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October 29, 2008

Who created Ada's character

The qualities of a feminist film I believe are accurate representation of women and their roles and responsibilities; also who is behind the movie -- are women the creators as much as those represented? Do these roles fight stereotypes or perpetuate them? Also, it's as important to me to use movies to break male stereotypes as it is to break female stereotypes. That said I don’t believe that Jane Campion's story of repression and self-discovery in New Zealand was a feminist film. While many viewers would complicate their understanding of Ada’s disability, I believe that the core idea or theme that runs throughout the movie is finding a voice and agency as a woman during that time period. The audience begins to understand that the main character Ada is completely dependent on her piano to find a way to communicate to the outside world. When this medium of communication is taken from her by her husband we begin to understand how helpless she is without it. Her identity changes from mother to wife and then victim in a matter of a couple scenes. This change of identity was created by her husband and since he is the one who is creating most of the storyline. After Ada is in a situation where she is forced to prostitute herself in order to get her piano back from Baines; her character once again is altered into a new identity through another man. Baines uses his male gaze to make us see Ada’s beauty in the most glorious and sensual way. Shortly after that he proposes a deal to her that transforms her into a prostitute. Which he later points out and blames her for. However because Baines doesn’t want a prostitute as his lover but rather a free woman that loves him, we begin to understand their relationship as a romance rather than a dirty contract. Once her husband finds out about this affair she is punished and once again falls into the victim role through the use of brutality and domestic abuse. She is only saved from this situation when the two man encounter each other and deal with the situation that Ada is in. While I would love to complicate Ada’s character, it is clear that her identity in the movie is molded by the male characters throughout the whole movie. Until the end when Ada makes her own storyline by jumping off the boat and attempting suicide.

September 24, 2008

The Piano

Jane Campion's film The Piano is, in my opinion, a feminist film. I believe that it is a feminist film because, although Ada is still objectified by the men in the film, she is a dominant character in which her actions pulls the story forward. The audience can see her personality and her struggles because of how her gaze is incorporated into the film. The audience can see what she sees and therefore feel how she feels. She is not just an object in the film that is acted upon. I still notice that the male gaze is at work in the film though. Only one of Ann Kaplan's three male gazes is obvious in the film. This is the gaze of the male characters of the film. It is very obvious when you see Baine's looking at Ada. I think Campion incorporated this male gaze to show how women are objectified. I think it was very intentional but only to show how Ada was viewed by the men. I suppose that I do not believe that the male gaze is at work throughout the entire film unconsciously through the camera because it was filmed by Campion, a woman.
Afew scenes in the movie show how Campion may be responding to patriarchy. One of these scenes is when Ada goes to her husband's bed and objectifies him by touching his body but not allowing him to touch her back. This shows how it feels to be objectified. You see how her husband feels awkward and helpless which leaves him angry. Although the film cleary shows the presents and reality of

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The Piano, Nellie Marshall

In the film The Piano I noticed a distinct motive to convey a typical patriarchal system; however I do not see this film as feminist for this same reason. Ada metaphorically and literally has no voice of her own. She is unable to make her own decisions from the beginning when her father promises her to a man in New Zealand. Throughout the film she is expected to fulfill the physical and emotional desires of the men around her. I think that Campion very effectively shows this through her filming techniques, nude shots and objectification of Ada through framing, as well as the script very blatantly stating the men’s desires and never Ada’s. The fact that Campion is not a feminist filmmaker is only surprising because Ada dominates the film; she is weak and fragile but seemingly overcomes this on her own by the end of the film. Her will chooses life, she escapes the island of gloom, and the audience has been rooting for her the entire film. Mulvey’s article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema? also supports a feminist film theory for the piano. Mulvey states, “The magic of Hollywood style at its best arose, not exclusively, but in one

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September 23, 2008

The Piano

In my opinion, Campion's gender does affect my reading of the film as potentially feminist and I do think she made specific choices to create this film in a way that responds to patriarchy. Because she is a woman, I thought she would make certain decisions about how to portray the main female character, but she made the exact opposite decisions as I had expected. For instance, I would never expect a woman filmmaker to show both the woman and the man nude. It doesn't surprise me that she isn't a feminist filmmaker. She directed a movie about a woman cheating a man. That doesn't happen too often in films. I do not think that the Piano is a feminist film. Ada would have been more powerful in the film. Instead, she was portrayed as weak and vulnerable. She wasn't able to talk on her own. She needed to find a man to motivate her to want to talk. That's not the message a feminist film is supposed to portray.

the Piano

The Piano is an interesting film in that it can be interpreted many different ways. The fact that some people think it is a feminist film, when even the director, Champion, announces she is not a feminist filmmaker, forces us to look at the complexity of the film. I do not think The Piano is a feminist film. I do not think that the fact that the director was a female makes much of a difference.
Looking at the main character, Ada, we can understand that she doesn’t speak. This can be interpreted in two ways: her silence as strength, or her silence as being weak. I admire how she can communicate without words, but she uses her piano as her voice. This creates problems, because the piano is an object that is left behind, traded for sexual pleasures, and then destroyed. What does that say about Ada’s voice? I have learned from bell hooks that to determine the importance of a character in a film,

