Unlikely Optimism in Jane Campion’s film ‘The Piano’

The Piano, Jane Campion’s evocative narrative of envy and intrigue, is visually stunning, set against the untamed beauty of the New Zealand forests and shoreline. The critically acclaimed film follows Ada McGrath, a 19th century mute Scotswoman sent by her father to marry a man she has never met, in colonial New Zealand. Ada is accompanied by her wilful young daughter Flora and her treasured piano, the voice through which she expresses vivid emotion. While director Jane Campion has claimed that she is “averse to teaching messages,” The Piano highlights the powerlessness of women in patriarchal 19th century society, and condemns the brutality of their male oppressors and the British colonialism of the Maori homeland. The film further explores the differing perceptions of morality that existed at the time. Despite its dark themes, Campion’s creation ultimately contains a message of hope.

Through the principal character, Ada McGrath, Campion most clearly emphasises the destructive impact of patriarchal society upon women. Abandoned by the father of her child and shipped off to another country by her father, Campion conveys that Ada’s “dark talent” for silence is the product of her unconscious decision to exercise the little control she has. The audience is given a first insight into Ada’s new husband, Alistair Stewart, when he states that “God loves dumb animals, so why shouldn’t [he]?” This apparent statement of his intention to love, instead reveals that he regards his new wife as little more than an animal, and is in no way dissatisfied with her muteness, which only makes her less able to oppose his will. Stewart’s first act of cruelty to his wife is to deprive her of her piano, insisting it must be left on the beach. The suffering this causes Ada is emphasised by Campion’s cinematic shot of the lonely piano on the shore and Ada’s distraught expression. Campion conveys that this decision is fundamentally driven by Stewart’s sense of masculine superiority to Ada and preoccupation with the acquisition of property. Upon her arrival, Stewart circles his new wife as if inspecting an expensive purchase, eventually voicing his disappointment in her being “small” and “stunted”. Campion also highlights the oppression of women through Stewart’s selfish decision to trade away Ada’s piano to Baines for a parcel of land. Not only does Stewart deprive Ada of her piano for personal gain, her forces her to give lessons to Baines, who she initially fears and perceives as an illiterate “savage.” Stewart’s expectation that Ada be a submissive and compliant wife, is clearly conveyed by Campion through his rage at her refusal to give lessons and hypocritical assertion that “we all have to make sacrifices!”

Campion’s film also explores the complex relationship between the Maori people and the colonists, such as Stewart. While viewed as “savages” by the white settlers, the Maori people are inherently the more civilised group, with a far stronger sense of morality. This is exemplified by the Maoris’ interruption of the settlers’ production of “Bluebeard,” when they fear that several of the female actors are about to be harmed. Rather than presenting the Maori as ignorant, Campion utilises this scene to suggest that they have a sense of basic decency that many of the settlers lack. The compassion of the Maori for Flora after Stewart’s brutal actions reinforces this concept. The surroundings of Stewart’s elaborate European style cabin –the remains of the charred trunks of the forest he has aggressively burned and chopped into ‘civilised’ order, highlights the destruction caused by supposedly ‘civil’ actions. Having the most ‘civilised’ character commit the act of the greatest brutality reinforces this dichotomy.

Particularly through the quixotic character of Flora, Campion sheds light upon differing perceptions of moral behaviour. While Flora does begin calling Stewart “Papa” late in the film, it is not the desire for a family which motivates her loyalty to him, but rather the influence of Stewart’s rigid moral code. Encompassing the misogynistic, seen through his treatment of Ada, as well as the ridiculous, such as believing that Flora could “shame the trees” by kissing them, Stewart’s sense of morality is shown by Campion to be the twisted product of his ‘civilised’ upbringing and to be totally inapplicable to life in New Zealand. The influence of this perception of morality upon impressionable Flora is seen through her admonishing Ada for visiting Baines, even as Stewart locks them both in his cabin. Flora’s angel wings are used by Campion to symbolically represent her belief in the morality of her actions. Flora wears the wings as she runs to deliver the message to Baines. However, tellingly, she steps into the mud as she changes path, instead deciding to give the missive to Stewart. Furthermore, Campion ultimately remains sympathetic to Flora’s naïve character, as shown by the symbolic ‘washing’ of the tainted wings in a stream before she and Ada leave with Baines.

