Ada is a mute woman who travels with her daughter and piano from scotland to bush country new zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner. The relationship sours when her husband trades her beloved piano to the... more »ir neighbor baines. Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 02/01/2005 Starring: Holly Hunter Harvey Keitel Run time: 121 minutes Rating: R Director: Jane Campion« less
The movie I give five stars, but unfortunately one of the main aspects that made this film so special, the beautiful photography, was lost on the DVD representation. On DVD tbe picture comes off as jumpy, and not just little- lot! Like the bad camera shots used in B-rated horror films. Something that is unnoticeable on the VHS edition.
On the VHS the scenes and movements are flawlessly fluid. I think I will hold on to it until a remastered DVD is released. I certainly hope it is something that will be done in the near future.
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Exquisite erotic classic
seasidewanderer | Portland, OR United States | 08/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jane Campion's "The Piano" does what many truly great films do: It inspires fascinating discussion and provokes mixed reactions. The male friend with whom I saw it back in 1993 and I were so enthralled that we kept our significant others waiting to leave for our respective Christmas vacations because we kept phoning each other to discuss symbolism and interesting themes in the movie. While I continue to absolutely love the film, I also recognize why some viewers have not shared my reaction. Perhaps you have to have at least considered a forbidden love affair or perhaps you have to have found yourself trapped in a relationship where you feel you have lost your voice to appreciate what Campion explores.The story centers around Ada (Holly Hunter in an Oscar-winning performance) and her daughter, Flora (Anna Paquin--who also won an Oscar for her extraordinary performance). They leave their upper-class home in Scotland after Ada's father (apparently) arranges her marriage. Ada, who has willed herself not to speak since age 6, expresses herself through her beloved piano.The true story of who fathered Flora is never revealed in the movie, but the context suggests that she is Ada's illegimate child born from an illicit affair. The hinted-at story of Flora's conception provides a key to understanding both why Ada later begins an affair with her New Zealand neighbor Baines (Harvey Keitel) and why she makes a mail-order marriage in the first place. I suspect that Ada's aging father may have wanted to see her settled--preferably far away so that her unconventional behavior would no longer be a source of social embarassment--and given Ada's muteness and out-of-wedlock child, her father probably couldn't find a suitable suitor in mid-Victorian Scotland. Stewart (Sam Neill) first encounters his future wife on a lonesome gray beach surrounded by her crated belongings. His Maori porters begin carrying many household items up the muddy path to his dreary homestead. But Stewart refuses to bring the piano along, despite Ada's apparent distress and Flora's pleas that her mother MUST have her piano.Ada's piano, abandoned on the barren New Zealand beach, captures the sense of what 19th century colonial life might have been like for too many women--treasured possessions, the last ties to "civilization" left behind.Rendered voiceless without her piano, Ada begs Stewart to return for her instrument through notes and more pleas from Flora. Finally she persuades Baines--a colonist whose tattoed face evidences the extent to which he has "gone native" and who is considered less civilized by his neighbors--to guide her back to the beach. Ada comes to life again as she, at last, gets to play. Drawn by her passion for the piano, Baines arranges with Stewart to trade land for the piano. Without consulting his wife, Stewart assures him that Ada will provide lessons too.During first of these lessons, Ada strikes her own bargain with Baines, whom she still considers a boor: She will trade sexual favors to earn back her piano, one key at a time. Ultimately, her reluctant bargain grows into full-blown love and passion. The dark, brooding tone of "The Piano," however, suggests that something in this situation will go tragically, and probably violently, wrong.Campion has filled her movie with haunting piano music (actually played by Hunter) and intriguing imagery. The metaphor of piano as voice and losing and regaining one's voice, Flora's role in changing her mother's fate, the question of whether Ada's bargain reflects a woman taking control of her life or just being victimized in a different way, and many other complexities make this a movie worth watching again and again and again."
If Looks Could Kill
gobirds2 | New England | 03/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE PIANO is a very unusual, enigmatic and haunting film. To say anything less would be incredulous. It is a story set in some remote coastal hills of a very bleak eighteenth century New Zealand overrun by dense jungle, mud, the elements and crude natives. Ada (Holly Hunter) and her young mischievously meddlesome daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) arrive on the New Zealand beach to meet Stewart (Sam Neill) whom has arranged to marry Ada. Ada, as we discover in the prolog is a woman who has not spoken since she was 6 years old. She is not only mute but strangely introverted and repressed. A piano, which Ada has brought with her, is her only means of expression. The ex-seaman ex-whaler Baines (Harvey Keitel) is a rather crude looking character who becomes enchanted by Ada's piano, which has been left on the beach. He retrieves it, buys it and then has Ada barter for its return setting the conflict of personalities and their repressed feelings into motion. Ada's mute playing of the piano is juxtaposed by her piercing dark eyes focusing from her face shrouded in ever so pale white skin. Her looks are riveting and disturbing. The image of Paquin's face is unnerving. As the film progresses we see that the primary characters are truly misunderstood from what our initial impressions had ascertained them to be. This is an exceptional film that you have to watch and listen to closely because of its very subtle nature that envelops your senses. The characters and the actors that portray them are brilliantly presented. Stuart Dryburgh's cinematography is equally important because the images on the screen take on a life and spirit of their own in this haunting film."
