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February 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
James Michael Loter <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 17 Feb 1994 15:39:35 -0600
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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On Thu, 17 Feb 1994, SandraB wrote:
> Correct me if I'm wrong, but for some reason I have in my head that there was
> the vague implication that she was sexually abused, that her silence was the
> result of that, or of some type of trauma or abuse.  Am I wrong on this?
i don't think it's necessarily WRONG but this line of inquiry has opened
up a question in my mind: does it MATTER?  i mean, this is a diegetic
world we're dealing with and it is clearly romantic and fantastic enough to
point to the allegorical and metaphorical themes other posters on this
thread have alluded to (e.g. virtual silence of feminine discourse in the
19th C., inability to vocalize or communicate one's position within
oppression, etc.)
One of the drawbacks of the film, i feel, is that the
voice-over narration (which seems so obviously tacked on at the last
moment) that acts as a prologue brings up the issue of her muteness.  the
problem is not that it is vague, but that it's there AT ALL.  the final
scene (the obligatory and gratuitous happy ending--the likes of which
haven't been seen since the wretched "lush green fields" ending of Blade
Runner) also "gives voice" to that which is best left unspoken--mainly,
her muteness.  it's clear in the film that any explanation the daughter
yields is a fabrication (struck by lightning, for instance).
to say that the film is somehow dificient because it's not realistic is
like saying that Star Wars is awful because creatures like that don't
really exist. the real problem with the Piano is that it TRIES--or at
least vaguely hints at--trying to BE "realistic" (trying to justify
itself) at times with its voice-overs.
i would have much more satisfied if no mention of her muteness was
made at all.
jim loter