Ada (Holly Hunter) has been mute since she was six. She travels from Scotland with her daughter (Anna Paquin) and her grand piano to colonial New Zealand, for an arranged marriage. After her husband, a stoic settler (Sam Neill), sells the piano to Baines (Harvey Keitel), Ada and Baines come to a secret agreement. She can win her piano back key by key by playing for him, as he acts out his desire for her. A major hit in Europe, Jane Campion's dark drama is the only Kiwi film to have taken the top award at the Cannes Film Festival. Hunter and Paquin won Oscars, as did the script. Warning: the third excerpt contains violence.
[Jane Campion] takes the breath away not by conventionally spectacular effects, but by the simple audacity of her choices about where to put the camera and what to show.– Critic Vincent Canby in The New York Times, 16 October 1993
Jan Chapman Productions
Produced with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission, & the New South Wales Film and Television Office