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.
Donald Richie Uncovers the Traces of a Lost Japan
In collaboration with director Lucille Carra, the renowned writer brought his impressionistic travelogue The Inland Sea—an unusual choice for a film adaptation—to the big screen.
A Palette That Sizzles On-Screen
Filmmaker Darnell Martin and writer Nelson George discuss how vividly Do the Right Thing captures the heat of a Brooklyn summer and the diverse skin tones of its cast of color.
A Genius of French Cinema Delivers a Career-Defining Performance
Raimu is at his subtle best in one of the most moving scenes in The Baker’s Wife, a moment in which the actor channels the collective despair of France’s working class.