Disturbing - Beautiful - Brilliant
K. W. Miller | Washington, DC | 09/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I missed this movie in the theaters 10 years ago, and saw it for the first time purely by chance on HBO recently. I was so enchanted that I watched each of the next three showings in the very same day, and then bought the DVD for my collection. It is one of the most unique, truly deep, thought provoking, awe-inspiring, movies I've seen in a while. The drama is almost Biblical, the love story almost Shakespearian in quality (think Othello). I was enraptured by the music, the crashing waves, and the amazing synergy between the players. And Harvey Keitel - who knew? Those gangster/tough guy roles just don't even touch this man's talent. George Baines is intense, tender, passionate, a total jerk - so it would seem - but underneath the gruff exterior lies the heart of a prince. Keitel really puts it all out there, literally and figuratively. It's a risky role and it works for him.Holly Hunter was spectacular, as usual, but in this film the fast-talking, high-energy woman you came to know in "Broadcast News" or "Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom" must dig deep. Ada's silences surpass powerful, she conveys more with her facial expressions than most people say out loud in a lifetime. Speech is clearly an overrated and overused form of communication. Ada's will is almost a character onto itself. And one can see clearly that no one is more surprised by her emerging emotions and unfolding events than she.Sam Neill's character is sad, broken, pathetic, frightening, and your basic worst nightmare all at once. Jealousy is indeed and ugly and and devastating emotion.I disagree with a few of the other reviewers about Anna Paquin's character, Flora. Some saw Flora as innocent. Watch closely. She's diabolical, almost schizophrenic. She has the wide-eyed, innocent visage of a pathological liar. Note the scene with the photograph, the dog under the porch, her conversations with the other women in the village (where you begin to see her turn on her mother as she realizes that she's being replaced as the center of her mother's universe) and when her final act of betrayal results in horrific violence (don't think for a second that she didn't know what she was doing), then note her repentence, and subsequent absolution (the soiled angel wings in the river), and her redemption. Miss Paquin could never be considered a "child star" she's already shown more maturity than many adults in film today.And of course, the Piano, the center of it all, Ada's voice, the music in this movie is so moving and expressive, so perfect for each scene. My next purchase is the soundtrack.In sum, heart-achingly beautiful, devastatingly real and dream-like all at once. I highly recommend."
BookMania | Stafford, TX, USA | 01/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a hauntingly somber movie, and that's precisely why I enjoyed it so much. This movie contained the entire package that, when delivered, evokes a reaction that is sure to stay with the viewer long after the end credits are shown.In the style of the classic novel "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, this movie is the story of a single mother named Ada (Holly Hunter) who comes to New Zealand with her daughter, Flora (Anna Paquin), in order to meet a local farmer named Stewart (Sam Neill) who has arranged to marry her. They come with their belongings, none more sentimentally valuable than Ada's piano. However, reasoning that it is Ada's duty to make sacrifices in the interest of the family, Stewart trades the piano to a neighbor named Baines (Harvey Keitel) for the rights to some farming land. Little does Stewart realize that Baines knows exactly how precious this piano is to Ada, and he makes this trade in an attempt to make a play on her affections. Stewart arranges for Ada to go over to Baines' house and teach him to play the very piano that belonged to her. Ada and Baines work out an arrangement where in lieu of teaching Baines how to play the paino, she will instead play the piano for him and allow him to use her in order to fulfill his carnal fantasies. In exchange, Baines will eventually give the piano back to Ada. As time goes by, Ada goes as far as sleeping with Baines in order to work off the debt she owes him for her piano, but after a while, Ada's trysts with Baines are no longer for the sake of earning her piano back, but are voluntary. She develops feelings for Baines, much to the chagrin of her husband, who locks Ada and Flora up in their house in order to prevent them from going to Baines' house.There were some brilliant performances in this movie. Though Anna Paquin's character only plays a small part in moving the story along, her screen presence is extraordinary. She was one of the youngest actors to ever win the Academy Award, and her Oscar was much deserved. Holly Hunter also won an Oscar for this movie, and it, too, was well deserved, especially considering the fact that she didn't utter a single word for the entire movie. The strength of her performance relied solely on her acting ability, and could not be assisted with the influence that there voice might have carried. Of the males in this movie, Harvey Keitel does a sold job as a rather homely farmer, but the real credit must go to Sam Neill as Ada's husband. The tantrums that he throws are very realistic and incredibly compelling.Also worthy of mention is the movie's incredible art direction and cinematography. The entire movie takes place in a gloomy beachfront and forest. The lack of sunshine and sheer dismalness complements the haunting performances and plot.I would have given the movie a 5 star rating, but I wasn't satisfied with the ending. Though I won't tell you which of the two men Ada ends up choosing, it's my opinion that both men were scummy, and neither deserved her. But you can draw your own conclusion. This is an excellent movie, and I highly recommend seeing it."