BERNHARD SCHLINK’S ‘THE READER’
The story of a taboo love and sex scenes between a fifteen-year-old boy Michael Berg and a forty-year-old woman, Hanna Schmitz is not a matter of general social agreement and acquisition. In particular, considering the fact Hanna is a former female guard of the Nazi labor camp in Poland and she used to send young women to death to Auschwitz. The cover of “The reader” book after 2008 and a movie adaptation depicts two naked lovers and a special 18+ marking in the corner. Bernhard Schlink does his best to involve his readers into a complete story of emotions, trust, and distrust, shame and guilt with additional interest to the historical background.
After-war Germany of 1950-1960s with its still bleeding issues and a dark shadow of the Second World War is the key point and narrative guideline of The Reader Bernhard Schlink. Poor color image of a city of Heidelberg is depicted by means of personal perception of Michael Berg as a narrator. Fifteen-year boy gets accidentally acquainted with Hanna Schmitz, a mature woman and tram conductor. After revealing the dark past of our main female character, Bernhard Schlink throws two generations of Germans together. Young students visit public trials of Nazi war criminals and form their attitude on the events, they have not experienced, as their parents did.
The second part of The Reader book by Bernhard Schlink with the now-adult Michael Berg is turned out to be an extreme dip to the events of the initial chapters. How should we consider the intentions of Hanna Schmitz, who has given her instant care over the women in a labor camp? Was it an act of pure compassion or an evil design of the darkest parts of her soul. Bernhard Schlink does not involve us deeply in some legal procedures within the trials to touch a maximum audience. The Reader book (Der Vorleser) is a piece of easy-to-understand literature.
Speaking about sex scenes in The reader and close relations between Hanna Schmitz and Michael Berg, the issue itself is presented as an emotional conflict and a metaphor to reveal the after-war dissociation in Germany. These scenes of intimacy are depicted without odious enthusiasm but as a part of the narration. What is more important is the issue of illiteracy – a brilliant motive, included by Bernhard Schlink in his The Reader novel. Michael Berg reads complete books such as “War and Peace” and lovers spend hours just to satisfy the moment and closeness.
THE READER MOVIE. HANNA SCHMITZ AND MICHAEL BERG
The movie refers to a small number of films, which capable to provoke a variety of viewers’ emotions throughout the story. Most of these sophisticated credits go to the original The Reader book by Bernhard Schlink, which has been adapted with accuracy. The Reader movie shocks spectators with an unpleasant scene when Michael Berg pukes on the street. Then, a childlike proposal to take a bath to wash coal, transformed into a sex scene between a boy and a mature woman. These taboo relations go the extra narration mile throughout the next chapters and develop a sense and logical meaning. Michael is ashamed of this strange love with Hanna Schmitz and he fails to tell anybody about his troubles.
The Reader sex and nude scenes between Kate Winslet (Hanna Schmitz) and David Kross (Michael Berg) in fact expose more than just bodies of the performers, but a variety of social issues. In this sense, sex relations between a pupil and a tram conductor is only the tip of the iceberg. The Reader movie reaches the issue of personal responsibility, of the Holocaust and crimes of the Nazi concentration and death camps, of the social succession and the ‘lost generation’. The point of social harassment, dispraise or approval becomes a key point of the story. Hanna Schmitz is frightened to admit to her illiteracy as well as Michael is afraid to reveal their relations deep inside.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE BOOK AND THE MOVIE
Not the most obvious and plot stunning, but maybe the most valuable differences between The Reader book by Bernhard Schlink and The Reader movie deal with the illiteracy of Hanna Schmitz. The film adaptation omits a number of small scenes that form the understanding of this Hanna’s shame.
- It took some time for lovers to exchange their names. Michael Berg is surprised as he has previously left his school books and papers on Hanna’s table multiple times with his first and second name on the cover.
- The movie omits a scene of arguing between two lovers. While spending time in the rural, in Amorbach, Michael had once wakened up early to buy breakfast and flowers for Hanna. He made a note and left it near the bed. Hanna made trouble for nothing, denying the existence of the note as she, in fact, could not read it because of her illiteracy. She had to throw it away or destroy it.
- Michael Berg reveals the cause, why Hanna has denied two promotions, first within the Siemens factory and then being a tram conductor. Both promotions demanded in-service training and. Of course, reading and writing skills.
- Hanna Schmitz admitted that it was she who had written the report after the fire. But in fact, it was not her doing as Hanna could not write. She made this desperate false confession to avoid handwriting comparison, which would obviously reveal her illiteracy.
- Hanna Schmitz was unable to perform proper preparations for the trial. The prosecutor gave her all the appropriate documents, including the book of the girl survivor.
After strong doubts, Michael Berg decides to meet the Chairman of the Court to reveal the fact of Hanna Schmitz’s illiteracy. But he finally fails to tell about their relations and just listen to the college. Movie adaptation does not include this scene.
Michael Berg in the book strongly memorizes the image of Hanna, while pulling on her stockings. Even years later he asked another woman to repeat this pose, but has never ever satisfied with the process.
The Reader book (Der Vorleser) depicts another important scene to understand the characters and their inner motives. After Michael claims to ignore studying, Hanna raises hell arguing. Nude Hanna Schmitz puts on her working belt with tickets and coins. She emphasizes that Michael has to do his best to avoid this kind of work as a tram conductor.
The Reader movie points out the fact that Hanna was disappointed claiming her as a mother to Michael. Hanna within the Bernhard Schlink novel does not hide her head on this fact.
The book depicts a whole week with Michael to be home alone, while his parents went off the city. Michael makes an agreement with his younger sister. He even steals some cloth from the store to please her and another one for Hanna.
Michael Berg in the book (Der Vorleser) visits Auschwitz to understand the trial of Hanna Schmitz and the Holocaust. Bernhard Schlink sends his character to the Shutoff concentration camp, near Strasbourg.