The Piano: 25th Anniversary Review & Film Festival News

The Piano
The Piano.

How’s it hanging? Okay, over at the Barnes Film Festival blog I’ve reviewed The Piano, which is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Recently, I was offered the blog editor role (much to one’s delight), so I’m self-promoting it big time to my loyal, moronic readers. Some support would be welcome, should you be so kind as to direct it my way. Oh, plus it’s a lovely film that proved a landmark occasion for female directors – yes!

The Piano

Jane Campion directed what’s considered by film critics as her masterpiece. It launched in May 1993 and immediately pulled in a vast amount of critical acclaim. It’s about a mute Scotswoman called Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) whose father has bought into an arranged marriage with a frontiersman (Sam Neill) in New Zealand.

He doesn’t take kindly to the piano she’s brought with her and insists there’s no room for it in his home. Eventually, local retired sailor Baines (Harvey Keitel) buys it from him – a distraught Ada decides to do whatever it takes in order to get her beloved instrument back.

It’s a haunting film with excellent performances, a beautiful soundtrack, and some spectacular set pieces (the image of a piano on the beach is particularly striking), but the film also broke impressive ground. A surprise box office smash hit, it scooped up many awards, including three Oscars, plus the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festical (Campion was the first, and still only, woman to achieve that).

Barnes Film Festival

Also, having risen to the position of Supreme Ruler (i.e. editor) of the Barnes Film Festival blog, we’re in the process of sourcing some new writers. If any passionate film buffs reading this would like to contribute once, or on a regular basis, feel free to get in touch via the About page. We encourage a progressive outlook with themes of first time directors, women in film, the environment, but also whatever the heck else you’d like to cover.

The festival runs annually in late September and this is its third year. There’s an international vibe to proceedings, this being London after all, but the focus is on students in the local area, with the University of Roehampton (where we went, years back) nearby. Heck, it’s an opportunity to celebrate, and support, upcoming filmmakers. Bien!


  1. Congratulations on your new appointment at the Barnes Film Festival blog. As you know, I will be contributing in the reasonably near future.
    Holly won an Oscar for this! I did get to work with her about a decade later. She is very amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw that movie on first release! Really enjoyed it. Oddly, a piano really was left below high-tide mark on the beach in the Wellington district in January 1840, a spinet, it’s in NZ’s national museum today (and no, I haven’t tried to play ‘Louie Louie’ on it.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is there any explanation for how it ended up there? I like the idea of a piano at a beach, but it’s quite an inexplicable occurrence!

      And yeah, I think people people don’t realise how many NZ films there have been. The recent Lord of the Rings trilogy probably being the most famous. I read that 1 in every 160 New Zealanders was part of that production. I’d add that to my CV. I did bump into Willem Dafoe once in Manchester, that’s my claim to fame. Plus Cillian Murphy in a sushi restaurant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The piano was dumped by the New Zealand Company, along with settler luggage and 25,000 bricks (!) when they arrived en masse in January 1840 at Petone beach. It was to execute Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s theory of creating a perfect society via ‘instant’ civilisation in which his company had monopoly of land sale as a social control. There was only one problem. It didn’t work – but, as Wakefield basically said about 15 years later, just because something doesn’t work in practise doesn’t mean it can’t be made to work in theory. He was selected for special criticism by Karl Marx. I wrote a book on how the Wakefield system didn’t pan out, years ago, which was to be made into a TV series but (as always) funding fell over after I’d put work in with the producer to develop a script treatment. And now the book’s out of print…bah…

        I wasn’t involved in LOTR myself, but I knew plenty of people who were – it was HUGE in the Wellington district. The ‘Piano’ connection was close too; Anna Paquin’s family were local to the Wellington area, and when re-visiting a few years back I was told she apparently used a gym just around the corner from where my wife and I were living. All famous people are ignored, Kiwi fashion, but they can be spotted thanks largely to Peter Jackson’s empire. One time I spotted Billy Connolly across a hotel foyer, here for The Hobbit. I didn’t go across and say ‘You’re Billy Connolly!’ because I figured he already knew that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mega, sounds great! If you want to start a civilization, all you need is 25,000 bricks and a piano. Got it! There are a few islands off the UK I’d quite fancy calling my new home.

          I should imagine LOTR took over a small chunk of the country, there must have been thousands of extras and whatnot. Amazing how you can occupy a country to make your film. Or just did what Kubrick did in Full Metal Jacket – transform a giant warehouse into Vietnam.

          Alas, the only famous people I’ve bumped into were in Manchester – Willem Dafoe and Cillian Murphy. I left them to it, respectively.


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