Forming a sub-plot of oppression between the settlers and Maori that mirrors the suppression of Ada at the hands of Stewart, the inclusion of the Maori is an essential facet of Campion’s film. Campion condemns the incursions of the settlers, represented by Stewart in the film, through a Maori chief’s refusal to pass through sacred burial grounds on the journey from the beach to Stewart’s home. Stewart’s ignorance is highlighted by his spoken belief that this is simply a ploy of the Maori to gain more money, wholly dismissing their unwillingness to disturb the graves of their ancestors. Stewart’s later comments to Baines that the Maori “don’t cultivate the land” or “use” it and can therefore have no real ownership of it, emphasise his arrogant view that only ‘civilised’ appropriation of the land constitutes legitimate ownership.

On the surface it may appear reasonable to view The Piano as an incredibly depressing, miserable and bleak film. The film’s message is a dark one, highlighting the commodification and powerlessness of women in the 19th century, while also condemning the brutal incursions of colonialism in New Zealand. The film encompasses confronting scenes of violence, such as Stewart’s ruthless dismemberment of Ada’s finger after he discovers her “heart belongs to” his compatriot George Baines. Stewart’s cruelty towards his wife is an enormously disheartening element of the film, exemplified first through his refusal to have her most precious possession and ‘voice’, the piano, carried from the beach to his home, despite her wordless pleadings. However further analysis of the film reveals a message of hope. Despite all that she suffers at the hands of her husband and her lack of control over her fate, Ada is able to escape his ownership of her and begin a new life in Nelson with Baines and Flora. This sense of hope is underscored by Campion through Ada’s declaration that “my will has chosen life!” as she kicks to the surface instead of choosing to drown with her piano.

Breaking the Shackles: Transforming ‘The Piano’ from Script to Screen

In Jane Campion’s dramatic and societally informative film ‘The Piano’, scenes 112-119 are key in conveying Campion’s messages around the restrained society depicted in the mid-19th century era in which the film is set. These scenes act as the emotional and thematic pinnacle of the film, bringing to fruition and building upon the established imbalance existing between two of the main characters, Alasdair Stewart (Sam Neill) and his imported, mute wife Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), and using atrocious violence in order to condemn restrained society. Throughout the film, these two characters are depicted as the antithesis of the other in terms of adherence to this restrictive and restrained society – Stewart values the patriarchal system of the time, and views women, including Ada, as subordinate, and requiring control and management. In contrast, Ada is depicted as socially deviant, evident through her state of elective muteness, but also through the stubborn nature she exhibits in the face of men. The unease existing in the relationship between these two is shown to be ultimately the result of the restrained society in which they live, and of the disparity between the two in terms of their societal views and expectations. Scenes 112-119 fundamentally act as the most significant moment in the film in which Campion condemns the restrained nature of society, through the abhorrent violence on Stewart’s behalf, and the society he comes to represent, in cutting off his wife’s finger in an intensely brutal manner. In these scenes, and the foundational scenes before it, Campion employs filmic techniques such as the use of music, lighting, framing, costume and casting in order to enhance the clear intentions of these scenes as outlined in the script, in order to make them more visually arresting and effective in engendering the viewer to align themselves with Campion’s negative view of the restrained society at the time.

These intentions of scenes 112-119 are highly dependent on both the respective characters of Ada and Stewart, and the nature of the relationship existing between the two. The characters contrast with one another in terms of their adherence to societal expectations, especially in terms of gender roles. Ada is consistently depicted as a woman who runs against the societal grain of the time, in which women were commonly treated as beings intended to live under a set of restrictions valuing restrained and dignified behavior. This is conveyed very holistically throughout the movie, despite Ada’s muteness, through the casting of Hunter in the role and the visually arresting performance she gives which helps transform the character of Ada. This is exemplified in Scene 10, in which Ada conveys vigorous disdain for the seamen’s wishes, and does so by employing a sign language that is composed of sharp and nimble movements, evoking a socially deviant and defiant spirit in the face of men, whilst women, according to the societal values of the time, were expected to wilt in confrontational situations with men. This defiance is reinforced further by Ada’s facial expression in this scene, with an incredibly steadfast glare employed by Hunter in this scene. One of Campion’s principal reasons for selecting Hunter to play Ada over other actress was that ‘her gaze was stupendous’ – Campion evidently places high importance on Hunter’s ability to convey her stubborn and strong-willed nature through her facial expressions, in order to emphasize Ada’s societal deviance. Neither the nature of sign language or Ada’s facial expression are dictated in the script, and therefore transform and embellish Ada’s character to leave the audience with a distinct impression and understanding of Ada’s true stubborn and deviant essence, implying her lack of societal adherence.

