The piano 1993 by jane campion
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THE PIANO 1993 by Jane Campion. Emille, Emily, Joyce, Lisa, Pova, Ruth, Wendy. Thesis –Pova Movie Background Post- colonial Influences – Emily Movie Plot -- Joyce Themes – Ruth – Oppression of Women and Aborigines and their Resistance/Survival

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The piano 1993 by jane campion l.jpg

THE PIANO 1993by Jane Campion

Emille, Emily, Joyce, Lisa, Pova, Ruth, Wendy

Outline l.jpg

  • Thesis –Pova Movie Background

  • Post-colonial Influences – Emily

  • Movie Plot -- Joyce

  • Themes – Ruth –Oppression of Women and Aborigines and their Resistance/Survival

  • Character Analysis -- Lisa & Pova – Women’s Process of Individuation

    • Colonizer (1): Stewart money-oriented, possessive

    • Mother-Daughter symbiosis

    • Baines as a Translator: marginalized, trading at first, but recognizing her values

    • Flora vs. Ada – Pova – Flora’s gradual isolation and then socialization (e.g. Emille -- Angel’s wings)

  • Symbols – Emille -- Piano as her means of self-expression  piano key as a gift  Ada’s inner voice/will power can be heard by Stewart her throwing out the piano piano music with metal sounds (a new identity?)

  • Aborigines (race and racism)

  • Conclusion

  • Works Cited


Thesis l.jpg

The Piano is a narrative that critiques European patriarchy and societal norms during the 19th century through the presentation of different relationships within characters. 

It shows that rebellion against deeply embedded social structures is possible and necessary in order for the subaltern to grasp a voice and speak. 


Movie background l.jpg

  • New Zealand became the colony of UK, and there were increasing numbers of European settlers to New Zealand particularly from the British Isles. 

  • In The Piano, Steward and Baines are colonizers from European.

  • Movie Background

    Post colonialist influences l.jpg

    • European men buying land very cheaply 

    • Marriage as just an economic/ contractual arrangement (Ada as a commodity)

    • Stewart (and Baines) as a symbol of repression and the European colonizer

    • Maoris- cheated/ stripped of ancestral lands; Baines using their language to manipulate/ bargin with them for the land (ironic)

    • Interactions of gender and race--> discrimination and bad treatment

    Post-colonialist Influences 

    Themes l.jpg

    • Patriarchal oppression of women and aborigines

      • Construction of sexuality in 19th century colonial New Zealand within the power structures of the times

        • E.g. skirt and laces

        • E.g. women’s piano playing

      • The Story of Blue Beard (Blue Beard vs. Steward)

      • Silence (Ada's silence and Maori's silence)

    • Ada’s Self-Preservation and Domestication

      • Voice (Ada: Mind's voice vs piano

      • Music (before and after)

      • Her marriage and learning of language

      • the transformation of mother-daughter relationship


    Character analysis ada l.jpg

    • ego/ self-concerned

    • (looks and kisses her reflection in the mirror)

    • strong willed (live vs. die/ fondles Steward...etc.)

    • innermost thoughts- her piano

    • expression to the world- Flora (interprets the sign language)/ her writing pad

    • Ada-Stewart vs Ada-Baines

    • a gap between Ada and Stewart, the separarted unknown past and disconnection as a married couple

    • Baines as an escape of Stewart

    • abandons her piano in the end and lives in the town- sacrifice part of her identity/ Ada's change

    Character Analysis-Ada

    Flora vs ada analysis l.jpg
    Flora vs. Ada Analysis


    • lonely, dogs and imagination as companion, tree episode

    • made-up stories about her parents' story  

    • change of affection from Ada-Stewart and then back to Ada after the finger trauma

      Flora- Ada

    • intimate in the beginning, but then grew apart with Ada due to Ada's secret (Ada-Flora vs. Naomi-her mother,  the Old Man Gower episode)

    Stewart vs baines l.jpg
    Stewart vs. Baines

    • Stewart (May not know himself, “civilized”, Egoistic, possessive, repressive, dominant)

