"The voice you hear is not my speaking voice, but my mind's voice."The Piano
is a 1993 erotic-drama written and directed by Jane Campion, produced by Jan Chapman, and starring Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel
, Sam Neill
, and Anna Paquin
(in her first ever
Hunter stars as a mute woman named Ada McGrath who, along with her precocious daughter Flora (Paquin), are shipped off to New Zealand after Ada's father arranges a marriage with her new husband, Alisdair Stewart (Neill). Ada leaves her native early Victorian Scotland, but brings along her beloved piano, which she considers to be her voice, regardless of her silence. Of course, Alisdair doesn't bother with the piano, and it is left on the beach. This leads to Ada's initial reticence at the marriage becoming active hostility, and things become more tense between the newlyweds when Stewart sells the piano to a neighbor, George Baines (Keitel).
Baines proposes a deal to Ada - she can earn her piano back, key-by-key, if she lets him do certain things while she plays. These "things" begin as simple as allowing him to touch her knee through a hole in her stocking, but grow into more overt requests. While Ada initially begins these lessons as a means solely to gain access to her piano, she grows to love Baines, and the two begin a clandestine affair. At the same time, Flora's boredom in the new home leads her to start interfering with the adults around her, and Ada's hatred of Stewart leads him to grow more and more frustrated as things grow ever closer to a breaking point.
It is a very popular film amongst women, often championing the common battle-of-the-sexes debate as to the difference between pornography and erotica: the film has some very explicit sex scenes, but they are very artfully done.
The film received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and was also nominated for 8 Academy Awards, and ended up winning 3 of them; Best Actress for Holly Hunter, Best Supporting Actress for Anna Paquin, and Best Original Screenplay for Jane Campion. It also did very well at the box office, as despite its small $7 million production budget, it earned just over $40 million in North America.
Not to be confused with The Piano Teacher
, or The Pianist
- Academy Award: It won 3 of them (Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress), and was nominated for 5 others including Best Picture and Best Director.
- Ascended Extra: The first thing that people will usually say about the movie will be that Anna Paquin won an Oscar for it. Even people who don't know what the movie is about will know that she won the Oscar for it and many people don't know that Holly Hunter also won an Oscar.
- And I Must Scream: Ada is mute, and doesn't make a sound when Stewart tries to rape her, nor when he cuts off her finger. Made even more unsettling by the fact that Ada is willingly mute and kept quiet because that's her habit.
- Arranged Marriage: Ada and Alisdair's marriage.
- Axe Crazy: Alastair becomes this in the end, in a disturbingly literal way.
- Bittersweet Ending: Ada got a finger chopped off and was nearly raped by the man who was married to her, when he turned psychotic. And she nearly drowns after throwing out her old piano due to bad memories from said psychotic ex-husband. But she and her daughter are safe, she's starting to talk again, and is with Baines, who is a good, decent man.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Alisdair can't understand the values and morals of the native Maori. Likewise, they can't understand his.
- Book Dumb: Baines is illiterate, but emotionally he's one of the most perceptive characters in the film. He is perhaps the only person who can effectively communicate with both whites and the Maori, and the only person who doesn't immediately think Ada is some sort of freak.
- The Cast Show Off: Holly Hunter, an accomplished pianist, played all of the pieces in the film. It should be known that Michael Nyman's score is not easy to play. Possibly also a case of Cast the Expert.
- Chekhov's Axe: Overlapping with Ax-Crazy in one scene.
- Cute Mute: Ada.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Ada
- Determinator: Ada's most defining trait is probably her stubbornness, and she's going to get her piano back. It's also worth mentioning that Ada is mute out of choice, and not because she was born that way. She just doesn't want to talk.
- Disappeared Dad: Flora has never met her real father; he ran off before she was born.
- The Ditz: Nessie
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Alisdair doesn't take much of an active role with Flora, but he clearly disagrees with most fun things Flora wants to do. The piano lessons on a carved table strike him as disturbing, and not making up for the fact that he abandoned the piano on the beach.
- Fingore: Alisdair cuts off Ada's finger in a fit of rage.
- Going Native: Baines shows signs of this.
- Harmful to Minors: Flora watches as Alisdair chops off her mother's finger. Then she has to deliver it to Baines.
- Kids Are Cruel: Flora torments a dog so she can comfort it afterwards.
- Lonely Doll Girl: This is probably why Flora torments the dog in the first place. She has no one to socialize with as her mother increasingly ignores her and Alisdair forbids her to play with the native children.
- Lonely Piano Piece: "The Promise", the score's main theme.
- Loners Are Freaks: Everyone's reaction to Ada for her silence and her general lack of interest in other people.
- Mail Order Bride: Alisdair never met Ada before her arrival, keeping everything together via few sparse letters. Most likely with her father.
- Male Frontal Nudity: Baines.
- Marriage Before Romance: So painfully averted. There is no romance whatsoever between Ada and Alisdair and the longer their marriage exists, the worse it is.
- Missing Mom: Ada's mother is never seen or mentioned.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Baines
- Parental Neglect: Flora spends more and more time unsupervised as her mother visits Baines.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin/Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Ada is pale and dark-haired, but the effect this has on the other characters varies from person to person.
- Sexless Marriage: Ada doesn't allow Alisdair to even touch her.
- Skip of Innocence: Flora does this often.
- Snooping Little Kid: Flora can't keep out of other people's business, and it ultimately causes trouble when she starts talking about what she sees.
- Star-Making Role: For Anna Paquin, who, as mentioned up top, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Alisdair reads this into a game Flora is playing with the Maori children and tells her never to do it again. Technically averted in that Flora is neither traumatized nor trying to be an adult, she was just playing with the other children.
- The Voiceless: Ada
- Woman in Black: Ada wears black dresses through most of the film, making her look all the most pale and ghostly. She finally wears color when she leaves with Baines.
- Yandere: Alisdair