The Piano Teacher and Mygale
English and Literature
Submitted By AndyP
Modern Novels on the Screen
01 May 2014
What do you take to be the more disturbing aspects of the two films that derive from Elriede Jelinek’s and Thierry Jonquet’s novels? To what extent (and in what ways) have the filmmakers built on their source material?
The most disturbing aspects of La Pianiste, that derives from the novel The Piano Teacher, include among them Walter Klemmer and Erika’s self-mutilation. In the film, Walter Klemmer while self-assured, is has an air of clumsiness when it comes to Erika and her peculiar habits. From the first scene, Klemmer forces in way into Erika’s life. Because the film is viewed from an outsider’s perspective, the viewer is not privy to Klemmer’s thoughts. This inability to not comprehend what plays across his brain is what truly disturbing. In the novel, the reader is treated to an inside glimpse at the sheer arrogance and instability that is present in Klemmer’s thoughts. Instead of thinking along the lines of figuring out a way to get Erika alone, Klemmer thinks, about “how to render the mother harmless” (Jelinek 76). While most young men would think kinder towards the mother in an attempt at wooing the daughter, Klemmer is almost violent with his thoughts. Klemmer’s mental state drips with the idea of disposable women and his desperate need for a challenge. When the climax occurs, while it is disturbing, it is not exactly surprising. The filmmakers were able to build on this build up through different means, which made the climax more shocking than in the book. When Klemmer berates Erika for throwing him back up, he is disgusted with her, which creates the rape scene all that more shocking. The filmmakers took the lack of ability to delve into his mind and made his fall into insanity that much more traumatizing.
Erika’s mutilation of her body, while more prolific in the novel, is...