Stewart, in contrast, is portrayed in the film through many filmic facets, as well as dialogue, as a typical patriarchal colonialist of the time who values the restrained way in which society generally expected people to behave. The casting of Sam Neill in the role of Stewart was important for Campion as she wanted the character to have a charm and attractiveness about him, and this aids in Neill’s depiction of Stewart as a character who struggles to come terms with the confrontation he experiences at the hands of Ada’s deviant and standoffish nature. An example of this can be found in Scene 49 in which Stewart asks Ada whether he should give her a goodnight kiss. Ada of course remains silent, phasing Stewart and causing him to pause awkwardly for a moment before exiting the room without speaking. The atmosphere in the room which Stewart enters is described as ‘impenetrate’ in the script, indicating that he finds it incomprehensible and displacing. The portrayal of Stewart in this scene by Neill is pivotal in the accentuation of this impenetrableness and the imbalance that exists between the two, in terms of the nervousness and trouble conveyed by Neill’s overwhelmed facial expressions, which works in tandem with his initial charming and tender persona as cast by Campion, as a result of being faced with a woman who symbolizes the confrontation of his every societal belief. This is transformed further from the script by the way in which Campion directs this exchange between Ada and Stewart, in which she frames Stewart’s face in a very tight, close shot, which helps to convey the magnitude of the provocation Stewart experiences as a result of this woman who shatters Stewart’s shell of disillusion in terms of the restrained society he knows, and comes to represent throughout the film. Costuming is also vital in Campion’s depiction of Stewart as an adherent to the restrained society, in that he frequently wears heavy, dark and constrictive clothes with many layers and tightly fastened buttons that are described as ‘muddy and out of place here in the bush’, implying Stewart’s earnest to uphold the traditional European garments and the restrained nature of society associated with them. In contrast the more socially deviant character of Baines, with whom Ada shares a deeper connection, tends to wear lighter and more airy and open garments, speaking further volumes about Ada’s social deviance.

After carefully constructing this social imbalance in the relationship of Ada and Stewart, it is in Scenes 112-119 that Campion hopes to deliver her views and values around restrained society in an emotionally striking and potent way to the viewer. In Scenes 112-119, Stewart is alerted to Ada’s attempt to convey her love to her clandestine partner, Baines. Stewart erupts into an unquenchable rage and chops Ada’s finger off with an axe, restricting her principle form of self-expression in rendering her incapable of playing the piano. The most important transformations made by Campion from the script in order to condemn the restrained society of the time include the use of music throughout the scenes (as well as the absence of sound), the lighting and camera coloring techniques employed, and the framing used in particular shots. These filmic techniques allow Campion to transform a script with thematic bones into an emotionally arresting sequence that transcends the screen and works to condemn Stewart and the restrained society he embodies through the emotionally fraught nature of the scene and its abhorrent violence.

According to Campion, the music, composed by Michael Nyman, is ‘the heart of the film’. No musical directions are specified for Scenes 112-119 in the script, however the musical arrangement within the scene is pivotal in conveying the critical messages of the scene, and is therefore a significant transformation that Campion made from script to film. The music commences once Stewart picks up the axe, and works in combination with the way the shot is framed. Stewart is stumbling, almost blindly, down a steep hill, and the music has an almost trickling or cascading quality as it grows louder and more fast in tempo, helping to emphasie Stewart’s emotional and mental unravelling. This helps to build tension in the viewer early in the scene, and deepens the ominous atmosphere of the scene. The music plays its most crucial role however, when Ada is being dragged by Stewart toward the woodchop – as she gropes to get away, and as Stewart gains more and more control over Ada, the tempo of the music increases to a rapid and feverish tempest of sound which attempts to both emotionally capture and overwhelm the viewer here. Another notable feature of the music at this specific point is that it becomes more skewed and off-beat, almost lopsided, deviating from the general rigidity in the rhythm of this piece (‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First’). This change in rhythm most practically helps to peak the audience’s attention to the scene, hence making them more receptive to the views and values associated with the scene, but also is representative of the imbalance and stress Ada is being put under, and cause them to feel repulsed by the treatment of Ada by Stewart, ultimately with the hope of creating disdain in the viewer for the restrained society that Stewart is fundamentally tied to. After Ada’s finger has been chopped off, the intense music immediately drops away to nothing, before entering a significantly more gentle and slow phase, which evokes a sense of the sheer shock, violation and defilement Ada has experienced at the hands of Stewart here, through the depressively dull and downtrodden music, engendering anger against Stewart. Ultimately, the music in Scenes 112-119 plays a number of intricate roles which help endear the viewer to plight of Ada, and engender disgust in the viewer for Stewart’s treatment of Ada, and the restrictive societal views from which this stems.

