There is no doubt that every good movie has at least one distinctive moment. There is always a scene that you can easily recall or strongly remember in every film you’ve ever enjoyed. It’s never the same for everyone, but there will always be at least one scene… With this in mind, there are a few movies that possess more than a select few. Some films swamp you in memorable sequences from beginning to end — The Piano being one of them.
In the 1850s, a mute woman, along with her daughter is sold by her father to a wealthy landowner in New Zealand. Back then, arranged marriages weren’t uncommon. Ada, played by Holly Hunter, arrives with her daughter, played by Anna Paquin with all her belongings, including her piano. Ada has a really strong relationship with her piano, it’s not simply for her entertainment; it’s her way to express herself, to communicate with the world. Her husband Alisdair, played by Sam Neil, considers the piano both a luxury that he can’t afford to maintain, and a piece of furniture that he has no room for. He abandons it at the port, disregarding Ada’s strong, but speechless protest.
Ada, who can’t imagine her life without playing, goes back to the port the next day in order to get her piano, only to find out that it has been sold by her husband to George, played by Harvey Keitel, a worker on the plantation. When Ada finds George and asks for her piano back, George offers her a deal; she can buy back her piano bit by bit — a key every time she plays for him while he can do whatever he likes. Even though to begin with, Ada detests him, soon enough they fall for each other. As is expected this doesn’t go unpunished and as soon as Alisdair finds out, he decides to take revenge.
The Piano is a really interesting movie — in the category of those that you can’t forget, because all aspects are combined perfectly. The actors, the screenplay, the direction each contribute equally to this movie. The scenery of the vast forests, the combination of the green plantation with the wilderness of the sea creates a beautiful atmosphere where primitive meets cultural elements. Michael Nyman’s music dominates the whole film, capturing and expressing all the emotions and feelings that Ada has to reveal through her playing.
Written and directed by Jane Campion, The Piano won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival and 3 Oscar Awards of the 8 that it was nominated for. Additionally, its soundtrack is one of the best-selling soundtracks available – and for good reason. The Piano is a movie that, despite referring to an era almost two centuries ago, feels contemporary as the viewer realises that love, anger, revenge and lust are always present, no matter the time.