The Piano

1993 film directed by Jane Campion

The Piano is a 1993 film about a mute woman who, along with her young daughter and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, where she's soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.

Directed and written by Jane Campion.

Ada McGrath

  • The voice you hear is not my speaking voice - but my mind's voice. I have not spoken since I was six years old. No one knows why - not even me. My father says it is a dark talent, and the day I take it into my head to stop breathing will be my last. Today he married me to a man I have not yet met. Soon my daughter and I shall join him in his own country. My husband writes that my muteness does not bother him - and hark this! He says, "God loves dumb creatures, so why not I?" 'Twere good he had God's patience, for silence affects everyone in the end. The strange thing is, I don't think myself silent. That is because of my piano. I shall miss it on the journey.
  • What a death! What a chance! What a surprise! My will has chosen life! Still it has had me spooked and many others besides!
  • I teach piano now in Nelson. George has fashioned me a metal finger tip, I am quite the town freak which satisfies! I am learning to speak. My sound is still so bad I am ashamed. I practice only when I am alone and it is dark.
  • At night I think of my piano in its ocean grave, and sometimes of myself floating above it. Down there everything is so still and silent that it lulls me to sleep. It is a weird lullaby and so it is; it is mine.

Flora McGrath

  • One day when my mother and father were singing together in the forest, a great storm blew up out of nowhere. But so passionate was their singing that they did not notice, nor did they stop as the rain began to fall, and when their voices rose for the final bars of the duet a great bolt of lighting came out of the sky and struck my father so that he lit up like a torch. And at the same moment my father was struck dead my mother was struck dumb! She never spoke another word.

George Baines

  • [to Ada] Do you know how to bargain, nod if you do. [she doesn't move] There's a way you can have your piano back. Do you want it back? You want it back?You see I'd like us to make a deal. There's things I want to do while you stay. If you let me you can earn it back. What do you think, one visit for every key.
  • [to Ada] I have given the piano back to you. I've had enough. The arrangement is making you a whore, and me, wretched. I want you to care for me. But you can't. It's yours, leave. Go on, go.
  • Ada, I am unhappy because I want you, because my mind has seized on you and thinks of nothing else. This is how I suffer, I am sick with longing. I don't eat, I don't sleep. If you do not want me, if you have come with no feeling for me, then go! Go! Go NOW! Leave!

Alisdair Stewart

  • [to Baines] Understand me. I am here for her, for her I wonder that I don't wake, that I am not asleep to be here talking with you. I love her. But what is the use? She doesn't care for me. I wish her gone. I wish you gone. I want to wake and find it was a dream, that is what I want. I want to believe I am not this man. I want my self back; the one I know.


Stewart: What would you think if someone played a kitchen table like it were a piano?
Aunt Morag: Like it were a piano?
Stewart: It's strange isn't it? I mean it's not a piano, it doesn't make any sound.
Aunt Morag: No, no sound.
Stewart: I knew she was mute, but now I'm thinking it's more than that. I'm wondering if she's not brain affected.
Aunt Morag: No sound at all?
Stewart: No, it was a table.
Aunt Morag: Well, she was very violent with the gown. She tore off a chunk of lace. If I hadn't been there I'd have sworn she'd used her teeth and wiped her feet on it.
Stewart: Well it has not yet come to anything. Just a concern.
Aunt Morag: Oh, yes, yes of course, a concern.
Stewart: There is something to be said for silence.
Aunt Morag: Oh indeed.
Stewart: And with time she will, I'm sure, become affectionate.
Aunt Morag:Certainly, there is nothing so easy to like as a pet and they are quite silent.

Ada: [signing] I have told you the story of your father many many times.
Flora: Oh, tell me again! Was he a teacher?
Ada: Yes.
Flora: How did you speak to him?
Ada: I didn't need to speak. I could lay thoughts out in his mind like they were a sheet.
Flora: Why didn't you get married?
Ada: He became frightened and stopped listening.

Flora: Actually, to tell you the whole truth, Mother says that most people speak rubbish, and it's not worth it to listen.
Aunt Morag: Well, that is a strong opinion.
Flora: Aye. It's unholy.

Flora: I know why Mr. Baines can't play the piano. She never gives him a turn. She just plays whatever she pleases and sometimes she doesn't play at all.
Stewart: And when is the next lesson?
Flora: Tomorrow.

Stewart: Where's your mother? Where's she off to?
Flora: To Hell!


Wikipedia has an article about: