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The Piano Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

Writer/director Jane Campion's third feature unearthed emotional undercurrents and churning intensity in the story of a mute woman's rebellion in the recently colonized New Zealand wilderness of Victorian times. Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), a mute who has willed herself not to speak, and her strong-willed young daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) find themselves in the New Zealand wilderness, with Ada the imported bride of dullard land-grabber Stewart (Sam Neill). Ada immediately takes a dislike to Stewart when he refuses to carry her beloved piano home with them. But Stewart makes a deal with his overseer George Baines (Harvey Keitel) to take the piano off his hands. Attracted to Ada, Baines agrees to return the piano in exchange for a series of piano lessons that become a series of increasingly charged sexual encounters. As pent-up emotions of rage and desire swirl around all three characters, the savage wilderness begins to consume the tiny European enclave. Campion imbues her tale with an over-ripe tactility and a murky, poetic undertow that betray the characters' confined yet overpowering emotions: Ada's buried sensuality, Baines' hidden tenderness, and Stewart's suppressed anger and violence. The story unfolds like a Greek tragedy of the Outback, complete with a Greek chorus of Maori tribesmen and a blithely uncaring natural environment that envelops the characters like an additional player. Campion directs with discreet detachment, observing one character through the glances and squints of another as they peer through wooden slats, airy curtains, and the spaces between a character's fingers. She makes the film immediate and urgent by implicating the audience in characters' gazes. And she guides Hunter to a revelatory performance of silent film majesty. Relying on expressive glances and using body language to convey her soulful depths, Hunter became a modern Lillian Gish and won an Oscar for her performance, as did Paquin and Campion for her screenplay. Campion achieved something rare in contemporary cinema: a poetry of expression told in the form of an off-center melodrama. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

  • Release date:December 17, 1993

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Michael Nyman Best Score 1993 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Michael Nyman Best Original Score 1993 Nominee
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Stuart Dryburgh Best Cinematography 1992 Winner
American Society of Cinematographers Stuart Dryburgh Best Cinematography 1993 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Stuart Dryburgh Best Cinematography 1993 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Veronika Jenet Best Editing 1993 Nominee
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Anna Paquin Best Supporting Actress 1992 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Anna Paquin Best Supporting Actress 1993 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Anna Paquin Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 1993 Nominee
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Holly Hunter Best Actress 1992 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Holly Hunter Best Actress 1993 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Holly Hunter Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama 1993 Winner
National Board of Review Holly Hunter Best Actress 1993 Winner
National Society of Film Critics Holly Hunter Best Actress 1993 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Holly Hunter Best Actress 1993 Winner
New York Film Critics Circle Holly Hunter Best Actress 1993 Winner
Cannes Film Festival Holly Hunter Best Actress 1993 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Holly Hunter Best Actress 1994 Winner
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Jane Campion Best Director 1992 Winner
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Jane Campion Best Screenplay 1992 Winner
French Academy of Cinema Jane Campion Best Foreign Film 1993 Winner
National Society of Film Critics Jane Campion Best Screenplay 1993 Winner
National Society of Film Critics Jane Campion Best Director (Runner-up) 1993 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jane Campion Best Original Screenplay 1993 Winner
New York Film Critics Circle Jane Campion Best Director 1993 Winner
New York Film Critics Circle Jane Campion Best Screenplay 1993 Winner
Independent Spirit Awards Jane Campion Best Foreign Film 1993 Winner
Cannes Film Festival Jane Campion Palme d'Or 1993 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Jane Campion Best Original Screenplay 1993 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Jane Campion David Lean Award 1993 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Jane Campion Best Picture 1993 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Jane Campion Best Director 1993 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Jane Campion Best Screenplay 1993 Nominee
Directors Guild of America Jane Campion Best Director 1993 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jane Campion Best Director 1993 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jan Chapman Best Picture 1993 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Janet Patterson Best Costume Design 1993 Nominee

Cast

Holly Hunter
as Ada McGrath
Harvey Keitel
as George Baines
Sam Neill
as Stewart
Anna Paquin
as Flora McGrath
Kerry Walker
as Aunt Morag
Genevieve Lemon
as Nessie
Alison Barrett
Susie Figgis
Diana Rowan
Tungia Baker
as Hira
Ian Mune
as Reverend
Peter Dennett
as Head Seaman
Pete Smith
as Hone
Bruce Allpress
as Blind Piano Tuner
Cliff Curtis
as Mana
Eru Potaka-Dewes
as Pitama
Jon Brazier
as Wedding Photographer
Karen Colston
as Bluebeard's Wife
George Boyle
as Flora's Grandfather
Tungia Baker
as Hira
Eru Potaka-Dewes
as Pitama
Pete Smith
as Hone
Karen Colston
as Bluebeard's Wife
Bruce Allpress
as Blind Piano Tuner
Ian Mune
as Reverend
Jon Brazier
as Wedding Photographer
Peter Dennett
as Head Seaman
Cliff Curtis
as Mana

Crew

Jane Campion
Director
Jan Chapman
Producer
Jane Campion
Screenwriter
Stuart Dryburgh
Cinematographer
Michael Nyman
Composer (Music Score)
Veronika Jenet
Editor
Andrew McAlpine
Production Designer
Mark Turnbull
Associate Producer
Alain Depardieu
Executive Producer
Janet Patterson
Costume Designer
Alun Bollinger
Camera Operator
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