Another significant transformation made by Campion from script to film in order to condemn restrained society is the atmosphere created and captured in the scene through the use of camera coloring and scenery. The scene starts out in a relatively bright and lush environment, before Stewart learns of Ada’s intentions, and here it is evident that a naturally colored or no color lens is being used on the camera. As he becomes enraged however, the sky darkens, and the camera color darkens to a blue hue which creates a darker air. The scenery also transitions in this way, changing from the fecundity of the wild New Zealand bush to the harsh, dying trees and mud surrounding the colonialist cottage of Stewart. This transition of scenery is effective in creating an ominousness and disturbance in the viewer which causes them to further distance themselves emotionally and thematically from the character of Stewart, who is evidently giving rise to this disturbance. None of these atmospheric changes are dictated in the script, and are yet further filmic transformations that Campion makes from script to film in order to degrade the integrity of Stewart’s actions, and consequently the restrained societal state he upholds and promotes.

Framing of shots is also crucial to the thematic intentions of scenes 112-119; the way in which the scenes are captured not only gives rise to a level of pity and angst for what is happening to Ada at the hands of Stewart, but also involves the audience in what is occurring on scene, hence making them more emotionally receptive and engrossed in what they see. The most notable example of this is when Ada, in the clutches of Stewart, is being pulled closer and closer to the woodchop. We then see Ada briefly escape, and in a direct close up shot she grapples and flails in the mud directly into the face of the camera. This draws the viewer into the scene; the shot has an air of Ada appealing to the viewer for help due to it being directly face-on, and therefore the viewer is intended to feel a great emotional tension. This shot is also significant in that due to her flailing, Ada does not stay fully in the frame but rushes in and out, almost like a blur, which helps to accentuate the rapid desperation of her movements and emphasize the fear she must be experiencing, helping to further the viewer’s intended impression that the violence and manhandling of Ada is deplorable and condemnable. Once Ada is reeled in again by Stewart, the audience is provoked to feel great disgust for the man who is inflicting such emotionally torturous violence upon Ada – and as established earlier in the film, this dominant management and control of women evidently stems from Stewart’s societal beliefs and values, all of which adhere to a restrained society, which the viewer is here provoked to condemn.

Fundamentally, Scenes 112-119 are centered on the egregious violence inflicted upon Ada by Stewart, and through filmic transformational techniques involving music, framing, lighting, setting and scenery, Campion brings the scene to life in such a way that the viewer is intended to be both disgusted by Stewart’s violence, and deeply endeared towards Ada, as well as women of the era in general, who are assumed to be treated in the same subordinate manner. Darkness, tension and a great sense of brutality are established around Stewart and his actions through these filmic transformations from the script, which helps promote a higher level of disdain and shock for Stewart and his actions than if the script were simply to be read. In this way, the scenes are visually transformed so that the viewer is intended to resent the restrained society that is upheld by Stewart throughout the film (mainly through the casting of Neill and costuming) and grow a higher level of appreciation for Ada’s strong-willed and stubborn nature, and therefore the less restrained society she represents through this behavior.

Symbols for Men and Women in Scenes 112-118 of ‘The Piano’

In Jane Campion’s ‘The Piano’, scenes 112 to 118 depict Flora’s betrayal of her mother, Ada, as she takes the piano key intended for her clandestine lover Baines, instead to Ada’s husband, Stewart. This betrayal subsequently results in Stewart reacting in a violent manner and decapitating Ada’s index finger with an axe. In terms of context, this scene follows briefly after Ada’s return to Baines’ hut after accepting her desire for his affection, resulting in Stewart keeping her captive within his cottage. Ada then shows affection towards Stewart but he rejects her advances, with this scene following swiftly afterwards. Following this scene, Stewart decides to let Baines and Ada elope together after he believes he hears Ada’s voice within his head pleading him to let her be free. This scene is a momentous one within the film as it is the climax of a significant build-up of tension and angst within the relationship of Ada and Stewart, most notably from Stewart, who struggles to come to terms with Ada’s stubborn and unaffectionate nature, a combination of qualities seen to be socially deviant for a married woman in the era in which ‘The Piano’ is set. In this way, the scene is notable in that it allows Campion to convey her views and values associated with gender roles, and more specifically the treatment of women in a subordinate and constrictive manner by men of the time. This scene acts as the emotional pinnacle of the numerous examples Campion provides to the viewer of the level of control and degradation exhibited over women such as Ada, with the viewer forced to endure an abhorrent level of violence towards Ada, which is evidently intended by Stewart to inflict pain on her both physically and mentally, in restricting her principal form of self-expression by preventing her from playing the piano. Ultimately, these scenes, which comes towards the conclusion of the film, in conjunction with other interrelated scenes throughout the film, allow Campion to make a final, and intentionally shocking statement to reinforce the views and values associated with the flawed aspects of a male-dominated society, and the state of feminism within ‘The Piano’.

