The piano is a 1993 movie (Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival) directed by the New Zealander Jane Campion with Holly Hunter as the protagonist and two exceptional co-protagonists: Harvey Keitel and Sam Neill. The movie was nominated for a number of Oscars and it won three of them, all for women: Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin for her supporting role (you may remember her for being Rogue in Brian Singer’s X-men), and Jane Campion as screenwriter. Have you seen the movie? I suggest you to watch it, as it’s an extremely well done movie and it touches upon a number of interesting themes.
What’s The piano about? Holly Hunter is a mute Scotswoman who’s sent to New Zealand to live with Sam Neill, a frontiersman and, now, her husband. She goes there with her daughter, Anna Paquin, and her piano, that she loves and whose sound she considers as her voice. After a boat trip that we can imagine being very harsh, the life that awaits her doesn’t seem less so: an inhospitable windy and rainy land, a rough house without any comfort, a husband whom she doesn’t love (and who immediately abandons her beloved piano at the beach where she lands), and a number of aboriginal workers with which she will never get to establish any connection. Is there something positive in the life of poor Holly Hunter? Well, there is Harvey Keitel, the only other white male in the area, which firstly recovers the piano and then clumsily tries to establish a relationship with her.
I don’t want to write more about the plot, as I don’t know how many people remember this movie. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you to do so. The actors are all great, including the kid, and the director manages to transmit us the humidity, coldness and hostility of the world with great mastery. The movie develops a number of interesting themes, none of them trivially. It deals with reciprocated and non-reciprocated love, with honor and loyalty, with what’s considered violence, both physical and non-physical, with survival instinct and the sense of sacrifice… All these mix in the stories of the four protagonist, that is mother and daughter and the two frontiersmen. The music is used very well, both the one played by the protagonist and that of the soundtrack. The ending, rather than being needlessly tragic, uses a metaphor and therefore manages to be extremely powerful with the juxtaposition between the two Hunters (you’ll understand when you watch it). Surprisingly, it’s not even a sad ending, but it opens up to hope, something which was not granted given the developments of the plot in the central part of the movie.
The only thing I feel like criticizing is the use of the aboriginals, which are there just to increase the credibility of the setting rather than to serve the plot. Even when it seems that they do have a purpose (in the theater scene, and when they complain about their salaries), it all comes to nothing. Except this, The piano offers a lot to think about and it is also entertaining, thus I cannot but recommend watching it.