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Hot Commodity

On a superficial analysis of The Piano one might assume it is a film that further encourages the furtherance of patriarchy and male dominance; ending with a happy nuclear family at the end. When considering the awards the film received it is hard to blame the filmmakers for choosing a Hollywood ending. Regardless of the director, Jane Campion’s, outward statements that she is not a feminist filmmaker, I can’t seem to grasp The Piano as any other sort of film. The Piano tells a story of a colonial woman, it gives a horrifyingly accurate portrayal of a woman’s place within her society, her only ability to control her environment is her ability to control men through sex. Ada is the protagonist, she is the character moving the story forward, though the men in the film make logistical decisions about property, marriage, and where Ada will be living, it is Ada’s reactions to these patriarchal decisions that construct the story of the film. Historically she would have had no legal ability to change the decisions made for her, at that point in time women were basically treated as commodities. Throughout our readings there seems to be this notion that a feminist film has to be a film that outwardly in your face puts women in a powerful, or reversed role, I disagree with that. I believe it can be more sub terrestrial than that. I think a film such as The Piano can be considered a feminist film simply because it outwardly in your face shows how fucked up society has allowed women to be treated! I don’t think the film is in anyway accepting of societal wrongs against women, this to me, makes it feminist, it gives a portrayal of a woman as a commodity and it is by no means masked. In plenty of other films about women in arranged marriages, the woman “falls in love? with the man she’s arranged with, in The Piano Ada is a rebel in her time. Ada controlled her environment with the means she had available, and she did seemingly fall in love with Baines, so who cares if they go off and get married and blah blah—it’s Hollywood!

A Feminist look at The Piano

The Piano has many unique aspects-camera angels, male nudity, and sexuality-presented in the film. This all is influenced in my mind by the fact that Jane Campion is female. I perceive specific parts of The Piano in the context of this fact. Ada giving sexual favors to Baines would have impacted me very differently, much more negatively, if the director had been male. Although, these scenes were very upsetting, they were somewhat easier to watch knowing that these scenes were filmed with the full implication of what this would mean to female viewers. I tend to think (although probably incorrectly) that women understand the pain of sexual abuse more strongly than men.

Overall, I don’t feel that this film was feminist. Although there are certainly are parts that have feminist aspects. I see this most in the male nudity compared to the female nudity. This is too unusual for a film for it not to have been a conscious choice. This is where I feel she is making a statement about patriarchy. Rather than the female body being showcased it is the male’s.

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The Piano

I would like to view the two main male characters of The Piano through a feminist lens. It seems that Campion is honest with her portrayal of Stewart. He is a character we are allowed to hate. He literally owns Ada. She is an object to him. As the audience, we grow to hate him more when he refuses to let Ada take her piano, which she believes to be her very essence. I believe Campion made those choices in order to show patriarchy at work. Where she goes wrong, however, (at least in a feminist light) is with the character of Baines. Just like Stewart, he displays patriarchy in the way he uses Ada for sexual favors in return for her piano. Yet Campion romanticizes his character. We can't hate him because our protagonist has fallen in love with him. Campion defines Ada's sexuality through the gaze of Baines, illustrating Kaplan's ideas. Ada wasn't sexually awakened until Baines desired her, and once she realized this, she craved it, and went back for more. The fact that Campion is a woman doesn't mean she has to make feminist films. As a filmmaker she is allowed to express her creativity and make whatever kind of film she wants. I'm just glad she didn't identify herself as a feminist filmmaker, because her celebration and heroification of Baines was anything but.

The Piano and the Male Gaze

In Jane Campion's film, "The Piano," the protagonist, Ada is portrayed as the object of the male gaze for the vast majority of the film. This can be seen in the way that Ada is sold as daughter property to wife property, and then proceeds to be constantly inundated with men, (both her husband and lover) who are obsessed with her almost solely as an object of physical affection. Throughout the film, we can see that Ada's true voice or soul is in her piano, and she is therefore almost a prisoner of it. Therefore, whoever owns the piano for the majority of the movie, owns Ada. The fact that she is her piano's property--which is symbolic of her own voice-- allows her to retain some sense of agency. She continually claims the piano as her own, despite the men who sell it over her head. In this way, we can view this film as a feminist film through Ada's retaining of her voice, personal amnesty, and affection through the choices she makes with the piano as her instrument. However, in the way that she is "owned" through her husband watching her and lusting after her even as she chooses to lay with another man, and in the way that she is forced to prostitute herself to Baines, (the man she eventually chooses to love) for her voice is very antifeminist. However, the fact that the female director builds an ethos for Ada and demonizes her husband for trying to possess her is a very feminist perspective. Kaplan notes in her article that feminists have complained that this "gaze" is male because women are subjected to framing and fragmenting of their bodies to portray them in a purely erotic light. This is done in the Piano, but in a way that is critical of eroticizing women. Overall, despite the critique of the male gaze that is so blatant throughout the film, I do not consider it to be wholly feminist. This is because the feminist perspective derives from an array of issues that are not limited to women. The way that the island native people are portrayed as less "civilized" and prone to rash and savage nature was extremely racist and was not a part of the feminist agenda. The only not heteronormative character in the film was also one of these island natives and the only judgement of him comes from Mary who says, "balls were wasted on you." This is meant to be comical, but ends up, in my opinion, being detrimental to the homosexual community, and therefore the feminist cause.

Thoughts on The Piano

I was expecting to see a great feminist film, but after The Piano was over, I hoped that it wasn't a feminist film. The only part of the film that struck me as being feminist was the shot of Baines' back side.

Right at the start of the film, Ada is sent away to be with a husband of whom she had never met and had no choice over. She (as I believe is mentioned in the article) doesn't speak, which seems to be just another symbol of weakness on the female part.

