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The Piano [DVD]

64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin, Kerry Walker
  • Directors: Jane Campion
  • Writers: Jane Campion
  • Producers: Alain Depardieu, Jan Chapman, Mark Turnbull
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, Maori
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Eiv
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Oct. 1999
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004RCKA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,282 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Winner of the 1993 Cannes' Palme d'Or for Best Film and Best Actress for Holly Hunter, Jane Campion's third feature was widely hailed as a cinematic masterpiece. With Michael Nyman providing the music, the story centres around Ada (Hunter), a mute Scottish woman sent to New Zealand with her daughter (Anna Paquin) for an arranged marriage to lonely landowner Stewart (Sam Neill). When she arrives with her beloved piano in tow, Stewart forces her to leave it on the beach rather than lug it through the jungle. The estate manager, Baines (Harvey Keitel), watches and listens in amazement when Ada visits the beach to play and subsequently he makes a deal with Stewart to keep it at his own house. Baines is enchanted by both the piano and Ada and eventually makes a bargain of sexual favours whereby Ada can win back the instrument.

From Amazon.co.uk

Jane Campion's The Piano struck a deep chord (if you'll excuse the expression) with audiences in 1993, who were mesmerised by the film's rich, dreamlike imagery. It is the story of a Scottish woman named Ada (Holly Hunter), who has been mute since age 6 because she simply chose not to speak. Ada travels with her daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) and her beloved piano to a remote spot on the coast of New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a farmer (Sam Neill). She gives piano lessons to a gruff neighbor (Harvey Keitel) who has Maori tattoos on his face, and, well, things develop from there. The picture takes on a powerful dream logic that simply defies synopsis. It's a breathtakingly beautiful and original achievement from Campion, a unique stylist. The Piano won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Oscars for Hunt, Paquin and Campion's screenplay. --Jim Emerson

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By L. Black on 18 Nov. 2006
Format: DVD
The Piano is an amazing tale of lust, envy, jealousy, betrayal and female identity and independence. Set in the mid nineteenth century, Ada McGrath is shipped off with her daughter Flora and their scant belongings to New Zealand, the reason being her arranged marriage to a somewhat successful land owner. Ada's beloved piano makes the journey with her.

The visually haunting opening scene of her arrival on the beach is perhaps one of the most haunting movie openings I think I've ever seen. From the beginning you sense her suffocating sense of misplacement and isolation, her sense of being out of place in the rain drenched, mud soaked South Island is overpowering (you have to remember this was way back when the area was hardly populated except by natives and there were few roads etc).

Holly Hunter excells, as usual, in her role, deservedly winning an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of a woman who chooses to be mute and has not spoken since she was six years old. Ada's true love, is her piano, which is her emotional and symbolic voice, being her most powerful expression of emotion and spirit. Ada takes an instant dislike of her new husband (Sam Neil) when he refuses to bring her piano up from the beach, and when an illiterate neighbour George Baines (played by Harvey Keitel) decides to bring her piano to his home, he strikes up a deal with her, formulating a way for her to earn it back. He proposes that for every lesson she gives, he gets to perform one sexual act. In the beginning, Ada despises George for his immoral, lustful blackmailing, however slowly, tacitly, their relationship transforms into a strong emotional and intellectual bond, and their lives spiral down into a frenzy of lust, deadly jealousy, envy and tragedy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The CinemaScope Cat TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 Feb. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In the mid 19th century, a mute woman (Holly Hunter) and her young daughter (Anna Paquin) travel from Scotland to New Zealand where a marriage to a frontiersman (Sam Neill) has been arranged by her father. The husband is a coarse somewhat confused man but his friend (Harvey Keitel) possesses a sensitivity that eventually wears down her emotional resistance. This haunting, evocative film directed by Jane Campion (who won a best original screenplay Oscar for this) won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival and it's a remarkably sensitive portrait of a woman without a voice, literally of course but metaphorically without a voice in the society of her time. Even her marriage is arranged by her father and no explanation is given to why she simply stopped talking at age six. Hunter's career best performance (Cannes film festival and Oscar best actress awards) is stunning as is the remarkable performance by a then 10 year old Paquin (unlike most child actors, there isn't a false note in her performance) who won the supporting actress Oscar. The score by Michael Nyman is one of those rare scores that become a very part of the film's fabric and the exquisite cinematography is courtesy of Stuart Dryburgh.

The Optimum DVD from the U.K. is a pristine anamorphic wide screen (1.85) transfer with an audio commentary by director Champion, an interview with composer Michael Nyman and a vintage making of documentary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By thetruthshallsetyefree on 27 April 2012
Format: DVD
This is an unusual story, which gives nothing away and thereby keeps the viewer captivated throughout.

All the characters are quite disagreeable people: aggressive, selfish, narrow-minded and each utterly determined to get their own way. So a bristling tension is quickly established and simmers along beautifully right to the end.

The actors are very convincing within the context and setting of the movie - there is absolutely no Hollywood glamour sneeking in the backdoor here - and the performances are intense, with many claustrophobic scenes to heighten the drama. These are contrasted with the delightful windblown beach scenes and exceptional soundtrack.

The poor attempts at Scottish accents by those non-scots actors was distracting though and the writer/director should simply have allowed the actors to speak in their own voices.
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By H. A. Weedon TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 July 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a real film about real people struggling to survive in the early days of European settlement in New Zealand. In particular it's about a Scottish woman, Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), her strong willed young daughter Flora (Anna Paquin), Ada's piano and a 'gone-native' settler played by Harvey Keitel. Ada travels from her native Scotland to become the bride of Stewart (Sam Neill), but turns against him when he refuses to bring her beloved piano up off the beach onto which it has been ferried ashore from the ship that brought Ada and Flora into the bay. The half gone native settler helps Ada by buying the piano and installing it in his shack, after which Ada visits him regularly ostensibly to teach him how to play it and they rapidly grow to love each other.

Daughter Flora plays a vital role in bringing everything to a head from which final resolution is achieved. It would be hard to find a better child actor anywhere than Anna Paquin who performs precisely as one would expect any young girl to behave and all the other players are equally convincing. There are no caricatures here and we are, mercifully, a vast distance from anything resembling clichéd Hollywood caricaturisation. It's not often that we find films as well made and acted as this one.

My copy of this work plays excellently on my Blu-ray DVD player, which makes me wonder about all the fuss made by some reviewers concerning its quality. However, I'm not reviewing the disc; I'm reviewing the film. My contention is that one cannot downgrade star rating just because the quality of a disc is deemed not to be up to standard. So I end by saying that this film is most certainly a five star masterpiece, which I would rate as one of the greatest films ever made.
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