THE PIANO FEATURE
. ~ .’ )
‘49..e . “a \ ._
“ml ' J ,
would think. the first choice for the role of Ada. And yet in The Piano she is magniﬁcent: the verbal intensity shifts to meaningful looks and gestures. while her diminutive frame is simultaneously fragile and barely able to contain the energy and life that burns inside the character. So keen was she to land the part after reading the script that she revived her own piano playing. abandoned since her late teens. and sent Campion a recording as a further means of impressing the director. During the rehearsal and shooting periods. wherever she went. the piano came too. allowing the actress to create a bond with the instrument that becomes the lynchpin of the narrative: Ada is mute. and so her music must speak for her.
‘The piano was a beautiful thing to look at. but unfortunately it was extremely crippled when it came to playing it.’ llunter explains. ‘When i arrived in New Zealand. l was a little distraught at the state of the piano because anyone who plays an instrument will know that you get an awful lot back from it. That was something i had to adjust to. and i ended up having the piano stay with me wherever l was. so i could get used to bringing up its own voice.’
While polishing up her musical abilities. Hunter also had to spend three months with a sign language interpreter learning how to use her hands properly. She then went about Jane Compton; ti iostteiiih ioee with it; constructing a private language for Ada. using the Scottish signed alphabet of the time as its
basis. ‘No matter who sees this movie anywhere in the world. they‘re not going to understand what Ada‘s saying.‘ she says. ‘Ada.
being as covert and secretive as she is. would
I not want to communicate with the rest of the s he oiaoo we used was chosen by the evocative pieces that capture something or
; deaf people in Scotland. In turn. I taught the designer oi the min under some early Scottish songs (Ada’s background), as
g language to Anna Paquin [who plays Ada‘s protest trom me, because i had well as touches of that recognisable Hyman
3 daughter, Flora]. so that she and i would have a|ways lo my mind enylsaged an sound.
3 our own secretive way of communicating. l opr|oht piano,’ admits writer-director ‘One of the Interesting things about doing a
i felt very lucky to have a partnership with Jane camoioo, ‘aot when i ﬁnally score for a film ls that one Is “Inspired” to
t Anna; it was a big anxiety of mine before i saw it, iiost ten in ioye with it; it’s such a think one’s own musical language and way of
i went to New Zealand that this child and l were gorgeous creature, such a heaotitoi, temioioe working In a totally different context and for going to get along. because she actually carries animai, it was Important to, me then to tioo totally different purposes,’ says Hyman, a I a great deal of my responsibility. She is my someone who could take up the opportunlty of graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and l guardian in the movie; she is my mouth.‘ what the piano ottereo a composer, What i the King’s College, London. ‘It Is important for l
She is also. as the narrative develops. Ada‘s think is so unique about iyiiohaei and his music a composer to write music that Is absolutely :
consc1ence and the catalyst who unwittingly for mm is that he keeps his Integtity and his essential to the film. Since Ada plays the unleashes the tragedy that simmers beneath own voice, this is not simoiy a pastiche ot 19th piano, the piano music fulfils a role which ls ; the surface of the central love triangle. The century composers, which you might get from very different to the role of background music. close relationship that developed between the someone who is iess gitteo or iess otooooooeo The slow, passionate, Intense pieces on Holly’s 1 adult and child actresses transfers onto the in their work,’ tape were far more successful than the bright, screen. adding an intensity to what is already The New zealand-hom director of sweetIe and breezy “Nyman”-type pieces that you might an emotionally charged period piece. With the An Angel At My Table ls full In her praise of expect, and so I was able to create for Ada and awards won for The Piano and her high-profile Eooiish composer Miohaei uymao, best known especially for Holly. The sound of the piano appearance alongside Tom Cruise in legal in cinema terms for his work in peter becomes her character, her mood, her thriller The Firm. Holly Hunter has joined that oreehaway’s oeowe, the music itseit is oeotrai expressions, her unspoken dialogue. it has to acting elite who can combine critical acclaim to the oanatlye deveIopmeht of The Plano; a" convey the messages she is putting across With box office bite. LJ of “as repressed emotions tiow through her about her feelings towards Baines during the The Piano opens the 47th Edinburgh muslo, and so Hyman had to "no a ba|anoe piano lessons. I’ve had to create a kind of International Film festival, and will go on between the character, the actress and the aural scenography which is as important as the l general release later this year: perlotL the resu|t Is a settes of heaomouy locations, as Important as the costumes.’ (AM)
WThe-List August 199317