Both Baines and Ada's husband are aggressive with Ada throughout the film. Ada "loves" Baines, but Ada is viewed in a very sexual way. For example, Baines tells her to lift her skirt. She does, with Baines underneath the piano eyeing her and touching her leg. Similarly, Baines says "take off your dress. I want to see your arms." This wouldn't have to be a sexual comment except for the fact that we know Baines has a thing for Ada. Baines also convinces Ada to "lay" in bed with him.

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A Feminist Film?.....Sugar Please!

Jane Campion's direction of the movie the piano was very interesting to me. I personally didn't see this film as being any kind of feminist statement to patriarchy, female direction or not! Let it be known that not all females are feminists (Sarah Palin)! There is system of domination at work in the film and it is indeed male domination. Ada in the film is working under a masculine discourse of power. She is treated like a sex object/toy by this man whom she doesn't know and at first thinks he is an ass for being so nasty (rightfully so) and always staring at her in a sexual way. She then later sees the "error of her ways" and falls for this guy?! What the? This is just what Kaplan was referring to with a dominant-submissive structure, where men rule and women work with the limited autonomy they do have. I can clearly see that Campion is not a feminist. No doubt the character of Ada was well written and I can see where you might find the feminist spin,..but,...."sugar please!" The full feminist spin would be about another 360 degrees!

The Piano, Feminist?

All through watching the film 'The Piano', I was extremely uneasy. Hunter's monologue at the beginning is eerie, and when a film begins with a voiceover prologue, you know that it must end with an epilogue. The tone that the voiceover set for the film put me on edge, and so I only enjoyed it for its cinematic contributions. I also could have gone on and lived a normal, happy without seeing Harvey Keitel's full frontal nudity.
I believe that Campion made specific choices to create a film that shows the heterosexual patriarchy every chance she got. In the film, Ada represents the perfect woman; beautiful and silent. However, her sassy attitude and strong will get in the way of the men's ideal (Stewart's and Baines') and so they act accordingly to put her in her place. Stewart, eventually follows her into the woods and chases her down just to grope her and was only stopped because Ada's daughter Flora was in the

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The Piano: Feelings of Repulsion

As I sat watching The Piano, I could not escape the feelings of repulsion throughout the entire movie. The first time this feeling became apparent was when Ada's new husband refused to take the piano to their home, making clear his power over her. To make matters worse, this happened in the first five minutes of meeting each other. I was also repulsed by Baines and the degrading situation he put Ada in, proving his power over her over and over again. Campion's gender did not affect my reading of the film as potentially feminist because I did not get a feminist perspective from it. I agree that Campion made specific choices about patriarchy in this film with the constant power struggle between Ada and the men in the film. The males always proved more powerful, reinforcing patriarchy. Even when Ada did get her piano back, it was only because she subjected herself for Baines' sexual pleasure; him being the higher power yet again. To say the least, I disagree with Campion's portrayal of women in her film. It does not surprise me that Campion is not a feminist filmmaker because I did not think the movie was

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The Piano

I do not view The Piano as a feminist film. The fact that Campion is a woman does not affect my view, nor does it surprise me that she stated that she is “not a feminist filmmaker.? I have come to this conclusion since I can think of many more examples from the film that would suggest it is not feminist over it being feminist. First of all, Ada is mute and is not able to voice her opinions. She is unable to communicate to the man she ultimately falls in love with, Baines, since he is illiterate and she has no voice. She can only really communicate using her body, which she basically sells to him to get her piano back. This would not support a very feminist view. Although she proves to be a fairly strong woman in many respects, she still gives in to the men in the film. She wants more than anything to bring her piano up to her new home when she arrives in New Zealand, but she ends up giving in to her husband’s command and leaving it on the beach. Also, when she shows anger and her strength in the film, the other women and her husband worry that she might have a mental problem.

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September 22, 2008

Piano + Patriarchy

The fact that Jane Campion is a woman, might lead me to believe that this could potentially be a feminist film. Upon seeing it however, I don't buy it and I am not surprised that Campion denies being a “feminist filmmaker.? I say this because, Ada, our heiroine of sorts is portrayed as a victim of men at just about every turn. As an object to be possessed by men, she is traded three times in the film. She is sexually exploited by Baines, but supposedly falls in love with him as a result. For this she is attacked and mutilated by Stewart. And in the end she appears contented to be with Baines, but this “happy ending? for Ada doesn’t actually seem that happy.

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The Piano

I believe “The Piano? was a feminist film and it surprises me that she explicitly states that she is not a feminist filmmaker. A certain tone is set in one of its first sequences. When a crew of sailors unloads Ada's belongings in the surf. Mother and daughter, dazed from the journey and the rude landing, appear vulnerable. The seamen, on the other hand, are crude and careless. They clearly have no appreciation of the significance of the piano. When asked if there is anything further she needs or wants, Ada replies that she has had enough of the stinking ship and they can all go to hell. After this response you know to whom this film is addressed and to who it is not.
I believe Campion's main character, Ada, is labeled as kind of crazy by virtue of her refusal to conform to what society considers being the feminine ideal. In The Piano, Ada has refused to speak and Campion never tells us why. The Piano also presents someone who has, presumably of her own accord, come half way around the world to marry a new husband. And yet she refuses to make the slightest effort

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The Piano

The Piano does not stand out as a feminist film to me. This is mainly due to the fact that Ada and Flora are seen more as property than individuals. I believe that as a director Jane Campion focused more on the piano and Ada and how they travel through this journey together, than she does on relationships between the men and women in the story (a possible result of the movie having a female director).
In The Piano, there are many examples of male gaze: from man to woman, from woman to man, and from human to object (the piano). As I learned from this week’s readings, male gaze is not just a man looking at a woman, and the film The Piano male gaze is used to objectify the women in the film. The piano is gazed upon by all of the characters in the movie; it is seen as only an object which will only speak when told to. The gaze is then seen from Baines towards Ada and from husband towards Ada. In both cases Ada is seen as an object for men to control which is seen as a mirroring of the gaze upon the piano. The oppression of women is also supported by the time setting being in the colonial era; it is a time in history when women had few if any rights at all.

