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New digital restoration supervised by director Jane Campion.

Jane Campion made her fourth NYFF appearance with this singularly haunting and beautiful tale of a mute, 19th-century Scotswoman (Holly Hunter) and her young daughter (Anna Paquin), who travel to remote coastal New Zealand, where the woman, Ada, has entered into an arranged marriage with a middle-aged bachelor (Sam Neill). Though Ada has traveled halfway around the world with her beloved piano–her preferred means of communication with the outside world–her new spouse deems it too cumbersome and leave it stranded on the beach. Eventually, he trades it to Baines (Harvey Keitel), a local eccentric who has taken on the customs of the Maori natives (including their elaborate facial tattoos), and who agrees to sell the instrument back to Ada one key at a time in exchange for certain favors of the flesh. Soon, this quid pro quo erupts into a deeply erotic and passionate affair. The film that confirmed to audiences worldwide the boldly original talent already on display in Campion’s previous Sweetie and An Angel at My Table, The Piano won the Palme d’Or at Cannes as well as three Academy Awards, for Hunter and Paquin’s revelatory performances and for Campion’s screenplay. In addition, Campion became only the second woman in history nominated for the Best Director Oscar. Print courtesy of Academy Film Archive.

“A film of fierce and original beauty.” —NYFF31 program note

“This is a film about that commonplace genius, the human will, set in the semitropical frontier of New Zealand, with muddy oceans and wild shores. The sense of place, of spirit, and of silence is Wordsworthian. The love story needs so little charm or romance. And in the very severe look of Holly Hunter as her heroine, Campion found the rare poetry of The Piano. No one has better caught the mix of sensitivity and ferocity in the human imagination. The Piano is a great film in an age that has nearly forgotten such things.” —David Thomson