“The Reader” is Based on the German novel of the same name by Bernhard Schlink, a lawyer, judge and an academic in addition to be a novelist, published in 1995. The film that was produced by Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack (who both died before the release of the film) was directed by Stephen Daldry, a playwright with many works in London and Broadway who turned to the feature filmmaking from 2000 with “Billy Elliot” then “The Hours” in 2002 before making “The Reader” in 2008 with the assistance of the screen writer, David Hare.
A Nation’s tale of Redemption:
The film opens in the present time of 1995 when Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes), a German lawyer by looking through the window of his apartment seeing a rapid transit car that triggers a flashback in his mind riding a tram in Berlin as a teenager in 1958. The 15 year old Michael (David Cross) feels sick after getting off the tram to the point of vomiting by an apartment building. Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet), a 36 year old tram conductor returning home from work, passing by him and feeling empathic, taking him upstairs to her flat, cleans him and walk him to his home.
Michael develops fever and has to rest for a few day, but as soon as recovers, he returns to Hanna’s place to thank her with some flowers. While she is getting dressed for work, Michael sneaks up on her that provokes him sexually when his eyes fall on her naked legs putting on her stockings, but as a virgin young boy, he runs out in shame. From then on Hanna will become the subject of the young man’s obsessive attraction and keep following her at work on the tram and at her flat. In one of these visit at her apartment, she asks him to bring her some coals for her heater that makes him all blackened dirty. She will undress him and bathes him like a mother to her boy. This inflames the sexual temptation in both and leads to a long sexual relationship.
While the sexual acts fulfill Michael, Hanna demands more and asking him to read her from his books and novels that he studies in school, each time before sleeping together. Book after book is read and Hanna’s thirst for learning does not seem to end. After returning from a bicycle trip to the country side with Michael, Hanna learns that she has been promoted to a clerical job at the tram’s company that prompts her to vacate and leaves her flat without informing Michael or we as the viewers knowing the reason.
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The Greatest films of all time: 94.The Reader (Germany/USA) (2008)