7.6/10
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244 user 83 critic

The Piano (1993)

A mute woman is sent to 1850s New Zealand along with her young daughter and prized piano for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, but is soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.

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Writer:

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ON DISC
Won 3 Oscars. Another 57 wins & 42 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ada
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...
...
Kerry Walker ...
Aunt Morag
Geneviève Lemon ...
Nessie (as Genevieve Lemon)
Tungia Baker ...
Hira
...
Reverend
Peter Dennett ...
Head Seaman
Te Whatanui Skipwith ...
Chief Nihe
Pete Smith ...
Hone
...
Blind Piano Tuner
...
Mana
Carla Rupuha ...
Heni (Mission Girl)
Mahina Tunui ...
Mere (Mission Girl)
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Storyline

It is the mid-nineteenth century. Ada is a mute who has a young daughter, Flora. In an arranged marriage she leaves her native Scotland accompanied by her daughter and her beloved piano. Life in the rugged forests of New Zealand's North Island is not all she may have imagined and nor is her relationship with her new husband Stewart. She suffers torment and loss when Stewart sells her piano to a neighbour, George. Ada learns from George that she may earn back her piano by giving him piano lessons, but only with certain other conditions attached. At first Ada despises George but slowly their relationship is transformed and this propels them into a dire situation. Written by Patrick Dominick <ptd@ccadfa.cc.adfa.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for moments of extremely graphic sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

11 February 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Piano  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£2,301,338 (UK) (10 December 1993)

Gross:

$40,158,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (Dolby 5.1)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite winning an Oscar at a young age, Anna Paquin admitted to David Letterman in 2009 that she had only recently watched the film for the first time at the time of the interview. She was not allowed to watch the film at the time of its release because of its sexual content, being 11 years old at the time. See more »

Goofs

Ada writes a note to George on a piano key, but earlier George had told her that he can't read. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ada: The voice you hear is not my speaking voice - -but my mind's voice. I have not spoken since I was six years old. No one knows why - -not even me. My father says it is a dark talent, and the day I take it into my head to stop breathing will be my last. Today he married me to a man I have not yet met. Soon my daughter and I shall join him in his own country. My husband writes that my muteness does not bother him - and hark this! He says, "God loves dumb creatures, so why not I?" '...
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Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: The Best Films of 1993 (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

All Imperfect Things
Michael Nyman
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Magnificent, symbolic film masterpiece plays beautifully, like a piano.
27 June 1999 | by (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada) – See all my reviews

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 a musical interlude. "The Piano" is her ultimate masterpiece, a film of such simplicity, described with calm and tense complexity. Holly Hunter received an Oscar for her fascinating performance as Ada, a mute woman who is forced into an arranged marriage with a New Zealand landowner, played convincingly by Sam Neill, a native Australian actor himself. Ada journeys to New Zealand 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 her 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 would 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, removing her from marital conventions and forces her to lose herself.

The performances in "The Piano" are particularly good, especially Holly 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 a 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 an exception.

Rarely do we witness real beauty captured on film. "The Piano" is such a 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 nature can be distracting to an audience. "The Piano" dares to follow this symbolic path, and hits a bullseye with full emotional force. Rating: Four stars.


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