a RARE form of love, which is only able to be explored through works of fiction.

Love is a very strong word. The word is only said with intimate underlying connotations. However, what if I said that there was a form of love that was not said? You would go on about how much of an idiot the statement was. You need dialogue for love to work as it is what makes us human. Or does it?

However, The Piano, by Jane Campion, is a film that explores in great detail a rare form of love that does not require words. Key word: film.

“I have given the piano back to you. I’ve had enough. The arrangement is making you a whore, and me, wretched. I want you to care for me. But you can’t. It’s yours, leave. Go on, go.” Baine’s words are indicative of a turning point in his relationship with Ada as he professes his underlying love to her. Inspired by the social context of the 19th-century Victorian era, The Piano by Jane Campion tells the story of how the love that does not require any words overpowers any other form of love using characterisation by revealing characters underlying motivations and desires and how their relationships are shaped throughout the movie, and the setting of colonialist New Zealand promotes the characters to explore their romantic desires, creating a love triangle between Ada, Alisdair, and Baines. Campion reveals the progression of the character's relationships in the plot through various film techniques. This is shown through how the plot of the film revolves around the love triangle’s eventual shift in favour of Baines and Ada towards the end of the film.

Ada, Baines, and Alisdair — The chance of them having a smooth relationship about the same as their chances of having their names start with the same letter.

Campion reveals the power of relationships that do not require words to be exchanged through characterisation. Alisdair is portrayed as a cunning colonialist which is underlined by him deciding to not collect his newly wedded wife’s piano. This piano is extremely significant towards her wellbeing, as she does not; “think of [her]self silent … because of [her] piano,” despite being mute. Instead, Alisdair decides to not waste his time exposing his true priorities. Alisdair’s response to the situation results in Ada being introduced to Baines, providing a sense of structure towards the film as this interaction is the beginning of the love triangle that is formed between the three characters. Baines explores how his uncontrollable love for Ada results in Baines feeling distraught by saying; “Ada, I am unhappy because I want you because my mind has seized on you and thinks of nothing else. This is how I suffer, I am sick with longing. I don’t eat, I don’t sleep. If you do not want me, if you have come with no feeling for me, then go! Go! Go NOW! Leave!” highlighting how his relationship with Ada has grown from a seemingly physical relationship to a relationship with a deeper loving, emphasizing how the structure of the film has shifted. Campion portrays Baines as an alarming-looking figure due to his embracement of Maori tradition. Baine’s face is weathered, with a tattoo on his nose which is a part of Maori culture. During the time in which the events of the film where portrayed, it would have been looked down upon for a person of Maori descent to form a romantic relationship with a Scotswoman. Despite Baine’s physical features, the power of wordless love prevails, which is highlighted to the viewer when Ada chooses to pursue her relationship with Baines. This choice by Ada was solely made based on her powerful connection with Baines. The characters and how their relationships unfold provide a sense of structure that is explored throughout the film.

Colonialist New Zealand the newlyweds ideal place for a honeymoon

Along with the complicated medium between the characters, the setting in which the film takes place provides a catalyst for telling Campion’s story by depicting how relationships that do not require audible words easily overturn any other arrangement that is made due to romance. Set in colonialist New Zealand, how someone’s basic romantic desires can be repressed is suggested at the offset, as Ada explains how; “he (Ada’s father) married [her] to a man [she had] not yet met,” encouraging the viewer to initially consider how Ada would navigate a potential romantic relationship albeit being mute and if how her newly-wed husband would react to her lack of speech. Additionally, Ada firstly attempts to find her “voice” by asking her Husband, Alisdair, if he would be able to collect the piano off the shore which they had landed on. Baines argues that he is already busy, against Ada’s wishes. The Piano is incredibly important to Ada as she says, “The strange thing is, I don’t think myself silent. That is because of my piano. I shall miss it on the journey.” Alluding to the fact that Alisdair has failed to consider Ada with her form of a voice, driving Ada to pursue a romantic relationship with Baines which eventually overruns her relationship with her husband, Alisdair. Moreover, the capability of love that requires no words is illustrated when Alasdair says; “What did she tell him? What did she tell him? I’m going to crush his (Baine’s) skull,” highlighting how the political setting in which Alisdair is in leaves him feeling as if the only method in which he can compete against the love that requires no words is to resort to violence. This situation alarms the viewer to the power of wordless love, and how it can often leave outsiders in a heightened feeling of anger. Furthermore, the effect of Alisdair’s frustration because of his lack of attention from his wife is underlined when Flora says ; “No. No, no. He’ll chop her up.” Unveiling how Alisdair’s decision can harm other characters as Flora, played by Anna Panquin, is visibly seen as upset and stressed while she says this. This reaction by Flora influences the viewer to consider how fierce Ada’s relationship with Baines is and how it affects other characters. Additionally, when Flora is asked about her mother’s whereabouts while her mother fulfills her affair with Baines, Flora answers; “To hell!” This response by Flora demonstrates how the political setting in colonialist New Zealand results in Flora developing the understanding that her mother relishing in her love that requires no words places her opportunity to be granted entry into heaven in jeopardy. This response evokes a feeling of sympathy from the viewer as Ada’s actions are revealed to have come at the expense of her daughter’s wellbeing.

The scenic and costume designers work

Campion explores how the intensity that love, more particularly love that requires no words to be exchanged, outpowers any other relationship using various film techniques. A sense of plot movement is explored with the clothing choice of characters. Ada normally wears black coloured clothing, but as she takes the outer layer of her clothing off her body, a white coloured shirt is revealed, contrasting to the earlier black colour.

This choice of clothing illustrates to the viewer how intimacy in the love triangle shifts through what Ada’s visible clothing is. Ada is never observed with her white shirt as her outermost clothing item when Alisdair shares the same scene with her, giving the viewer an idea of how the characters in the love triangle relationship have progressed over the course of the film. Moreover, intelligent film techniques were used as the climax of the plot unravels as Alisdair cuts off Ada’s finger in a desperate bid to deprive her of playing the Piano. similarly, to Ada’s finger, the trees in the background of the scene are logged as well. This shot hints to the viewer how the trees are a symbol of Alisdair’s relationship with Ada as Alisdair prioritized the land over Ada from the start, and how the relationship between the two has been “cut” off.

The Piano is an interesting piece of literature that explores how different relationships can function. However, the main story that Campion wishes to explore is how a rare form of love that requires no words, overpowers any other form of love.

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