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May 1994


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lee parpart <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 4 May 1994 21:18:18 EDT
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Hello. This is my first post to H-Film. I hope graduate students are welcome.
I'm in the midst of doing an MFA at York University (Toronto). My thesis is
about eroticism in Canadian cinema (not, I assure you, an oxymoron!), but I
have allowed myself to get waylaid (oh dear) by another topic for a while
and would like to see if anyone else is mulling over the same thing. The paper
I'm working on is about Campion's treatment of Maori natives in The Piano. I'm
much influenced by Robert Stam and am trying to bring a Bakhtinian perspective
to the whole question of how Campion manages and orchestrates the many voices
(and silences) she brings into the film. I am leaning towards the idea
that The Piano is probably more of a "pseudopolyphonic" discourse than a
true example of polyphony, in Bakhtin's use of the term, ie. as the fostering
of a textual setting where the voice of a group in question can be heard with
its full force and resonance.
In my background research I have come across very little writing about the
film's Maori subplot. Some of you may have read what bell hooks had to say
about the film in Woods Hole's Z Magazine, and I suppose I am
having to take her on to some extent (as dangerous as that probably is!)
Her conclusion that the film simply "romanticizes" and "glamorizes" violence
against natives, land (and women) seems to flatten out the text and ignore
some of its more progressive elements.
But as I say, I'm just a wee student, so I'm still working all of this out.
I'd be most appreciative of any thoughts or references people might care to
send my way.
 Lee Parpart
(York University, Film & Video)