Anyone interested in a different perspective of the themes, images, etc.
in _The Piano_ should check out Clarissa Estes' book _Women Who Run With
the Wolves_. It's a book much like _Iron John_ and a host of others that
re-examine archetypical mayths and fairy tales.
Two fairytales from the book - "The Handless Maiden" and "Bluebeard" -
seem to show up a lot in the film. In "Maiden" a young woman is dealt to
the devil by her father; when she refuses him, her hands are cut off. From
this point she goes on to have several adventures, along the way meeting
and falling in love with a king who makes her a pair of silver hands.
Through all of her trials, though, she never loses her innocence and
Estes relates that "Bluebeard" is about being too naive and trusting,
being wooed by something that is dangerous. In the end the young woman in
the fairytale is rescued by learning to trust her instincts and by her
brothers - much like the natives in _Piano_ rushing from the
audience to save the actress during the play.
So look at the book and see the film again; it helped me sort of as a
study guide, and to stop seeing it so much in filmic terms and more as a
modern fairy tale. It's also a very interesting text in itself.
U. of Iowa