Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Piano


The Piano; Drama, Australia/ New Zealand/ France, 1993; D: Jane Campion, S: Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Kerry Walker, Geneviève Lemon

Scotland, 19th century. Ada became mute ever since her husband died, thus now her little daughter Flora talks for her. When her father arranges a marriage for her, Ada leaves for New Zealand with Flora. There she meets her new husband, Stewart, but has to leave her beloved piano on the beach. The half wild George, who lives with the Maori and gave Stewart a part of his land, gets the piano and persuades Ada to give him piano lessons. Slowly, George seduces her and makes her lie naked in bed, but then gets ashamed afterwards and returns the piano to her. But she falls in love with him and Stewart cuts her finger off when he finds that out. Ada and Flora leave him and join George, dropping the piano in the sea.

"The Piano" is the most famous and representative movie by director Jane Campion who became the first woman to win the Golden Palm in Cannes thanks to it - shared with "Farewell My Concubine" - while the movie also won 3 Oscars (best actress Holly Hunter, supporting actress Anna Paquin, screenplay), one Golden Globe (actress Holly Hunter) and 3 BAFTA awards (actress Holly Hunter, costume and production design). It's a matter of a heavy drama, but refreshingly feminine and truly virtuoso directed, enriched with amazing landscapes of New Zealand and interesting art iconography filled with unusual camera angles, while the only weak spot is the tedious end. Already the sole exposition intrigues: besides the image of Ada holding her hands in front of her eyes, there can be heard the voice of the narrator: "The voice you hear comes inside me. I'm mute". Though Hunter never says a word during the entire film, except for that narration, her mimics exceptionally sum up everything there is to be said. Equally strong are the scenes in which Ada's fingers "play" on the table, imaging it's the piano, or when Flora tells how her father was killed by a stroke of lightning, and immediately there is a small animated insert of him burning out.

Grade:+++

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