Inspired by “The Piano”
About 10K into my current WIP, I needed to find a piece of music. Something that my MC could dance to, that would give her ALL THE FEELS. And something that would give me ALL THE FEELS too, so I could write about her. It needed to be timeless, instrumental.
The song that came to mind is The Heart Asks Pleasure First by Michael Nyman, from “The Piano”. I hadn’t actually thought of either the song or the movie for years, though I adored the film when it came out in 1993. It has all the elements I crave in a movie, or a book for that matter – passion, tragedy, obsession, suspense, beautiful scenery, and a strong female lead. And by strong, I mean someone with a will of steel and an indomitable spirit. perhaps hidden behind a quiet demeanor. Maybe a survivor. Someone who will risk everything for love.
Want to hear something strange? I’d already written my MC as a selective mute when I went looking for a song. I’d forgotten Ada (the MC in “The Piano”) was a selective mute until I watched the video. You can see she wears a small pad on a ribbon around her neck, and her daughter uses sign language. Orla, my MC, uses her cell phone a lot.
If you’ve never seen the movie, I highly recommend it. Here’s the song…
Has a particular film influenced your writing, subconsciously or otherwise?
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Now I need to see The Piano again. It’s been years. Lovely song. Although I didn’t realize it until afterward, my trilogy was deeply influenced by the movie Gladiator. I can still be taken to my own world by the music of Lisa Gerrard, who sang on the soundtrack and did the theme song, Now We Are Free. Another inspiring post, Rhiann!
“Funny” how music seeps into your soul and oozes back out during the creative process, eh?
Oh, Orla sounds interesting! Did you know sign language before you started writing Orla’s story? I’m curious bec I used to work as an ASL interpreter and I found Deaf culture absolutely fascinating. It’d be awesome to read a story with a main character who uses Sign Lang, doesn’t seem like there are very many out there.
I think I’ve been inspired by pretty much all of Steven Spielberg’s films. Oh and Star Wars too- I think George Lucas & Steven Spielberg have a way of romanticizing their main characters & though I’m nowhere near as skilled at character development as they are I admire their work and probably subconsciously emulate it to the best of my ability.
Orla doesn’t use sign language, she uses her cell to text and write notes. She chooses not to speak. One of my college roomies majored in deaf ed. Fiona and Ada (in “The Piano”) did use some sign language and I believe Holly Hunter taught Anna Paquin how to sign. Holly also did her own piano work.
She wasn’t selectively mute, but I had a friend in school who was Deaf but did not sign. She was one of the first people I knew with a “talking” laptop, and that was how she communicated most of the time. I still haven’t seen The Piano. I was in middle school and too cool for school when it came out and never got back around to it.
I’m sure you can find it on Netflix 🙂 I had a friend whose daughter was selectively mute, overcame it with therapy. My MC has a different scenario…
Love this film! Hearing this song again on your page, gave me chills! Cool post!
It gives me chills too, esp. the violins 🙂
What a beautiful song!
I love the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”. The themes in it are the same ones I try to capture in my writing: struggle, redemption, the strength and endurance of the human spirit. Maybe that sounds lofty for a romance novelist, but I like to think I’m answering a higher call 🙂
Also a great movie. It’s always good to aim high 🙂
Yeah, things are definitely getting a little kooky you!!! And, I’ve never seen The Piano…I obviously need to! Also your WiP sounds intriguing!
Yes, absolutely, you should see it!
I haven’t seen The Piano for years but it is a beautiful film. I think movie soundtracks have the power to turn good films into great films – Gladiator and Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet springs to mind – in my opinion the best soundtracks out there! I’m glad you’ve found the perfect piece of music for your MC.
Well, I suspect it’s only one of the pieces she will require. I’ll probably be spending time with Nine Inch Nails too 😉
I love this movie and music too. Have you been watching the new Jane Campion/Holly Hunter collaboration Top of the Lake?
I haven’t, I’ll have to check it out. Though I have to say one of the best things about The Piano is that Holly Hunter plays a mute…
Ha! That made me laugh :p
I love ‘THE FEELS’ – how awesome you found the right piece of music, and with similar connections. I loved the Piano too – a great movie on many levels!
I thought of you when I was watching the video, wondering if you’re anywhere near where it was filmed.
It was filmed at Kare Kare, about an hour from where we were living (in Auckland) at the time. So the familiarity added another level to the movie. Although it was set in colonial times, I’ve tramped up there in the rain, and can totally identify with the mud… Is beautiful though.
I love this movie, and I still often listen to its soundtrack. Interesting to hear your MC is a selective mute… we both seem to like the challenge of a MC with communication issues 😉
Yes, indeed! I hope I get to read “Lily” some day 🙂
You inspire me to watch The Piano again. I don’t remember the song, but now hearing it, it seems amazing I’d have forgotten. 🙂
Well, I’m glad to have reintroduced you 🙂
I never saw that movie, but I love the song. It’s funny how a song can do that, isn’t it? Just totally define a character in your head. All my characters are definitely defined by whatever music I was listening to while writing them.
You should definitely see the movie 🙂
I love it when “strange” coincidences like this happen when writing. I’ve experienced my share and it’s such an incredible feeling. The song and your story sound beautiful. I can’t wait to CP. *rubs hands together* P.S. I don’t believe in coincidences 🙂
Me too. And me either. I had so many weird things happen when I was writing my first book, I wish I’d written them down because now I’ve forgotten all but two.
That’s a very pretty song. I’ve never actually seen The Piano. But now I want to.
Well, good. If you do see it, you’ll have to tell me if you liked it or not.
First of all, this song is fabulous.
Second, I love this: “And by strong, I mean someone with a will of steel and an indomitable spirit. perhaps hidden behind a quiet demeanor. Maybe a survivor. Someone who will risk everything for love.” I think too often people say “risking everything for love” is weak. They say that a strong person wouldn’t give up or risk everything for someone else. I don’t believe that, and I love that you acknowledge the bravery and strength behind such a risk.
As for my work, well. I continuously find inadvertent Beauty & the Beast similarities and references. Go figure.
Thank you, I’m glad the song and my thoughts resonated with you. Beauty and the Beast, yes, love transforms us all, both in another’s eyes and in our own.
Funny how we make those links, whether intentional or not!
I’m more influenced by films than books. Something about the audio-visual cinematic experience that stays with me. Plus, the shorter, stronger scenes and set-pieces from films are much more memorable for me. They always serve as a subconscious piece of inspiration for my work!
Thanks for sharing 🙂
I often write my scenes while picturing them as cinema, and I bet you do too.
Beautiful song. I’ve never seen the movie. I’ll have to look for it on Netflix.
If I were to write (and I don’t think I’m disciplined – or uninhibited- enough to do it) movies & novels like Love in the Time of Cholera, Housekeeping, and Like Water for Chocolate would be influential. Genealogical research would be too.
The first is on my “to see” list, and I did see the third when it first came out and liked it very much. I’ll have to go look up the second… Writing does take discipline, but fiction is the perfect place to let go of inhibitions 🙂