A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she’s soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.
“It’s irrelevant who or what directed a movie, the important thing is that you either respond to it or you don’t. There should be more women directing; I think there’s just not the awareness that it’s really possible. It is.” - Kathryn Bigelow
“I think that the romantic impulse is in all of us and that sometimes we live it for a short time, but it’s not part of a sensible way of living. It’s a heroic path and it generally ends dangerously. I treasure it in the sense that I believe it’s a path of great courage. It can also be the path of the foolhardy and the compulsive.”
A clear example of the types of definitions and control in regard to imagery of Maori people can be seen in the recently acclaimed film The Piano. There is little doubt in my mind that Jane Campion is a film maker of great ability and repute. However, the depiction of Maori people in the film leaves no stereotyped stone unturned. What we have in The Piano is a series of constructions of Maori people which are located firmly in a colonial gaze, which range from the ‘happy go lucky native’ to the sexualised Maori woman available at all times to service Pakeha men. The perception of Maori people given in The Piano is that our tipuna were naive, simpleminded, lacked reason, acted impulsively and spoke only in terms of sexual innuendo, with a particular obsession with male genitalia. For Maori people The Piano is dangerous. It is dangerous in its portrayal of Maori people linked solely to a colonial gaze, that is uncritical and unchallenging of the stereotypes that have been paraded continuously as 'the way we were.’
Leonie Pihama, “Are films dangerous? A Maori woman’s perspective on ‘The Piano.’"