Improbable classic

Director Jane Campion’s 1993 film The Piano is considered a “classic” of the cinema by the Times which examines the merits of the film starring New Zealand actress Anna Paquin, Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel. Campion, now 55, was among cinema’s auteur elite because The Piano was the first directed by a woman ever to win the coveted Palme d’Or. Nine months later, Campion received a best director Oscar nomination for the film, becoming only the second woman ever put up for cinema’s ultimate prize. To some, the wide international success of The Piano was improbable because, like Campion’s other films, it explores the dangerous mysteries of female desire. “What preoccupies Campion,” wrote Manohla Dargis in the Los Angeles Times, “is how women become decisive and take the leap, how they plunge into unknown waters, shed inhibitions (and clothes) and … breach the citadel of their individual selves by acting on desire.” What may surprise those who don’t follow such things is that The Piano has become one of the most discussed and deconstructed film texts in academia, inspiring an entire academic industry, in fact. With the benefit of hindsight, there’s no doubt The Piano is one of the most important and best-loved films of the past quarter-century. It seems to touch people, especially women, on extraordinarily deep emotional and psychological levels. Yet what had, at the time, seemed like a trailblazing moment for women in cinema now looks like an appallingly embarrassing anachronism. Today, it remains the only film directed by a woman in the almost 70-year history of the Cannes festival to take the top prize.


Tags: Academy Awards  Anna Paquin  Cannes  Cannes Film Festival  Jane Campion  Times (The)