The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

The Piano

From Jane Campion comes The Piano, a haunting romantic drama that doubles as a delicate and devastating retelling of the fairy tale “Bluebeard.”

When the mute and seemingly meek Ada McGrath’s father sells her into marriage to a New Zealand frontiersman, she has two things she can call truly hers: her daughter and her piano. For reasons unknown even to herself, Ada hasn’t spoken a word since she was six years old. Her new husband finds Ada alien and off-putting and trades her piano to Baines, a forester who’s “gone native,” for a parcel of land. Isolated but for her daughter, who quickly warms to her new stepfather, Ada is in desperate need for a means of self-expression. What Ada initially intends to be a simple trade of piano lessons to buy the instrument back from Baines morphs into a slow, mounting seduction—an opportunity for Ada to finally decide for herself who she is and what she wants.

The Piano won Campion the Palme d’Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival, making her the first–and, thus far, only–female director to receive the award.


“…a fierce performance from Holly Hunter, whose face radiates intensity and enigma.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“The Piano isn’t just a big, grand love story; it’s also the intimate exploration of a woman coming to know herself.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“Campion turns the intimacy of touch into a spectacle.” – Joanna Di Mattia, Senses of Cinema