The Piano

I had never seen his film before and my first reaction was surprise and confused. No I don't think because of the director Campion's gender the film was potentially feminist. I'm also not shocked that Campion has explicitly stated that she is "not a feminist filmmaker because nothing stood out to be feminist. Just because she is a women doesn't mean it has to be feminist. In the reading by Ann Kaplan she talks about male gaze "Assigned the place of object she is the recipient of male desire, the passive recipient of his gaze. If she is to have sexual pleasure, it can only be constructed around her objectification; it cannot be a pleasure that comes from desire for the other that is, her desire is to be desired." In The movie Piano we see this when Ada goes back to be with Baines because she figures out she desires him too. Ada is being desired by Baines and at first Ada does not desire Baines desire.

The Gaze and "The Piano"

That Jane Campion is “not a feminist filmmaker? came of absolutely no surprise to me, nor does her being a woman affect my opinion of this movie. Some argue that “The Piano? is a feminist film because of the way it portrays men. While I will give Campion credit for providing audiences with a greater amount of male nudity than female, she doesn’t take it far enough. One of Kaplan’s main points in “Is the Gaze Male?? is the difference between the male and female gazes. As she points out, “men do not simply look; their gaze carries with it the power of action of possession.? Women, on the other hand, “return a gaze, but cannot act on it.?

Campion illustrates this point quite nicely. While both the male and female characters have their share of gazes, these gazes unequal. When Ada stares at Baines, she is looking straight at him, and he appears unperturbed. On the other hand, when we see Baines looking at Ada, he is frequently looking at her from behind or at an angle.

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I was not very impressed by Jane Campion’s work in The Piano. And I am not sure how it won so many awards. The only actor that kept me wanting to watch was Flora she added life to what I thought was a lifeless film. Campion’s gender does not affect my reading of the film as being potentially feminist. It does not surprise me that Campion has stated that she is “NOT a feminist filmmaker.? I was very confused and a little frustrated when I found out that the director of the film was a woman. I thought there are few female directors in the movie making industry and she makes this garbage. Granted just because she is a woman doesn’t mean that she has to make feminists films, but I just expected more.

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The Piano

I found that The Piano was different than other movies made by men, because of the way men were portrayed in the film visually. However, I don’t think that actual story content of the film was extremely pro-woman or feminist. I agree with Saco when she discusses how the film isn’t feminist because Ada ia mute, and because of this she is “subject to the whims of the male characters? (4). Before watching the film I was aware that the director, Campion, was a female and this did make me look more closely at the choices in the way that the characters were portrayed and filmed. I don’t think that the film really responds to patriarchy other than the change of the gaze. The film was not intentionally filmed in a way that was for men to get pleasure in watching the characters. Kaplan discusses how Hollywood cinema is “constructed according to the unconscious patriarchy…? (120), but I don’t think that Campion filmed in this way.

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The Piano

I loved Ana Paquin in this movie and she definitely deserved the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. I think Campion's gender should not be considered when you consider the work as feminist or not. I think that she attempted to counter patriarchy with her work. Some examples of her attempt were the gaze being feminine at certain points of the film ie. when she Ada is caressing Stewart's bottom, when she gazes at "her" piano or her behavior/attitude towards her husband. However overall I would not consider this film feminist, and I am not surprised that Campion does not consider herself a feminist filmmaker because "the film arguably also reproduces some rather traditional mainstream conventions for depicting women in film.

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Feminism and The Piano

Feminism is a complicated animal. On the one hand, there are probably very few in the Western world who would disagree with the concept that women are equal to men. On the other, there are equally few who would admit to being a feminist, even though they agree with many things that feminists stand for (this is probably due to the backlash to second wave feminism that was discussed in the lecture). This is how I saw Jane Campion and The Piano. Although she stated that she is not a "feminist filmmaker" it seems pretty clear that she is trying to lend The Piano a feminist viewpoint. Such statements as Ada being a mute (representing a woman's lack of a voice in her society), being essentially "sold off" to a man she does not know and her final sexual liberation all seem to critique not only Ada's society but our own. However, as bell hooks noted quite well, there are some serious flaws with a feminist vision of the film. The intense domestic abuse may be trying to make a statement, but that does not make it any more acceptable. If Campion is using the film to "respond to patriarchy", such scenes are not very effective to that end.

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The Piano

My overall feeling during and after The Piano was one of conflictedness. In certain parts, it screamed patriarchy in a way that practically made me cringe. ("Lift your skirt. Higher." Blegh!) In other parts, there was a definite feeling of rebellion against typical gender roles. Ada's stubbornness and coldness toward her husband were definitely uncharacteristic of mainstream depictions of this relationship. It's something I've been turning over in my mind over the days since we watched the film. Particularly when you consider Campion's intent, I think despite breaking down some conventions, the film is overall unfeminist. I am swayed in this direction due to the positioning of Ada throughout the film. This was shown in both the visual representations as well as her theoretical positioning in the story. As mentioned in class, Ada was constantly being framed by the camera, whether in a mirror, doorframe, or bonnet. More theoretically, Ada's position in the story itself was one of "to-be-figured-out-ness."

