Jane Champion 'the Piano' Essay

2550 words - 10 pages

The release of the Jane Champion's The Piano in 1993 was almost a shocking event and till today is thought to be provoking. The movie has become the focus of the intensive debates about the postcolonial New Zealand and its neocolonial present. It is about the feminine desire and institutional moderation with in the marriage. It is about the psychological complexity of the human relations and love. The issues raised in the movie remain vital in the contemporary cultural studies. They include the possibility of the alternative forms of desire and human intercourse, the impediment of the aspirations to the postcolonial citizenship that does not put into the morass of the racial and identity politics. In this essay I will discuss the above issues and how they are depicted both in the movie and real life.

While reviewing the central debates which emphasize the feminine agency, the strange sense of irresolution is created. The feeling that some major issues were not fully developed and the author abandoned then, left alone to be resolved. The strange love story is presented which is set in a "specific location and historical, socio-political context, in addition, this love story undoes itself" (Silverman 1988, p. 5). Ada struggles to achieve the faithfulness of her own desire in the environment which hinders it. Through articulation of the nature Campion ironically asks the question if her "representation of the relationships among the landscapes and racial hierarchy" (Quart 1993, p. 2) is not in fact unreconstructed.

The minimal space of the colony is used to dramatize the destabilization. The movie destabilizes identities position regarding the race and gender. The author suggests that the colonial structure depends on the subordination and feminization of Maoris. As well the "subordination of women in the hierarchical structure is depicted..., the setting of the Piano underlines that Stewart is a representative of the postcolonial white masculinity" (Quart 1993, p. 5) in New Zealand.

Moreover, the film has received a lot of critique for portraying woman's self-assertion. However, many of the critics underestimate the role of Baines, Ada's partner. There is a noticeable effort done by the filmmakers to show "the way to the redemption of the white male colonial person" (Halprin 1994, p. 2) in depicting Baines. He is the third figure in the love triangle with Ada and Stewart and is an important person who is first rejected by Ada but later warmed by her after realizing that he has unsounded depths.

I would suggest that it seems that Baines, as a representation of masculine sexuality is even more important in the movie than the feminine sexuality. Ada is not the only woman in the film and other females are represented in the setting of the complex hierarchies of race and class. Nessie is presented as infantile and insignificantly jealous and dreaming. Ann Morag is naïve and controlling. Her naivety is even...

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