Throughout the film, the relationship between Stewart and Ada is portrayed as an unbalanced one, lacking both chemistry and prospective future happiness; this is established from the outset of the film when Stewart remarks in Ada’s smallness, and also talks loudly to Ada, despite her hearing being perfectly adequate. This indicates that Stewart views Ada in a derogatory manner as a result of her muteness, and that her purpose to him only occupies the physical sphere of being; in her potential ability to bear children as well as her capacity to work and add to his wealth. This initial meeting is representative of Stewart’s patriarchal nature, which contrasts strongly with Ada’s abnormal stubbornness and willful demeanor, exemplified by her unwillingness to be ‘affectionate’ with Stewart, and implies that the relationship between the two is irreparably flawed and somewhat doomed. In scenes 112 to 118, the magnitude of Stewart’s frustration and unease in regards to the unorthodox nature of his imported wife is brought to the fore and unveiled for the audience, with a intentionally confronting and disturbing scene. Element of the screenplay that convey this intended level of distress include the descriptions of Ada’s head as ‘held twisted between the wood chop and Stewart’s leg’ and Ada being grasped by the necks of her dregs and hair. This emotional eruption of Stewart is also aided by the script and its descriptions in that the scene begins with a sense of honesty, purity and hope. Prior to these scenes, Ada promises not to visit Baines, and Stewart begins to look optimistically toward their future together, hoping that ‘one day, [Ada] might come to like [him]’. As dictated by the script, the piano key is swaddled in white cotton, again reinforcing a sense of purity initially in the scene. As the scene progresses however, this sense of hope and immaculacy is diminished, as the setting progresses to one of a dark sky and heavy rain, before Stewart bursts into the cottage and unleashes his fury upon Ada, shattering the calm atmosphere set up initially in the sequence. This scenic progression helps add drama to and enhance the scale of Stewart’s outburst, helping to emphasize his true level of discomfort in regards to Ada which remained shadowed and dulled for the majority of the film, rearing its head only in a smattering of awkward and ambiguous objections to the behaviors and manners of Ada, such as when Stewart questions Ada’s sanity when he discovers her modeling the playing of her piano using a table inside the cottage.

The significance of this contrast in emotional intensity is that the audience finally learns about the reality of Stewart’s character, in that he is zealously discontent with Ada’s abnormalities, indicating the discontentment he experiences at the hands of Ada’s unusual behaviors. Campion uses this scene to accentuate her evident view around the state of feminism in the post-colonialist era. With Stewart embodying the typical European agriculturalist of the era, he acts as an everyman in the film, and allows the viewer to gather that his uneasiness would have been a common thread amongst males of a similar social standing at the time. Fundamentally, upon marrying Ada, Stewart expected a straightforward child-bearer, worker and lover, and was not prepared to get tangled up in the complexities of Ada’s character, as emphasized by the way in which he treats her throughout the film, most notably in the early scenes on the beach. In providing Stewart with an axe with which to sever Ada’s finger in scenes 112-118, Campion further emphasizes these evident values of Stewart, in that the axe is frequently shown in the film as a tool that is used to control the wildness of the land, and in chopping off Ada’s finger in attempt to tame her, he equates her to the land as something to be controlled and managed, rather than an equal being. This notion of inequality in Stewart’s mind is reinforced moreover within these scenes as he makes lopsided exclamations to Ada, such as ‘I could love you.’, which focus heavily on Stewart’s perceived level of output into the relationship, disregarding what he receives in return, indicating that he does not see the value in a reciprocal relationship, spawning further indication to the viewer that Stewart views women as inferior beings. Stewart emphatically emphasizes his uneasiness in regards to Ada’s persona by cleaving the piano, directly attacking her state of elective muteness by restricting her principal form of self-expression, indicating he resents this aspect of her, again implying to the viewer that Ada’s deformities infuriate and displace him. According to the screenplay notes, upon Stewart striking the piano, it lets out a ‘deep resonant moan’. The use of the word ‘moan’ indicates that Campion intends here for the abuse of the piano to be perceived by the audience as a painful and torturous experience, indicating that Campion views the sort of maltreatment and control exhibited over Ada by Stewart is abhorrent and condemnable, and wishes the audience to share this view.