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Trina Hendrickson

I thought "The Piano" was very well put together. I do perceive this film as mostly feminist. The males in the movie are highly dominating in the things they do and ways they act toward Ada. Ada and her daughter are frequently protrayed as weak women who try to obey the higher superior male. I though it was interesting how the affair with Bianes and Ada occured. At first it was Ada's undying love for her piano that drove her to obey Baines' sexual demands. He had power over her and she did mostly as she was told. I enjoyed watching how it the powere slowly transitioned over into Ada's hands. Once Bianes let her go and gave her the piano back, Ada then had the power of what she was to do. The film portrayed many feminist and patriarchial points, but the one that stood out most was Ada's final choice to end or keep her life. It wasn't the actual decision that mattered of what happened it was Ada's freedom to control her own individual self. The piano gave her that freedom, to feel contempt and free. She spoke through her piano and her daughter's interaction with the piano and Ada made a greater impact on how happiness was seen through Ada. When the piano was thrown over the boat, Ada had to make that one last choice to move on happily with her life. And freedom was her choice and that, to me, was the best choice of all.

The Piano

This film was really hard for me to determine if it was feminist or not. There were certainly aspects of the film that made it feminist like the scenes where Ada was framed like in the mirror she often looked at or the opening scene with her fingers covering her face. However, women were not the only characters that were framed. Mr. Banes and even the piano are also framed or gazed upon in the film. I do not think though that Jane Campion being a woman had anything to do with the nature of the film being considered feminist or not for several reasons. One is that the film depicts a woman struggling get a solid foundation back after the death of her first husband rather than a woman who is defining herself based on the men she is surrounded by. Another is that this type of film where a woman, or man, is struggling to redifine themself is also produced by male directors. I do believe that Campion made choices in the film to reflect patriarcy by having the male characters dominating over the female characters, but Ada does not define herself by the man she was with but rather by the piano. This is why I do not think of the film as feminist. Also, I am really not surprised, by this film, that Campion says she is "not a feminist filmmaker". Based on this film only I do not see enough evidence to call her a feminist filmmaker for several reasons. One is that yes there is patriarchy in the film but there are also male characters that treat the women as equals and with as much respect as their male counterparts. Another is that not only is it the male characters who treat Ada as an object but so do many of the women who think she is just "dumb". Overall as a whole I believe that this film may come off as feminist simple because of how Ada is treated as an object in the film with no say in how she leads her life.

The Piano

I think that her work displays many aspects of the "gaze" that are not done by just man, but by woman, child and even those who look at objects in sort of a "gaze"! I think that because the the director was a women it was a lot easier for her to portray a film that can be concidered feminist. I think that because the gender of the director was a woman does affect my idea of the film being feminist because what women would want to make a women about women being subjective to men and scrutiny!? I think that she uses many cases of voyeurism and fetishism to appeal to the male audiences, like the sex scene. It does affect my initial thoughts that Campion stated that she is not a feminist film maker because there were many scenes where males were dominated and the "gaze" was constantly on display. Yes, I do think that The Piano is a feminist film. Some examples is how "Ada" is constantly being framed, whether its by a door frame or her someone looking at her through cracks, etc. Also, where the dominant males come into play, whethere its her father literally shipping her off to be married to another man,

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"I clipped your wing....that's all"

I think this movie posseses a lot of feminist ideas and attitudes, and definitely makes statements about women's oppression. However, I'm not sure it could be coined a true feminist film. It addresses many gender roles and expectations during this time period. Women were expected to be submissive and agreeable, and to create a peaceful household for their husbands and children. In some ways, Ada's character was the perfect woman: beautiful, talented and silent. Her piano was her voice and her outlet of expression, and eventually men robbed her of that as well. In this way, I do think that Campion was making a statement against patriarchy. Ada was forced into an arranged marriage, bargained her sexuality for her piano, and severely punished for expressing free will and desire. But in the end, Ada fell in love with the man who tried to buy her. I found it interesting that as Ada, Flora and Banes were leaving New Zealand, she was still unhappy enough to attempt suicide. In any other movie this would have been the typical happy ending: little family riding away into the sunset. Ada is still dissatisfied even after she has the "love of her life." Maybe Campion is commenting on the role of women in society today...While things have improved, we're still not where we'd like to be.

The Piano

This film could definitely go either way as being feminist or not. I don't think it was but I don't think it was patriarchial either. I know the director was a woman but this film was not simply viewed from the standpoint of a woman but it was also not just viewed from the male gaze either. I think the director is somewhat lying to herself when she says she is not a feminist film maker simply because this film does somewhat defy patriarchy. When she leaves her husband for another man, that is her being a strong woman and standing up for herself instead of just bowing down to his demands. This film was violent and kind of hard to watch. It made me cringe and it made me happy at the same time. The director did an excellent job at changing the gaze from male to female and somewhere in between. The peeping of the husband and the daughter at her sexcapades was one reason the gaze is not completely male, also there are so many moments of Ada and her daughter gazing at each other and at the piano that I don't think the gaze was directed at just one gender. It was a film to make you think and I believe the director succeeded.

