In the 1850s, Ada (Hunter), a mute Scottish widow with a young daughter, agrees to an arranged marriage with Stewart (Neill), a colonial landowner in New Zealand. Set in the mid-nineteenth century, along the perpetually rainy and muddy coast of New Zealand, where Ada (Holly Hunter), a mute woman from Scotland who hasn't spoken a word since she was six, is sent along with her young daughter Flora (Anna Paquin), in an arranged marriage (polite way of saying, sold by her father) to Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neill) a wealthy landowner. From the outset, Campion's remarkably strong sense of visual storytelling and attention to minute detail is on display. Stewart finally arrives the next morning along with Baines (Harvey Keitel), a former whaler, and his group of Maori workers. The images are seldom what you'd normally describe as beautiful but they are impressive their own way. Of course with a film titled The Piano, you also need a strong musical score to succeed, and Michael Nyman does a wonderful job here. Yeah, there are lots of beautiful looking films, but I found this impressive because the beauty is not just a pretty composition, but in the depth of emotion that each image holds.
I have not The sad thing is I have only seen it once, and that was on VHS I but after reading your review about the music from Michael Nymann It makes me want to pick up the soundtrack more then watch the movie. I decided I wanted to watch this a couple yearsback when I got into True Blood and realized Anna Paquin is so great.
Highlighting foreign, independent, and cult cinema that many may not be aware of.In the hopes of encouraging others to explore a film they've never seen, or revisit one that they adore again.
The way she expresses her feelings is by playing her cherished piano, left behind on the beach by her new husband.
It premiered at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or, shared with Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine.
A brief sequence narrated by Ada's mind's voice gives us a little back story of her life and her circumstance, before we are taken to the grey windswept South Island beach, where they land.
In the short sequence on the beach, and with a bare minimum of dialogue, Campion immediately tells us everything we need to know about the main characters. It's almost always cloudy, rainy, and mud is everywhere, but every single frame here has amazing depth.
To the outside world she's 'dumb' and 'stunted', but thanks to Hunter's terrific performance, we see that her inability to speak doesn't prevent her from being strong willed, intelligent, and passionate.
Generating emotional resonance with beautiful solo pieces that take the place of Ada's speech.
Before this I was mainly watching just blockbusters and this one helped open my eyes to appreciate filmmaking more. Kudos to Jane Campion and cinematographer, Stuart Dryburgh!Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin are wonderful together in roles that seem tailor made. I agree with what you said about how the music becomes the voice of the Holly Hunter character. I agree Keitel didn't seem to be the right fit at first, but he does somehow make it work.
For somereason I just turned it off after ten minutes and sent it back to netflix withouta second try. Another settler, George (Keitel), buys it, arranges for lessons with Ada, and soon the duo begin a grand passion leading to a cruelly calculated revenge. It's wet and stormy and her husband is nowhere to be seen, so the pair must spend the night on the cold beach with only a hooped petticoat for shelter.
Stuart Dryburgh's cinematography and Campion's mise-en-scene combine for some incredibly evocative sequences that bring on a full range of emotions.
The relationship that develops between her and Baines is strange, a little perverted even, but genuinely human.
She takes a story that could easily be predictable or sappy, and creates something entirely original, lasting, and worthy of all the awards. The absolute travesty of this was Michael Nyman wasn't even nominated for the score at the Academy Awards.

Fiercely poetic and well acted (with Keitel in a notably romantic role), though the film may be too dark and intense for some.
Using a cold palette, you can almost feel the chill of the wind and the mist of the surf, and there are two unforgettable scenes featuring a lone piano in unusual environments. While a young Anna Paquin steals the show; her character Flora mirrors her mother somewhat, but she has a quick devilish wit and a fiery will of her own. All the other nominations (7) were given to women (screenwriter and director Jane Campion, producer Jan Chapman, costume designer Janet Patterson, editor Veronika Jenet and actresses Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin a rare feat. In the original story, the main character (Bluebeard’s current wife) escapes her psychopathic husband and finds happiness elsewhere.
Among the actresses she considered were Sigourney Weaver, Anjelica Huston, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche and Madeleine Stowe.
In an arranged marriage she leaves her native Scotland accompanied by her daughter and her beloved piano. Life in the rugged forests of New Zealand’s North Island is not all she may have imagined and nor is her relationship with her new husband Stewart. Ada learns from George that she may earn back her piano by giving him piano lessons, but only with certain other conditions attached.
At first Ada despises George but slowly their relationship is transformed and this propels them into a dire situation. Ada has not spoken a word since she was six years old, expressing herself instead through her piano playing and through sign language for which her daughter has served as the interpreter. Ada cares little for the mundane world, occupying herself for hours every day with the piano.
As there is no one there to meet them, they spend the night alone, sheltering under a tiny tent made of a hoop skirt frame. The following day, Alistair arrives with a Mori crew and his friend Baines (Harvey Keitel), a fellow forester and a retired sailor, who has adopted many of the Maori customs, including tattooing his face and socializing with the Maori instead of his own race (save Alistair). Ada, in turn, makes no effort to befriend him and continues to try to be reunited with her piano. Unable to communicate with Alistair, she goes, with Flora, to Baines and asks to be taken to the piano. While he socially allies himself with the Maori, Baines has steadfastly refused any sexual activity with their women. Baines eventually retrieves the instrument and suggests that Alistair trade it and lessons from Ada for some land that Alistair wants. She is surprised to find that he has had the piano put into perfect tune after its rough journey. Alistair finally begins to suspect the love affair and after discovering them, he angrily boards up his home with Ada inside when he goes off to work on his timberland. After that interlude, Ada avoids Baines and feigns affection with Alistair, though her caresses only serve to frustrate him more because when he makes a move to touch her in return, she pulls away.
While being rowed to the ship with her baggage and the piano jammed into a rowboat, Ada feels that the piano is ruined as she can no longer play and insists that Baines throw the piano overboard.
She is rapidly pulled deep underwater connected by the rope to the piano but then she changes her mind and kicks free to be pulled back into the boat.In an epilogue, Ada describes her life with Baines and Flora in Nelson, England, where she has started to give piano lessons in their new home, and her severed finger has been replaced with a silver digit made by Baines. Jane Campion is one of these precious few, a director whocarefully paces and sculpts her works so that they magnificently flow likeamusical interlude.
Holly Hunterreceivedan Oscar for her fascinating performance as Ada, a mute woman who isforcedinto an arranged marriage with a New Zealand landowner, playedconvincinglyby Sam Neill, a native Australian actor himself. You may think this is crazy, but I think the pianoitself serves as both a good and bad omen for all that are involved. It is interesting to note that all of Hunter’s piano playing inthe film is actually Hunter herself performing in front of us. You canvisually and aurally feel the mood of Hunter’s character through the musicshe plays.

