NEW ZEALAND: The Piano (1993)

The Piano is a 1993 film that was a huge critical and commercial success – directed and written by Jane Campion, it follows Ada, a young Victorian widow as she sails to New Zealand to remarry a settler. Ada is mute from trauma, never fully explained but related to the death of her first husband, and brings along her daughter and her beloved piano. It’s the piano even more than the daughter that brings her solace, and she ends up caught in romantic machinations and jealousy. She tries to make the best choices for her survival and for her sanity, especially as someone who is largely isolated, both deep in the woods and with her muteness, and prey to the whims of the men around her, but she also has to navigate her own complex emotions. I won’t spoil it, but the haunting final “what if” ending of her joining her piano’s fate sticks with you.

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