    • Baines (may be escaping from past events, avoiding the present like Ada who is isolating herself, at the beginning objectifies Ada until giving the piano back to her-sign of respect, )

    •  Stewart vs Baines

    • Attitude Stewart Baines piano

    • Ignore, Important thing

    • Maori

    • Respect/tattoo land profitable

    • Ada Cherish her

    • Baines and Flora both act as intermediates

    • Stewart's castration and reversion to a childlike state 

    Symbols l.jpg

    • Piano (圖) The losing of the piano at the end symbolizes how she decides to open up and be silent no more (learns to speak, conforms to society…etc) and REBIRTH, the death of her reliance on the piano and the start of her new life

    • Rope (link Ada and piano)

    • The metal finger (how it changed her music playing, made Baines a part of her, )

    • Angels wings- child innocence/ cathartic moment


    Slide12 l.jpg











    Aborgines race and racism l.jpg

    • Civilization–European cultural values

    • The relationship between the colonized and the colonizer (Stewart/sisters-Maori, Baines-Maori)

    • The Maori in the movie- ignorant, innocent,imitating colonizer--> what effects this has on natives (they touched the piano/ the reaction when watching Blue Beard play....etc. )

    • Does the director have any responsibility to make the true aborigine voice heard?

    Aborgines (Race and Racism)

    Slide14 l.jpg

    Aborigines subaltern cannot speak

    • Maori's voice, can they speak?

    •  do they really just serve as a background? a character 

    • what point(s) does campion want to say about them in this film?

    • cultural differences? 

    • how they are oppressed --> but the movie shows them innocently happy??. this leads back to how they are a background

    Conclusion l.jpg

    • The contrast between repression (voice of silence) and oppression (brutal behavior); the contrast between civilized (or "apparent civilization") and uncivilized. 

    • Ada's discovery of her sexuality and her rebellion against Stewart's possessiveness suggests how her anger and voice could be expressed through actions.

    •  Ada's rebellion also shows how the European colonizers' quest for power and settling new lands was a transparent system that easily crumbled to show a hidden dark side of injustice, cruelty, and insecurity.


    Works cited l.jpg

    Works Cited

    Sound track l.jpg
    Sound Track oppression (brutal behavior); the contrast between civilized (or "apparent civilization") and uncivilized. 

    Ada’s music --

    • It's as though I had to write the music of another composer who happened to live in Scotland, then New Zealand in the mid-eighteenth fifties. Someone who was obviously not a professional composer or pianist, so there had to a modesty to it. Except that Holly Hunter played Ada playing the piano with enormous dedication and intensity. …

    • Since Ada doesn't speak, the piano music … becomes a substitute for her voice. The sound of the piano becomes her character, her mood, her expressions, her unspoken dialogue, her body language.” (source)

    Sound track18 l.jpg
    Sound Track oppression (brutal behavior); the contrast between civilized (or "apparent civilization") and uncivilized. 

    Ada’s music --

    • "The Heart Asks Pleasure First/The Promise“/”The Sacrifice” -- Ada theme

      • [missing the piano] 23:40

      • [playing the piano on the beach]

      • [3rd lesson] [5th lesson lying by him  Blue Beard]

      • [running to Baines; attempted rape by Steward]

      • [being punished by Stewart]

    • “Deep Sleep Playing”

      • music played while asleep 1:21

      • When knowing that Baines is leaving 1:25

    Sound track19 l.jpg
    Sound Track oppression (brutal behavior); the contrast between civilized (or "apparent civilization") and uncivilized. 

    Ada’s music –

    • Chopin’s music (Chopin Op. 7 no. 1 Mazurka in B flat major )

      • [1st lesson] 2nd performance 36:49 –stopped by Baines

    • “The Scent of Love”/ "Big My Secret“

      • [The piano is moved to Baines’s] 32:57

      • 2nd lesson --[when Flora is excluded] 40:06

      • Ada with her piano back, lost 1:08

      • The embrace and the sex scene1:12

    • “The Mood That Passes Through You

      • [6th lesson]: the nude scene] 58:14

    • 4th Lesson 47:50 her own music  Chopin

    • “From Here to There”

    • The last piano lesson – Chopin again