The Piano turns 25

STUDIOCANAL and Independent Cinema Office are delighted to announce that Jane Campion’s multi Oscar® winning classic, THE PIANO, will return to cinemas on June 15th to mark the 25th anniversary of its original theatrical release and ground-breaking Palme D’Or win at Cannes. The DCP for this anniversary release was created from a restoration approved by Jane Campion and will be back in cinemas from June 15th before being available to own on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital download (including an exclusive collector’s edition complete with booklet and a copy of the soundtrack) on July 16th.

DVD and Blu-Ray extras will also include a brand-new featurette featuring interviews with Jane Campion and the film’s producer, Jan Chapman, filmed at Karekare beach in New Zealand (the iconic location made famous by the film), plus more to be announced.

A special preview screening of the film will take place at the Curzon Mayfair in London on May 18th that will be followed by a Q&A discussion with speakers Melissa Silverstein (the celebrated agitator who runs Women & Hollywood), Mia Bays (producer of Oscar-winning and multi-BAFTA nominated films, who now runs Birds’ Eye View), Kate Muir (film critic and novelist) plus more special guests TBC.

Starring Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill and Anna Paquin, THE PIANO won widespread critical and audience acclaim on its release. The film’s writer, director and producer, Jane Campion was the first female director to win the Cannes Palme d’Or for the triumphant masterpiece that centres on a mute woman’s rebellion in a newly colonised, Victorian-era New Zealand. Soundtracked by Michael Nyman’s evocative score, the film also won Oscars for both Holly Hunter (Best Actress in a Leading Role) and Anna Paquin (Best Actress in a Supporting Role) in career-defining roles as well as a Best Screenplay statue for Campion’s typically individualistic and female-centric script.

Hunter (who has an impressive three screen credits; besides her starring role, she played all of the piano pieces and served as sign language teacher for Paquin) gives a majestic silent performance as Ada McGrath, the mute Scotswoman and talented pianist who arrives with her strong-willed young daughter Flora (Paquin) in the New Zealand wilderness.

She is to marry frontiersman Alistair Stewart, having been sold him by her father, but takes an immediate dislike to him after he refuses to carry her beloved piano home with them, instead selling it to his overseer George Baines. Attracted to Ada, Baines agrees to return the piano in exchange for lessons that gradually become a series of erotically charged sexual encounters. As the story unfolds like a Greek tragedy, complete with a chorus of Maori tribes, all of the characters’ long suppressed emotions come to the fore, as if elicited by the wildness of the natural world around them.

Concerning itself with Campion’s prevailing theme – women on the edge of societal norms (arriving after 1989’s Sweetie and An Angel at My Table and before Portrait of a Lady, Holy Smoke, In the Cut, Bright Star and her acclaimed HBO/BBC TV series Top of the Lake) THE PIANO remains perhaps Campion’s most definitive work. A tale of immediate urgency and tremendous expressive power by one of the most compelling filmmakers at work today, and long overdue for revisiting in cinemas.

THE PIANO will screen on extended run at BFI Southbank from June 15th, while a special event looking at the film’s enduring legacy will take place on June 18th. The film is a key release in BFI Southbank’s June programme which, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, is being dedicated to championing work by and about women.