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The Piano [DVD]
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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
The casting is good and the roles are played with sensitivity and skill. The film has a dream like quality throughout that draws you in but never confuses. Excellent!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
one of the best ever. saw it few times and each time it was like magicPublished 7 months ago by Naomi orin