The Piano

While viewing the film, "The Piano" my thoughts kept moving back and forth on whether it was feminist or not. Initially, knowing that the director was female affected me to read the film as feminist but as the film progressed I found myself with the complete opposite feeling. Yes, in the film we experience "gazes" from both the male characters and Ada but what really made me believe the film was not feminist was the element of the female voice in the film. In the Saco reading it says the feminist theory is that women rarely have a voice of there own. In this film Ada is mute therefore her voice shines through the piano and right off the bat the piano (her voice) is controlled by men. Alisdain tells Ada she can not bring the piano with her to her new home and later in the film when the piano is brought back into her life Baines uses it as a tool to get sexual control of her. Besides that she has to earn the piano back key by key from Baines showing that he is the owner and she is in a way his slave. In the end we see that she gets to be with the man she wants and the piano, but only because another man (Alisdain) made the choice for her. She never gets the chance to be free and have the voice she wants. It does not surprise me at all that Campion stated that she is not a feminist

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pianisimo

I would not classify The Piano as a feminist film. My initial reasoning was that Campion was trying to be true to the setting of the film - a colonial patriarchal time and culture - however, when I reread bell hooks' article, I was struck by a question she asks:

Since this is not a documentary film that needs to remain faithful to the ethos of its historical setting, why is it that Campion does not resolve Ada's conflicts by providing us with an imaginary landscape where a woman can express passionate artistic commitment and fulfillment in a passionate relationship?
hooks makes a strong point. Ada has very little control in her life. She loses control over her piano from the beginning of the film, she loses control over Flora (when Flora begins to call Stewart 'papa'), she seems to have sexual power over Baines, but only after he seduces/takes advantage of her, and when her husband finally allows her to leave, he hears her pleading only through her thoughts. It seems that Ada only gains control in the end, when she jumps overboard with her piano.
I think that Campion made a powerful statement by making Ada mute. She clearly portrayed Ada's role as a mother, wife, lover, and artist stuck in a patriarchal society with "no voice." However, I don't see it as a feminist statement, but as a choice Campion made to be true to the plot and history she was trying to portray.

The Piano and "the Female Gaze'

Even though Campion explicitly stated that she is “not a feminist filmmaker?, she made specific choices in her directing of The Piano which could make the film be either or. If you look closely at the gazes in the film, the most significant gazes are female, and done by Ada to a male—Ada watching Baines undress while playing the piano, Ada caressing her husband’s bare back. These scenes go against mainstream cinema and depict a male as an object of desire. However, by the end of the movie, all hopes for a feminist film are overpowered by an ending of male dominance, patriarchy, and a woman making sacrifices for love.

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The Piano

Before watching the film I read the bell hooks article where I concluded that this was not going to be a feminist film. I went to www.imdb.com to see what the general population had to say about the film. The comments ranged from "epic love story" to "desperate and romantic". I had no idea what I was about to see. After watching the film I feel that this movie is drastically anti-woman. There is so many layers of violence towards women in this movie. We begin with Ada being essentially sold to Stewart. She is then sexually abused by Baines, something which we are supposed to find arousing. Baines then calls Ada a whore and gives her the piano back because he suddenly feels badly about his actions and then -bam- she's in love and the audience swoons. Then she is physically abused by Stewart who decides in the end to "give" her to Baines. And they all live happily ever after. This is the furthest thing from a feminist film. I think bell hooks was right when she wrote of Campion, "her work betrays feminist visions of female actualization, celebrates and eroticizes male domination". Campion stating that she is not a feminist filmmaker makes perfect sense to me. It's unfortunate that a women with obvious talent is wasting her time demeaning her own gender.

Gaze in "The Piano"

When watching The Piano, I thought there was more focus on the Piano than anything else. There was indeed gaze directed at Ada, but not as much as the Piano. I think Jane Campion (director), was trying to show the importance of the Piano, rather than a male or female and their relationship, but the relationship between the Piano and Ada. I did however think it was interesting to see a film that did have just as much female gaze as it did male gaze. I believe there was just as much gaze on Baines and Alister, as there was on Ada. This may be attributed to the fact that the director is female, but I can't say for certain. The film is already set in a time when women had few rights if any, and that is clearly seen in this piece, but Ada, as well as her daughter Flora, were both blunt in their own ways. This makes me see the female characters as strong, not without rights. In these respects, I think the film has many feminist ties to it, which I can only assume were intentional on Campion's part. I think the film can e seen as feminist, if you take into consideration that Ada and Flora prevail after in times.

Perception of Gender

After watching the film the Piano as well as reading essays associated for this piece, I will have to disagree with the notion that this film could potentially be feminist. Or, the film may be directed such that it makes obvious (white) patriarchal ideals in our society by showing things such as the male gaze, voyeurism, subjugation of women, etc. It seems that the filmmaker wanted to expose the white patriarchal system and how women play a role in this system. Seeing as Campion is not a feminist film maker, I am surprised that this film could be seen as feminist; just because a woman has made a film with issues regarding womens' role in society, it does not make the film feminist. I feel that audiences primarily viewed this film as a love story rather than one showing the struggles of a 19th century woman and so in that sense, it was hard to critically view the film as a feminist one. One thing I feel that makes this film non feminist is due to the gaze used at various times in the movie. I would consider this gaze male.

