I know that The Piano(1993) directed by Jane Campion is a film about New Zealand while it was a colony. Jane Campion is an famous New Zealand director who won a award at the Cannes Film Festival for her first short film. The Piano is about Ada and her daughter Flora who are sent to live in imperial New Zealand. Ada is mute and is married off to a Land Owner Alisdair Stewart who tries to control her. Ada plays the piano and communicates through the instrument as well as sign language, which empowers her. The Piano‘s a feminist film because Ada uses alternative modes of communication like in the film The Question Of Silence. Here are some of my new ideas. I want to warn you that there are some spoilers in this post. I think you should watch The Piano because Ada is a feminist hero in many ways:
In her essay “The return of the repressed? Whiteness, femininity, and colonialism in The Piano“, Lynda Dyson writes that the “piano” in the film represent the male dominated imperial world. Dyson argues that when Ada agrees to throw her piano into the ocean she is “severing her connection with the imperial” world.
As I see it, Ada doesn’t belong with the imperial world. Rather she is struck silent very much like Christiana is in The Question of Silence (see my blog entry The Question of Silence Recommendation). Men have taken away Ada’s power. She does not speak because nobody will listen to her. Ada’s father married her off to Stewart who refuses to listen to the pianist’s desire to bring the piano from the beach to her new home. Ada uses her daughter Flora to voice her desire to bring her piano to her new home. Stewart first refuses. Not only that, but Stewart locks her in his home because she doesn’t love him and loves another man, Baines. Ada chooses not to be a part of the imperial power because in that world all choices are made by men.
Ada’s piano playing represents a subversive female way of communicating. As Stewart’s Aunt states, Ada does not play the piano like a ordinary musicians instead she uses it to communicate feeling. The music resonates deeply beyond “normal” playing. She never truly communicates with other people who buy into imperial ways. Ada uses the piano to express a piece of her soul. She takes out a key to express her feelings toward Baine. Since Ada does not use her voice to express her feelings, the piano which truly expresses her emotions are used to tell Baines that she loves him .
The piano clearly is not a imperial force it’s the opposite. That’s why Stewart who is the ultimate land owner and imperialist tries to destroy the piano with an axe. He believes that he must destroy the piano because male imperialists must put their mark on “objects” they owned. In Stewart’s mind he owns Ada. The piano and Ada are one so he must get rid of the piano to show he owns her. Stewart wants to destroy the piano because the instrument empowers Ada and allows her to express herself or communicate in a non-normative way and he does not want her to have any power.
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