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.
How Paweł Pawlikowski Reimagined His Parents’ Fiery Romance for the Big Screen
As the director explains to filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the love story at the heart of the Oscar-nominated drama Cold War has its roots in his own family history.
A Daytrippers Trio Looks Back on Their Indie Miracle
Director Greg Mottola reunites with two cast members of his debut feature—Liev Schreiber and Parker Posey—to reminisce about the joys and trials they experienced on the set of this shoestring marvel.
The Trove of Muhammad Ali Footage That Almost Went Unseen
Producer David Sonenberg charts the long road When We Were Kings, which ultimately won an Oscar for best documentary, had to travel to make it to the big screen.