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 ...view middle of the document...
In the novel, when Erika first cuts her vagina, it is revealed that she has mutilated herself many other times. When Erika plans on cutting herself, “she always waits and waits for the moment when she can cut unobserved” (Jelinek 86). For Erika, when she cuts herself, she is using it as her time away from Mother to discover herself and her body. This is in stark contrast to this scene in the film. In the film, Erika sits over the bathtub and cuts herself while her Mother calls to her about dinner being ready. In the film, there is little emotion on Erika’s face. No pain as she cuts or moves about the room. This lack of emotion creates a menacing realization of Erika’s possible mental state. She is desperate to feel anything outside of her mother’s control. The constant overbearing presence of her mother causes her to believe that she wants a sadomasochistic relationship. Erika’s ability to endure self-mutilation, possibly without truly feeling the pain could contribute to this desire for an unconventional relationship. On top of the basic disturbing aspect of self-harm, Erika’s ability to immediately move on with her life is disconcerting. As Erika finishes her slice, she holds a pad against it to capture the blood flow and her mother calls her to dinner. It is shocking that her mother was present throughout the duration of the scene when one thinks about all the ways her mother could have caught her. And instead of just ignoring the Mother and working on stemming the blood flow, Erika immediately sets out to clean up the blood and return the bathroom the its original condition. Erika’s ability to immediately move on with her life after such a painful, personal event adds to the creepy, disturbing feel of the film.
There are many disturbing aspects in the film The Skin I Live In, with Robert in the lead, based on Mygale, with Richard in the place of Robert. One of these disturbing aspects throughout the film is the subtle theme of the spider. Although Mygale spiders do not construct webs, in favor of creating tunnels in the ground, the capture and holding of Vicente is similar to a fly caught in a one. Webs give spiders the freedom to tend to their prey without a chance of escape. Similar to the cave that Robert holds Vicente in, allowing him the freedom to tend to his prey and make him weak before enacting the final step of his plan. The filmmakers have built on this material given to them during the explanation of the sex scene. Richard excitedly states, “You are Eve” (Jonquet 114). While the build up to this moment is cool and calculated in the book, Richard’s sudden manic attitude about his success translates into the quickness of the procedure in the film. Compared to the novel, the film rushes through Vincent’s time in the cave, which lends itself to adding into this idea of Robert’s manic obsession with Vera. While Richard was the calculating spider that sets traps for survival, Robert was the spider that “rushed over” (Jonquet 47). The...