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September 21, 2008

The Piano

I don’t believe that director Jane Campion’s gender had any sway on the way I viewed the film or its themes. As I watched The Piano I found myself focusing more on the ways that it showed an – as bell hooks put it – “uncritical portrayal of sexism and misogyny? than on the gender of the writer. I disagree with the way hooks spoke of the film for several reasons, mostly because she claims the film doesn’t look critically at sexism and misogyny. I think The Piano takes a very critical look at the male dominated colonial era and considers many of the ways that women were oppressed. In the film, Ada is no more than a commodity; her autonomy is taken from her when she is married to Stewart and further removed when she is given by her husband to Baines. Campion further demonstrates female oppression by literally taking away the voice of the main character Ada. Another way we see this sexism and misogyny is through the affair of Ada with Baines. Again we see the male in the power position; Ada is literally helpless because her piano – the only vehicle for self expression – is in the hands of the men of the film. As an observer of the film, I couldn’t help but notice the ever present oppression of Ada and in this way I think Campion truly gives us a critical view of what it was like for women of the colonial era (and even beyond).

The Piano and the "TheGaze"

This film was defiantly an emotional rollercoaster. Campion proved to the audience that the “gaze? can be from a male, female and a piano standpoint. The “male gaze? exists when her husband looks at a picture of her before they meet, Baines watching her play the piano through the lace and the husband watching her and Baines through the wood work. Ada also watches Baine framed through the doorway, the piano on the beach and peaking through her fingers right at the beginning. Knowing that the director was a woman I watched the movie carefully for feminist critiquing but did not see much. I only noticed that Ada was looked at by the men as the “female object? of the gaze, as Mulvey would call her, the “object of desire?. Although, this film does respond to patriarchy quite obviously because Ada’s life was controlled by men. I agree with Mulvey’s thought in the Diana Saco’s reading how Ada is mute for a reason. In typical Hollywood blockbusters woman have a voice and are able to make their own decisions but Ada’s expression is through her piano. She is controlled by the men; she does what they tell her to because she cannot help it. All together I learned that “the gaze? can happen from any person or object. This film had examples of a feminist film but not as a whole. She and her daughter were not free to make their own decisions but they were not slaves to them or anything.

The Piano

Writer/director Jane Campion's film “The Piano? is one of the most churning intensity and emotional film I have watched in a very long time. The story of a mute woman's rebellion lifestyle, who has willed herself not to speak, and with her strong-willed young daughter right by her side is a wonderful way to prove that not only does the ‘male gaze exist but also a ‘female gaze exists as well. Like stated by Diana Saco in her article The Piano and 'the Female Gaze', “The 'female gaze' can be viewed, broadly, as a way of understanding what possibilities exist not just for a feminine (or feminist) 'way of looking', but also for a feminine/feminist way of talking and being, The Piano clearly raises some interesting questions in this vain.? I strongly agree with this statement because with having the main character Ada a mute we watch through her ‘gaze’ throughout the entire movie; how she framed her husband and Baines through doors and windows. And the scene on the bed when we watch through Ada’s eyes as she rubs her hands on her husbands back in silence.

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Min's Blog

As someone who enjoys to watch movies, I thought it was a good movie. I can't say it completely meets all my likings for a movie, but I can't argue that it wasn't a beautiful movie. However, I don't find this movie to push many feminist ideas even though the main character and director are females. I'm glad the blog question asks, "Does [Campion's] gender affect your readings of the film as potentially feminist," and comes out and tells us that, "...Campion has explicitly stated that she is,"not a feminist film maker."" Of course knowing that we're watching a movie directed by a female in a feminist studies class affects my viewing the movie, but as I was watching the movie, I couldn't find a strong feminist under current to the movie. Even before I looked at the blog question I wondered to myself, "Is this really a feminist film?" thinking that being in a feminist class makes all movies we watch feminist and also watching a movie directed by a female making it an even greater chance the film is feminist. Of course anything can be perceived feminist if looked at from a certain angle, but the way I saw the film was not feminist from the way we have learned feminism in movies thus far in this class.

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Sexual Harassment is Hot!

Jane Campion’s The Piano is not a feminist film. I will even go as far to say that it’s actually anti-feminist. Ada is an extremely passive character with no voice, both literally and figuratively. She does little to advance the narrative. The majority of her decisions are highly affected by the men in her life. I am not quite sure what would meet the criteria of a feminist film, but I doubt a film about a mute protagonist who gives into a man who used her for sexual gratification would qualify. Baines is an awful person, despite what the film wants the spectator to think. Through the language of film, The Piano assumes the viewer to initially despise Baines but eventually fall for him, like Ada. I agree with bell hooks when she writes in “Misogyny, Gangsta Rap and The Piano? that “‘positive’ surrender is encouraged by the ‘romantic’ portrayal of sexism and misogyny.? Campion’s direction manipulates the audiences into thinking, “Hey, I guess Baines is a good guy after all.?

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The Piano

Jane Campion has made a movie that is both entertaining and depressing at the same time. The directing/writing, acting and cinematography create an unforgettable movie. What Campion does for me is prove that the "gaze" is not only done or owned by the male gender an issue that I am sure Laura Mulvey would have a strong opinion on. The idea of the gaze according to Mulvey is completely the males gaze only. While there are plenty of examples of the "male gaze" in the film, it is the "female gaze" (which Diana Saco article explores) given by Ana that was more effective and intense than any other gaze in the film. Is this because the director was a woman? Maybe. Did her gender affect the way I looked at the film? No. There are things you can speculate on like how certain things were shot or how the story was told, but never during the film did something pop up in my head that made me think about how I could tell a female directed this film. Campion has made a great film and to me to judge her and the film on the guidelines that we have to keep in mind that she is a female is not only unfair to the film but extremely unfair to Campion.

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Who’s Really Gazing At The Piano?

