Lost in the Movies: The Piano (LOST IN THE MOVIES podcast #36)

The Piano (LOST IN THE MOVIES podcast #36)

After the chaos of my previous podcast season (a month's delay, weekly podcasts, an abandonment of the biweekly approach and the new release coverage, and finally a monthy schedule), the fourth season of Lost in the Movies will be more straightforward. Running from January to June, with an episode released on the first Wednesday of each month, it will consist of six films by three directors (two each). First up is Jane Campion with The Piano, making its debut in the Criterion Collection. Set in nineteenth century New Zealand, this story of a mute Scottish woman (Holly Hunter) torn between a repressed husband (Sam Neal) and brutish recluse (Harvey Keitel) is stylistically vivid, thematically troubling, and emotionally complex. I reflect on the characters' motivations, the power dynamics in their relationships, the use of the piano as a representation of the protagonist's spirit, and the context surrounding the film (including its immediately prestigious reputation and eventually notorious distributor, as well as my own memories of parental distaste). Given Keitel's role in particular - with both parallels and dramatic contrasts to a later Campion collaboration - this will make an interesting double feature with the film I have scheduled for the following month.

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