The long take is a favorite tool of many great contemporary filmmakers, but few have wielded it with such unnervingly provocative results as Michael Haneke. In his 2001 adaptation of Elfriede Jelinek’s controversial novel The Piano Teacher, the Austrian director brought his masterful use of cinematic duration to the story of a deeply repressed piano professor named Erika (Isabelle Huppert), who lives with her emotionally dependent mother and forms a sadomasochistic relationship with her talented young student Walter. Working with cinematographer Christian Berger, Haneke created long passages in which the merciless, unflinching gaze of the camera heightens the intense abjection and alienation on-screen. For our recently released edition of the film, Haneke talked with us about his methods of storytelling, touching on the ways in which long takes foster narrative suspense and make it easier for actors to develop the emotional arc of a scene. In the below clip, he examines the beginning of a seven-minute confrontation between Erika and Walter, and explains how he strived to capture this sexually charged moment with the boldness of such transgressively erotic masterpieces as Salò and In the Realm of the Senses.
A Subtler Side of the Hepburn-Grant Magic
Filmmaker and distributor Michael Schlesinger and critic Michael Sragow dive into the pleasures of Holiday, a romantic-comedy classic that has long stood in the shadow of The Philadelphia Story but has a poignancy all its own.
Wim Wenders Looks Back on the Digital Future He Predicted
From search engines to all-engrossing handheld devices, the technologies that the German director conjured for his 1991 opus Until the End of the World are now common features of contemporary life.
John Bailey Breaks Down a Tour de Force of Gothic Lighting
The veteran cinematographer takes a close look at the highly stylized and atmospheric lighting in one of the most pivotal scenes in pre-Code classic The Story of Temple Drake.
All About Mankiewicz
One of the most celebrated Hollywood writer-directors of his time, Joseph L. Mankiewicz offers a window into the way he sees his characters in this illuminating clip from an archival interview.