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In The Piano, the opening Gala for ' _ . M the Film Festival, Holly Hunter K . I excels in the demanding role of a mute Victorian bride. Alan Morrison met the award-winning actress.

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n the 18503 in Scotland, there was no institutionalised language for the mute or deaf. There were what were called “home” languages, so different families would create their own language to communicate with their mute or deaf friends and relatives.’

An interesting fact, certainly, but not one you would expect to hear delivered with a pronounced Southern US twang. The expert on the subject is actress Holly Hunter, winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for her role in lane Campion’s The Piano. Hunter plays a mute Scotswoman, Ada, who travels to 19th century New Zealand with her daughter to enter into an arranged marriage with an anglophile landowner (Sam Neill). On her arrival, he refuses to transport her most treasured possession, a piano, to their home, and so the instrument falls into the hands of his enigmatic neighbour (Harvey Keitel). He offers to return it to Ada in return for a series of ‘lessons’ the means by which they carry out an increasingly passionate affair.

‘Ada was a very frightening creature to bring to life,’ Hunter admits, ‘and the thing that most kept me buoyant in finding her was the fact that I never felt that l was finding her alone I felt that Jane and I created Ada, that she was my co- conspirator. Ada is a very, very lonely woman but I never personally felt alone because I was doing it with Jane, and she was doing it with me. And yet I suppose that the environment, and me coming from a different hemisphere and knowing no one in New Zealand, was a .p k. __ chaHengeX

‘TJ Born the youngest of seven children on a cattle ranch in Georgia, Hunter made a name for herself on the New York Ada W88 stage before making an

a very unfgeénjrlstable .sdcreen debut in fin . . in u Vl eo nas 1e fr'ghtenmg Burning. Her natural éouthern creature to tones were put to good use when bring to life. she was cast opposite Nicolas (Page

in the Coen brothers Raising

She Is 3 Arizona, and later in Miss VBI'VNBI'V Firecracker, where she played a I n I small-town girl desperate to o e y , become a beauty queen. Her most woman' acclaimed performance to date was

as a gutsy TV executive in Broadcast News, winning her the Best Actress award from both the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics, as well as an Oscar nomination.

In this way, the 35-year-old actress had carved

Holly Hunter as Ada, who plays more than Chopsticks with illarvoy Koltol In The Plano. a "idle for herself as ‘1 confidemt talkativcv 3]" Below, as the fast woman who rodooms tumult ln Ills: Flrocracltot. too-obviously American woman - not. you—j

16 The List 13-19 August I993