Site Search:

The Piano



Anna Paquin recieved an Acadamy award nomination for her acting in this Jane Campion movie.


Set in 19th Century New Zealand. A woman who refuses to speak, her piano and her daughter, are sent to New Zealand for an arranged marriage.

Ada (HOLLY HUNTER) has not spoken since she was six years old. No one knows why, not even Ada. Now in her twenties, with an illegitimate young daughter Flora (ANNA PAQUIN), a marriage has been arranged for her, with a man she has never seen and she sets sail from England in 1870 for a pioneer settlement in New Zealand. Ada arrives on the lonely shore with her daughter, boxes of household belongings and her precious piano. There is no one to meet them. The seamen do not like to leave them but Ada insists, signalling her wishes to Flora who translates. They camp as best they can on the beach, sheltering behind the piano.

Next morning her forty-year old husband to be, Alisdair Stewart (SAM NEILL), his younger friend George Baines (HARVEY KEITEL) and a group of Maoris arrive to escort them back to the settlement. He is nervous, speaks too loudly as if she is deaf as well as dumb, and cannot understand her dismay when he insists the piano must be left behind. They are married by a Missionary as soon as they arrive, with Stewart's Aunt Morag and her best friend Nessie to witness the wedding. Stewart then leaves on business without consumating the marriage. While he is away Ada pesters Baines to take her back to the beach and her piano. the cannot move the piano, but Baines watches in fascination as Ada plays passionately and Flora dances on the shore.

Baines offers Stewart some land in return for the piano and in return, Stewart offers Ada as a teacher. She is furious but Stewart insists. Silent and stony-faced, she goes to Baines' cabin with Flora but refuses to give a lesson because the piano is out of tune. Baines returns a few days later with an old man who tunes the piano. When Ada returns for the next lesson, Baines asks her to play while he listens. Ada no more wants to be listened to by Baines than to teach him but soon loses herself in the music.

Seduced by her playing, Baines leans forward and kisses her neck. She freezes. He then offers her a deal - she can buy back her piano key by key with sexual favours. Silently, Ada agrees. The disgruntled Flora is now excluded from the lessons, left to play with the dogs on the porch. At each lesson, after watching Ada play, Baines makes his request - to see her legs, her breasts, to kiss her, to lie down beside her - and Ada names her price. He becomes increasingly fascinated by her, and cannot bear to see Stewart holding her hand during an amateur play at the mission. Stewart laughs at his lack of progress in playing the piano until Flora tells him that only Ada plays during the lessons.

Baines decides to give Ada the piano back - he wants her to love him for himself, not be his whore. But now that she has it, Ada is reluctant to play. She keeps looking over her shoulder wanting Baines to be there. Stewart is confused and suspicious. He follows Ada to Baines's hut and watches as they make passionate love. Jealous and angry he barricades her into his hut, not letting her out unless supervised. Ada is frantic, and when she hears from Nessie that Baines is leaving, sends Flora with a message scratched on a piano key. Stewart intercepts Flora and, in a rage, cuts off one of Ada's fingers with an axe. He then sends the terrified girl to Baines with the bloody finger.

Ada is desperately ill through loss of blood and fear for Baines. Stewart tells her he loves her and wants a proper marriage. She does not respond and he climbs on her to take her by force. But under her steady and pleading gaze, he stops. Stewart rushes to Baines's hut, not to kill him, but to tell him that Ada has "spoken" to him, telling him of her need for Baines.

Together Baines, Ada and Flora leave from the beach she arrived on. They are warned that the piano is too heavy and will tip over the boat, but Baines says Ada must have it. Ada signals to the Maori boatmen to tip the piano overboard. For a moment it seems that Ada will go down with her piano, but she struggles free, back to the surface and to a new life with Baines.

For more detailed information about this movie or any other New Zealand film please go to the New Zealand Film Commission

Reviews / Comments for The Piano

Rating Averages


"Smile spa is my home of beauty care. The dedicated team there has pampered me with treatments including dental whitening with my fabulous Hygienist, Cheryl.
Everything they have done has far surpassed my expectations. Smile Spa is truly world class!"

Laural Barrett, Miss Universe New Zealand 2007

Did you find this review useful? +3

Developed by Wetstone Technologies