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Romanticizing Colonialism: Power and Pleasure in Jane Campion's The Piano

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Title: Romanticizing Colonialism: Power and Pleasure in Jane Campion's The Piano
Authors: DuPuis, Reshela
Keywords: Jane Campion
New Zealand
show 3 moreThe Piano
feminist film criticism

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LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.
Issue Date: 1996
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: DuPuis, R. 1996. Romanticizing Colonialism: Power and Pleasure in Jane Campion's The Piano. The Contemporary Pacific 8 (1): 51-79.
Abstract: This article explores how Jane Campion's award-winning 1993 film, The Piano,
succeeds in transposing nineteenth-century sex-and-race-bound colonial structures
of meaning onto a colonialist narrative of twentieth-century romance, and
examines the underlying political implications of that transposition. It argues
that, through the use of filmic representations that produce both cultural and historical
"knowledge," the film is inherently engaged in a politics of the relations
of power. Through close textual analysis, the article demonstrates that through
its "visible" narrative and dialogue and the "invisible" film vocabulary of miseen-
scene, camera angle, shot, and editing technique, the film both emerges from
and continues to engage in the nineteenth-century colonial system's ideological
project of sustaining white, western, male-dominant global economic and political
superiority. Campion's attempt to mask her film's underlying significating formalism in a narrative of romantic passion set in an ahistorical fantasy world
inadequately disguises her authorization of a gendered, racialized, and distinctly
contemporary colonialist politics. The article ends by calling for cultural critics
to more vigorously analyze the interlocking structures of racism and sexism in
other recent Euro-Arnerican films about the colonial era.
ISSN: 1043-898X
Appears in Collections:TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1996 - Volume 8, Number 1

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