The Most Important Scene In The Piano By Jane Campion

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Roughly one hour into Jane Campion’s critically acclaimed 1993 film The Piano, perhaps the most visually surprising image is presented during George Baines’ (Harvey Keitel) direct attempt to seduce Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) while she teaches him how to play. Her husband, Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neill), has ordered Ada to teach the piano to Baines,’ as they must keep the instrument in his home due to Alisdair having no room. Returning to Baines’ house, Ada begins playing normally, but she eventually stops when Baines reveals himself, completely naked. He suggests that she lie with him, asking her ‘how many keys’ it would require. After careful deliberation, she agrees at the cost of 10 keys. Arguably the most important scene in The Piano from a narrative standpoint, the stark color contrast between the warm, sensual interior shots and the cold, passionless exterior shots visually express the desires of Ada in regards to Baines and Stewart respectively. Additionally, the use of character and camera proxemics during Ada and Baines’ interaction magnifies the tension throughout the scene. The hues of interior and exterior shots in The Piano greatly…show more content…
While she is looking for George, the camera does not cut away until she approaches the curtains. By keeping the lens trained on her front side and at eye-level, Campion allows the viewer to see only what she sees. This is a successful choice as not only does it create a suspenseful atmosphere, but it also accomplishes two other aspects. The camera is close enough to Ada that we can register the thoughts on her face, but it is also far enough that she appears vulnerable in Baines’ house. Up until this point, the audience could surely anticipate what Ada was going to find behind the curtain, but the execution of the framing makes the viewer feel curious yet uneasy at the same

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