We see why Keitel becomes enamored by her, and why Neillbecomes overcome with jealousy and betrayal. Not many films would allow usto enter the emotions of all three main characters, but this film is trulyan exception.Rarely do we witness real beauty captured on film. This landscape is equaled by the performances, bringingunderstanding and mystery to this wonder. It combines masterfulscripting,cinematography, performances, and musical score into a disturbing, erotic,and ultimately uplifting piece. The movie’s heroine, wonderfully portrayedby Holly Hunter, is mute (symbolic of the fact that she has no say in herown life), with her daughter (the astonishing Anna Paquin) and her piano asher personal obsessions. Her conscripted husband, coldly played by SamNeill, is trying to win her heart and her desire in all the wrong ways,while his crude tribal neighbor, sensually played by Harvey Keitel,understands her needs and ultimately captures her … physically,intellectually, and romantically.
But the sensuous portrayal of Harvey Keitel and HollyHunter and the complex acting of a young Anna Paquin allow this storyto ring true.
I was skeptical upon viewing a film so lauded by criticsand film snobs, but found myself both moved and connected to the filmthat holds strangely relevant themes for modern times. Keitel and Hunter give excellent performances within a sensitive and sensual screenplay, while Anna Paquin is impressive as Ada’s wise daughter, always watching and always aware. And Harvey Keitel- having gone native- by marking his body in thenative style- gives a truly sympathetic and daring performance. At times I actually felt thedampness of the scenery… most of all it explores the regions of the heart-through the innovative music and the body language of Hunter. The performances arestunning across the board and, this time, worthy of Academy Awards.There are some very sensual scenes and scenes of great danger.
Holly Hunter plays Ada with a fierce and gracefulflowing note and deservedly won her awards. Although there are certainly men who enjoyedthis movie, I can understand why a lot of men would fail to appreciateit, simply because so much of its sensual potency deals with what isinextricably feminine.I just watched it for the the first time in ten years, and I was aswowed by it as I was the first time.
If you told me I would ever findHarvey Keitel sexy, I would have called you crazy…but ooh baby!
Theman sees her inner passion and is transfixed, then reaches out to herwith a graphicness that is somehow also tender, almost reverential. Willful as she is, once her heart is given, it becomes impossiblefor her to do other than to seek him out.
To think that The Piano was nominated for 8 Oscars in ’94 and won 3 (2of them big ones) I expected so much more from this movie. She didn’t say a word throughout theentire film (except for voice overs at the beginning and end), and doesnothing but look sad and withdrawn the whole time. Itmust’ve been a pretty bad year in Hollywood for this trash to be nominatedfor so many awards and win 2 big ones. A mute girl is arranged to marry some guy who lives in the woodssomewhere, wants nothing to do with him, is forced to teach his friend,George Baines the piano, who is a perverted sicko (Keitel)…. So, shedoesn’t like her husband, wants nothing to do with him, and then suddenlyfalls for George, who was only degrading & offensive to her the whole time? But again, why was this the case when she was trulyAda’s only real companion…her DAUGHTER for crying out loud!?!?!
At NO POINT in the film did I feel she was in control of things, except herlame & minimal attempts at showing affection to her husband by rubbing hisbody, in which he then trusted her again not to see George and remove thebarricades from the windows.
Some control she had with her hand was on thechopping block!I’ve seen a pattern with Jane Campion.

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