The Piano Teacher

Synopsis: 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?
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Michael Haneke
Production: MK2 Diffusion
  Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 17 wins & 21 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
131 min

Good evening, child.

Evening, Mama.

Home already? I'm so happy.

Not so fast.

Please. Leave me be.

I'm tired.

I can quite believe it.

Your last pupil left 3 hours ago.

Might I know

where you've been all this time?


No, you don't.

Not until you tell me!

I went for a walk. Do you mind?

I spent 8 hours in my cage.

I was tired and needed some air.

- For three hours?

- Absolutely!


Just as I thought.

Where's the bankbook?

Tell me, have you lost your mind?

Where's my grey Autumn suit?

No idea.

Give that back.


I remember that talk show.

the guy advocated fines

for dog owners

whose dogs crap in the street.


the creep was defending the idea

that women are inferior to men.


If you'd let me get a word in...

Who rattled your cage!

Should cut your hands off.

Beating your own mother!

That frock was far too gaudy anyway.

At your age,

you should know what suits you.

Can't you stop, you cow?

Wasn't ruining that enough for you?

- I wish...

- What?

You daren't say it?

Don't bother.

I know what you wish.

I could have had a heart attack

from the agitation.

If that's what you want,

go ahead!

Stop it, Mama,

you don't know what you're saying.

There's a real hole here.

Here, too.


But why do you do these things?

Why do you do these things?

I'm sorry.

Truly sorry.

Let me look.

Never mind that.

That's how it is.

We're a hot-blooded family.

Come on, stop crying.

I'll make some coffee.

We'll have a cup together. Okay?

Nothing in life comes free.

You'll just have to give

more private lessons.

Your vanity must not

stop us buying our apartment.

You can't contradict me there.

I paid this month's instalment

long ago, don't worry.

In any case,

the dress only cost 6,500.

I'll pay the remainder

back in tomorrow.

I don't understand

why someone of your standing

slaps make-up on

and fritters money away

on frocks that will soon be

out of fashion.

I'd be wearing that dress for years.

The cut was so classical.

It was ageless.

If memory serves me right,

you used to have a dress

just like it. Remember?

You must be dreaming.

It was a designer label.

The finishing was remarkable.

It would have lasted forever.

Do you still need the light?

Did they really annoy you today?

No more than usual.

Did you have the Schober girl?

Isn't Friday her day?


She's not untalented.

She has a surprising affinity

for Schubert.

Schubert's your department,

don't forget.

That's not for you to say.

You're hardly a judge

of what is my department musically.

If you want your pupils

to have a career instead of you...

No one must surpass you, my girl.

Don't be dizzy...

Don't worry, Mama.


A little less pedal

wouldn't go amiss.

It's not enough

just to take your foot off.

A note may not be

as long as it is written

and may not be marked

as long as it should be held.

from the novel by ELFRIEDE JELINEK

"Dogs are barking,

"Rattling their chains.

"People are sleeping

"In their beds."

Do you have no ear

for what coldness is?

Or maybe you're just sloppy?

And let go.

The music is not purely descriptive.

And it's not drenched

in indifference and sentimentality.

And let go.

You see?

"Dogs are barking,

"Rattling their chains.

"People are sleeping

"In their beds."

A wrong note in Beethoven

is better than bad interpretation.

You play only phrases.

Ignore the structure

and you'll ruin the sonata.

Back to the top of the page.

I guessed you were for the recital.

Allow me to introduce...

Professor, please, do come in.

Rate this script:3.3 / 4 votes

Michael Haneke

Michael Haneke is an Austrian film director and screenwriter best known for films such as Funny Games, Caché, The White Ribbon and Amour. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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