek, the film features numerous classical piano sonatas banged out in an aggressive style.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Compelling ! 12 Mar 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film is a perfect example of French cinema at its best. One of France's greatest actresses - Isabelle Huppert - plays the part of Erika, a Viennese piano teacher, late thirties and sexually repressed, she lives an isolated, lonely life in a small apartment with her aged and volatile mother with whom she has a love-hate relationship. She has masochistic tendencies and pays clandestine visits to sex-shops to view hardcore pornography. She is aware of her own talent and skill as a teacher of the classical piano and judges others harshly. When a young male student approaches her she is impressed by his musical capabilities on the piano. He too is drawn to her. With her state of mind aroused and the young student's youthful naivety fully engaged they begin an affair.
This is not a film for the faint-hearted or lovers of `Mary Poppins plays piano' type of entertainment! It is at times very dark, and sexually explicit, though the latter amounts to no more that about ten minutes or less in total in a film of over two hours. But what there is, is strong and often violent. I did wonder about the strength of the sexual scenes, until I realised it had to be so, to fully explain the intense state of mind of Erika. The film is, after all, about Erika's mental condition and her relationship with the people in her life.
The classical piano music to be heard, although the film is not about this, is nevertheless essential and enjoyable, and most is heard during the early half of the film. My only small (very) criticism is I thought the sub-titling was a little on the large side - others may not agree! It does not in any case hinder the following of the screenplay.
There are a good number of reviews of this movie - some of which are very comprehensive, even learned.
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, disturbing, yet brilliant 26 Mar 2003
Make no mistake, this is not a film for the faint-hearted. It deserves it's '18' certificate. But it is nonetheless a superb film, an amazing depiction of loneliness, alienation and self-delusion. Even though I knew what was coming, it still shocked me and left me mentally gasping for breath. The most shocking thing of all, perhaps, is that the film is apparently much lighter in mood than the book it was based on!
Isabelle Huppert is superb as Erika Klohut, a woman alienated from life by her own fears and her elderly, utterly selfish mother. She is a brilliant pianist, but is so cold she could freeze a blast furnace. Huppert is amazing as she wanders through the film seeming as hard as nails, but underneath it all craving affection and something more. However, as she realises at the end, what she really craves is not what she thought. She is confused by her own sexuality and is way out of her depth in her relationship with Walter Klemmer (wonderfully realised by Benoit Magimel of 'Nids de Guepes' fame). She thinks she is in control, but it becomes very apparent to her that she isn't, and the end of the film is so sad it isn't true. Make sure you listen to Huppert's commentary on this.
This is a great film and one that will move you to the core. Klohut isn't likeable, and nor is Klemmer, but they are real people, and I think most of us certainly know someone like Klohut, although they may not be this extreme. This is great cinema, provocative yet terribly sad.
My only question is, what was she doing in the bath with that razor?!!!
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Romance 14 Nov 2002
Michael Haneke has adapted Elfriede Jelinek's novel to create this disturbing psychological portrait of piano teacher Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert). Erika's claustrophobic life is filled with strict teachings and moral hypocrisy. She is a voyeur and masochist beneath her rigid exterior. Her life becomes desperate upon meeting a new student Walter Klemmer (Benoit Magimel). Their relationship becomes tumultuous when it becomes increasingly clear that she is incapable of nothing like a "normal" romance.
This tragedy is at many times shocking and is likely to make you squirm in discomfort over the deranged levels of Erika's mentality. While frequently repulsed, I felt an odd sympathy for her at times over the fragility of her being and her difficulty with expressing love. The cinematography of this film is bleak. The atmosphere seems glazed with an impersonality and stark indifference equal to that of Erika's spirit. The air is bizarrely punctuated with the beauty of the many musical recitals throughout the film. Director Haneke has been much criticised for this work (it has been dismissed as pretentious). Though not for the faint of heart or morally concerned, I found it strangely moving and engaging in the way it unsettles.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Michael Haneke is a director of incredible power. Those who have seen his previous well known efforts (Benny's Video, and Funny Games) will have some idea what to expect from one of the few directors who tackles the subjects of violence in cinema seriously. Whilst the latter two examples focused on violence and its damaging effect on a society desensitised, here, with the Piano Teacher, Haneke explores themes and subjects that neither could possibly prepare you for.
The film is essentially an examination upon the notions of sexual perversity, oppression, and the constant battle for power between the sexes. To say more would only diminish the power of Haneke's storytelling which, as seen in his previous films, unfolds in a pseudo-documentary style of unflinching camera angles. There is no showboating from Haneke, he is not interested in flash cuts, or special effects. The camera is merely an observer, keeping the action (although incredibly brutal in parts) hidden from the audience. Everything shocking happens just out of view, or obstructed. The framing is exceptional. But for all its worth, praise must be given to its cast. Particularly Huppert who bares all in her performance which cries out for comfort and sympathy while also distancing herself from us with the extreme side of her perversions. It is performances like hers that deserve to be awarded and commended, brave unflinching performances in films which tackle uncomfortable topics. This is not a film for the light hearted. However, watched in the right atmosphere the intense emotional journey of "The Piano Teacher" will stick with you forever.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Didnt like this film at all.
Published 1 month ago by Mary Green.
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good acting
Not a bad movie with some good acting, though, as with many foreign films, there are shots of inactivity that could be cut.
Published 3 months ago by Stave
4.0 out of 5 stars Self harm in F sharp
Very interesting piece of filmmaking. The narrative is plainly drawn. No music. The sense of scene is powerful. Drama is urged by the inner turmoil of a woman. Read more
Published 12 months ago by W. Rodick
5.0 out of 5 stars Diffrerent Film
Quite an interesting film. It seemed quite different from other films that I had seen of this type. I shall find time to watch it again.
Published 14 months ago by Derek
3.0 out of 5 stars Its Ok...not entertainment though
Did I or did I not wished I never watched it all? It took me 2 viewings as I found it slow , switched it off half way....resumed another day. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ms. LLC
5.0 out of 5 stars Habitus
In which Haneke plunges the knife into the social pretence of refinement, culture and manners to detail the underlying S&M undertones to the presumed haughtiness and bullying. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Nearly A Masterpiece
Michael Haneke's 2001 film, based on the novel by Elfriede Jelinek, is a powerful tale of sexual obsession and perversion, featuring at its core an astonishing performance by... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Keith M
2.0 out of 5 stars The piano teacher dvd
There hasn't been too many films that I haven't liked, but this is one of them.
The acting was good but I thought the story-line was poor. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Honeybunny17
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I love French films with a passion that is not quite sensible or healthy, and just to make things worse, "The Piano Teacher" comes along. Read more
Published 19 months ago by J. Rottweiller Swinburne
5.0 out of 5 stars My first 5 stars for a Haneke.....
Working chronologically through the Essential Michael Haneke 10 DVD boxed set, The Piano Teacher is the 7th film in that set. Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2012 by Tim Kidner
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