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Cinema & Culture: Independent Film in the United States, 1980-2001


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The voice Stewart (Sam Neill) hears in his head is Ada's (Holly Hunter) "mind's voice" which the audience hears twice: in voice-over narration at the opening and closing of The Piano. The otherwise mute Ada describes her mind's voice to nine-year-old Flora (Anna Paquin) while attempting to explain the disappearance of the child's father. The scene is subtitled for the audience as mother communicates with daughter in sign language. Ada tells Flora that she did not need to speak with him (he remained unnamed) as she could, instead, lay her thoughts in his mind, "like they were a sheet." They were never married, however, because he got frightened and stopped listening.

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