270 user 92 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
2,421 ( 58)
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:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The theme tune is called "The Heart Asks Pleasure First" on the soundtrack album. See more »


Ada writes a note to George on a piano key, but earlier George had told her that he can't read. 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 Conceiving Ada (1997) See more »


The Grand Old Duke of York
Performed by Anna Paquin
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User Reviews

Powerful communication without words.
7 January 2004 | by csac6590astridSee all my reviews

"The Piano", directed by Jane Campion, is a haunting film about love, passion, betrayal and refusal set in the 19th century. Ada (Holly Hunter), sent to New Zealand on an arranged marriage, arrives with her daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) and her precious piano on a stormy gray beach. Her husband Stewart (Sam Neill) leaves her beloved piano on the beach after having decided that it is too heavy to transport it inland. He does not recognize what this means to the mute Ada, who expresses her emotions with the "voice" of her piano. Baines (Harvey Keitel), who has taken on Maori ways, is deeply moved by Ada and her "voice". He gives Stewart a piece of land in exchange for the piano and offers Ada a deal to earn it back.

Repulsed by Baines' crude appearance, Ada reluctantly accepts the deal to play the piano in his hut while he does "things". Submerged erotic desires and passion slowly set free between the unlikely pair during the piano sessions. Both Baines and Stewart become obsessed by Ada's powerful, intensely suggestive form of unuttered communication. Completely bewildered, Stewart asks Baines if had ever heard Ada speak a single word to him, claiming that he could hear her voice in his mind.

The breathtaking, beautiful imagery as well as its stirring music (Michael Nyman) contribute to the romantic, mystifying atmosphere of the film. "The Piano" won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Oscars for Best Actress (Holly Hunt), Best Supporting Actress (Anna Paquin), and Campion's screenplay. Holly Hunter's outstanding performance conveys impressively a woman's ability to express herself without words. "The Piano" is one of the best films I have seen so far.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site


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
See full technical specs »

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