Another important element of the screenplay in scenes 112-118 used to convey views and values around gender roles is the mud that dapples itself as a motif constantly throughout the film. After having her finger severed, Ada is seen to ‘sink into the mud’, as quoted from the script. This sinking is symbolic of the restriction and oppression that Ada experiences continually throughout the film at the hands of Stewart; from the extended period in which is separated from her piano to the way in which he barters with it for personal gain. Before scenes 112-118, Ada tramples and squelches in the mud a numerous amount of times, however the sinking in this scene is the first time the mud fully envelops Ada’s being, symbolizing the extent to which Stewart has defiled her on this occasion. This ‘sinking’ juxtaposes with later scenes in the film, once Ada has been freed from Stewart, most notably the scene in which Ada is being pulled down by the piano in the ocean (yet another oppressive motif linkable to Stewart), but then she pulls free and rises to the surface, the antithesis of the sinking portrayed earlier in the film. Given that this uplifting experience occurs when she is rid of Stewart and with a more unconventional character in the form of Baines, this contrast between the sinking exhibited in scenes 112-118 and the rising serves to convey to the audience Campion’s evident view that the systematically subordinate treatment of women by post-colonialist and patriarchal men such as Stewart is oppressive and shameful.

A significant symbol and role within scenes 112-118 is that of Flora and her angel wings. In the scene Flora acts as the messenger intended by Ada to bridge the gap between her and Baines, however she betrays Ada for Stewart, most likely as a result of the way in which Baines monopolizes the majority of Ada’s attention and devotion in the latter stages of the film. Through Flora, Campion is evidently making commentary around the consequences of an untraditional childhood, or being stuck in a highly transitional state between childhood and adulthood as Flora is. Throughout the film, Flora is required to immerse herself in adult concerns and as a result, she is highly perceptive and savvy to exchanges between adults. Despite this, Flora remains a child, and one of the main roles of the angel wings in the film is to serve as a reminder of this. Flora has a fragmented understanding of the goings-on between Ada and Baines, but cannot holistically understand the emotions and complications of the situation due to her true age. This, in combination with the gradual separation Flora experiences from Ada across the film, leads her to betray her mother for Stewart in scene 116. As specified by the script, the angel wings donned by Flora gradually muddy across these scenes, before she is ultimately splattered in her mother’s blood as a result of her actions. This muddying acts as a symbol of the destruction of Flora’s remaining innocence, and serves to remind the viewer of the ramifications of the splintered nature of a child who is forced to integrate into a world in which she evidently does not belong. This unsuitable life of Flora later contrasts with the happier, more content girl pictured at the conclusion of the film when she is finally free of this fragmented world, as her mother is both learning to speak, and has been reunited with her piano, allowing her to express herself rather than depending on Flora to do so. Flora is pictured here doing cartwheels and wearing white, symbolizing the childhood and carelessness which she has regained as a result of her new life with Baines, which further serves to enhance the viewer’s positive impression of Baines, and allows Campion to further convey the views and values associated with this natural and emotionally charged man, who contrasts starkly with the character of Stewart.

Scenes 112-118 are evidently plentiful in their aforementioned imagery, symbolism and characterization, all of which are promoted by the various elements of the script, from the screenplay directions to the direct dialogue. These elements, working with prior and post occurrences in the film, particularly in a contrasting manner, help to evoke some of the key thematic messages of the film around the role of women in the era, the nature in which men were accustomed to treating women, and how this contrasts with women’s desires to be beings of free will and individuality, as well as the innate, innocent nature of children, and the level of unbalance this can cause if this pure innocence is infringed upon too early by adult concerns. These scenes are pivotal in Campion conveying her views and values also, in that the dictated screen directions in the screenplay, such as the macabre details around the twisting of Ada’s head, allow her to either condemn or condone these actions, and ultimately present these views and values to the viewer is such an emotionally fraught way that it is likely to remain a part of their consciousness for a long time.