271 user 93 critic

The Piano (1993)

1:32 | Trailer
In the mid-19th century, a mute woman is sent to 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.


Jane Campion


Jane Campion
1,827 ( 119)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 61 wins & 56 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Holly Hunter ... Ada McGrath
Harvey Keitel ... George Baines
Sam Neill ... Alisdair Stewart
Anna Paquin ... Flora McGrath
Kerry Walker ... Aunt Morag
Geneviève Lemon Geneviève Lemon ... Nessie (as Genevieve Lemon)
Tungia Baker Tungia Baker ... Hira
Ian Mune ... Reverend
Peter Dennett Peter Dennett ... Head Seaman
Te Whatanui Skipwith Te Whatanui Skipwith ... Chief Nihe
Pete Smith ... Hone
Bruce Allpress ... Blind Piano Tuner
Cliff Curtis ... Mana
Carla Rupuha Carla Rupuha ... Heni (Mission Girl)
Mahina Tunui Mahina Tunui ... Mere (Mission Girl)


It is the mid-nineteenth century. Ada cannot speak and she 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 neighbor, 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


Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Holly Hunter learned to play the piano when she was nine years old and played most of the piano sequences herself. See more »


Pianos of the period portrayed in the film were made almost entirely of wood, no metal framing at all, and the piano would therefore float, not sink. See more »


[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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Referenced in Hinter Gittern - Der Frauenknast: Tödlicher Irrtum (1999) See more »


The Heart Asks Pleasure First/The Promise
Michael Nyman
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User Reviews

art house trash
15 June 2002 | by ssizerSee all my reviews

I'm sorry I sat through this awful movie. The situation is asinine: Ada, Holly Hunter's character, is a voluntary mute who chooses not to speak. Ever (Care to try that for a month? A day?). Not when her finger gets chopped off. Not when she finally responds to Harvey Keitel's sexual advances. She's the mail order bride to Stewart (Sam Neil), who actually turns out to be a very decent and understanding guy. But no matter; he's made to fit the formula: stuffy, uptight Victorian Englishman versus sensuous, sexual native Harvey Keitel. This is stereotyping of the worst sort; some might call it racist (but this is a feminist film, and feminists CAN'T be racists, can they?) I found myself much more sympathetic with Stewart, as did my wife. And as for child actress Anna Paquin: hard to believe that this insufferable, puling brat won an Oscar for this thing! My main reaction to her performance was that I kept wanting to smack her (oops! How abusive of me!) Oh, yeah, the 'music' Hunter's character plays on her beloved piano: new age minimalist dreck. You'd think a little Chopin would perhaps be a bit more in keeping with the period in which the action is set. I mean, why put Holly Hunter in a period costume and then have her noodle away on a genre of music that wasn't even invented yet? See what I mean by asinine? Yes, the New Zealand scenery is beautiful. So rent a travelogue.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

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New Zealand | Australia | France | USA

Release Date:

11 February 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Piano See more »

Filming Locations:

Auckland, New Zealand See more »


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$151,419, 14 November 1993

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo | Dolby (Dolby 5.1)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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