The Piano (1993)
A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she's soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.
Magnificent, symbolic film masterpiece plays beautifully, like a piano.
There are very few female directors in the film industry that have been
given proper acknowledgment or had their works introduced to mainstream
filmgoers. Jane Campion is one of these precious few, a director who
carefully paces and sculpts her works so that they magnificently flow like
musical interlude. "The Piano" is her ultimate masterpiece, a film of such
simplicity, described with calm and tense complexity. Holly Hunter
an Oscar for her fascinating performance as Ada, a mute woman who is
into an arranged marriage with a New Zealand landowner, played
by Sam Neill, a native Australian actor himself. Ada journeys to New
with her young daughter (Anna Paquin, also an Oscar-winner that year), few
other possessions, and her treasured piano, a part of her that amplifies
voice that she cannot express through vocal communication.
I believe it would be wrong to assume that any of the characters are
martyrs in this tragic story, nor would it be right to think Sam Neill's
character a villain. You may think this is crazy, but I think the piano
itself serves as both a good and bad omen for all that are involved. I
relate it to a "Pandora's box" of sorts, a treasure that exposes all the
evil and sin in the world, but which also provides hope as well. The piano
is Ada's sounding box, a tool that allows her to escape from a world that
does not understand her, but that also threatens her moral compass,
her from marital conventions and forces her to lose herself.
The performances in "The Piano" are particularly good, especially
Hunter's. It is interesting to note that all of Hunter's piano playing in
the film is actually Hunter herself performing in front of us. You can
visually and aurally feel the mood of Hunter's character through the music
she plays. We the audience lose ourselves right along with her, lost upon
sea of music. We see why Keitel becomes enamored by her, and why Neill
becomes overcome with jealousy and betrayal. Not many films would allow us
to enter the emotions of all three main characters, but this film is truly
Rarely do we witness real beauty captured on film. "The Piano" is such
visually stunning film, it's almost intoxicating how its atmosphere sweeps
across the screen. This landscape is equaled by the performances, bringing
understanding and mystery to this wonder. Sometimes symbolism of this
can be distracting to an audience. "The Piano" dares to follow this
path, and hits a bullseye with full emotional force.
Rating: Four stars.