In her movie, The Piano, director Jane Campion raises the crucial question: who’s gaze is the audience viewing the action through? I believe there are arguments in favor of both the typical “male gaze? and a new feministic “female gaze.? As Ann Kaplan sites in her essay, “Is the Gaze Male?? voyeurism and fetishism are both concepts of the male gaze; in the film, there are examples of both. Voyeurism shows up quite literally, when Ada’s husband watches her making love with Baines through the hole in the wall. Fetishism is also present once Ada enters into her “deal? with Baines to get her piano returned. Baines frequently focuses on one specific body part of hers: the neck, the shoulder, and the calf. In these instances, the film would appear to have that of the male gaze—especially in conjunction with the fact that it displays a woman who is literally unable to “speak? for herself nor take charge of her own life.

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September 19, 2008

Sexism and Misogyny: Or Not?


The film Piano represents a very specific cite for contestations of modern feminist philosophy. In her article “Misogyny, gangster rap and the Piano? bell provides one such reading of this film as anti-female as it eroticizes sexual harassment, portrays the voiceless woman, and tells the story of colonized land, bodies, and peoples -in the case the Maori people (which hooks perhaps problematically categorizes as being represented as “docile happy darkies without a care in the world?). The Piano, though perhaps not the strongest feminist film, is certainly a challenging piece that forces us to grapple the complexity of human contact, sexuality, and desire.

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The woman, the object

“The Piano? is not a feminist film in my eyes. Overall, the plot was interesting and kept my attention, but the patriarchal mode of thinking was blatantly obvious. Even though the director was female, the women of this film are greatly suppressed. Granted, one must keep in mind the time in history that this story takes place. Ada is passed around like an object (the piano) from her father-to her new husband-to Baines. This continuous cycle throughout the film shows Ada and Flora as always being “owned? by a male character. The male gaze is also present in almost every scene with Ada and husband/Baines. We see this gaze in the very beginning of the film, when the viewers are first introduced to the husband. He is starring at the daguerreotype of his future wife, Ada. The silver image becomes a mirror when angled slightly, and this acts as a tool to capture the refection of husband’s face. His control over Ada is obvious from the very beginning. Kaplan in her article, “Is the Gaze Male?“, discusses the question of Can the male gaze be female?

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Reflections on Jane Campion's "The Piano"

First off, this is a little longer than intended, and I do apologize to Jessica and Elakshi. However, I feel incredibly strongly about this film, and had a few points I felt I needed to make.

After viewing Jane Campion’s film The Piano in class, I was rather horrified at the prospect that this could ever be interpreted as a feminist film – much less a pro-female film by any measure. I vehemently disagree with the notion that Campion made this film to respond specifically to the patriarchy; instead, I feel that it supports some of the most basic institutions of women’s oppression while supplementing its troubling message with other various and sundry injustices sprinkled throughout the story.

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The Piano

I have come to the conclusion that The Piano was not a feminist film whatsoever. The whole film focused on the ownership of property, the property being Ada. Ada never really had control of where she was going, she was given away by her family in the beginning and then given away by Stewart in the end. It was also the men that truly owned the piano and the men who either allowed or did not allow Ada express herself through playing it. One could say that Campion did do a thorough job at showing what an extreme version of patriarchy may look like and how the voice of the women is lost within this type of patriarchy but still does not lead me to believe that this is a feminist film.

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September 18, 2008

It was never Ada's Piano

In terms of feminist vibes I felt that it was more significant that the central character is a women that that Campion is woman. I don't think Campion (however hard she may have tried) or anyone for that matter, can escape from responding to "patriarchy". What I think is important is the way Campion attempts to follow a patriarcichal examlpe such as when she uses the "male gaze" described in Kaplan's article "Is the Gaze Male?" when Baines looks at Ada. Also when Baines caresses the piano naked I thought of fetishism Saco described in her article on The Piano. However, Campion does also focus on sexualizing the male body such as when Baines is fully naked in the doorway and when Ada is stroking Stewart's rear. I'm not surprised that Campion doesn't think of her work as feminist. Ada and Flora (while central to the plot) are physically subjugated by men, which may be a nice construction for historical fiction, but doesn't really give off an "empowerment of women" vibe.

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The Piano, Saco, and Hooks

After watching The Piano, I have concluded that, it was not a feminist film. There are many examples throughout the movie in which I based my conclusion off of; however, the most significant example I found was the point and title of the film: the piano.
As Ada is mute, she cannot speak for herself. She uses her daughter as a sign language interpreter and she uses her piano as a way to express her feelings (this can be seen in multiple scenes, but mostly when she is with Baines). However, her daughter became influenced by men, this can be understood when Flora says that she’ll never call Alisdair her father, but starts to do so towards the end of the film. Thus Flora can, theoretically, be managed by men. That leaves Ada with her self-expression via her piano. But as Diana Saco states in her article “Feminist Film Criticism: The Piano and ‘The Female Gaze’?, even the piano “is subject to the whims of the male characters?. This can be understood as the piano is sold and then used as blackmail for sexual favors from Ada.

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September 17, 2008

The Piano

According to Saco, Ada in the film serves traditional role of woman without voice, literally. While the concept of “voice? is an important one in feminism, I think in some senses it downplays potentially “progressive? aspect of representing person who is speechless. Despite her being unable to speak she is quite assertive from the beginning and while not all her wishes materialize, she is not by any means simply a passive player. Her agency is also quite obvious in her ability to avoid, or at least, delay sexual contact with both male characters.
The commodification criticism is clearly an important one, but let’s not forget the context of the film – it’s a portrayal of mid-19th century colonial life of the Europeans.

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