Jane Campion, director of The Piano, has revealed she wanted a much darker ending to the 1993 classic film, where the main character Ada drowns rather than survives. Nyman’s haunting piano music makes up an integral part of the film, as Ada is unable to speak and shares her emotions by playing the piano.
All Imperfect Things by Michael Nyman is the soundtrack to the iconic final scene, where Ada ties herself to her beloved piano as it’s thrown from a boat, eventually floating to the surface to begin a new life. If Campion had gone a step further, however, the end and its music may have been quite different.
Speaking to the Radio Times, Campion reflected on the film, 20 years on. “I thought some of it was really good, but I thought, ‘For freaking hell’s sake, she should have stayed under there’,” she said. “It would be more real, wouldn’t it, it would be better? I didn’t have the nerve at the time. What if Ada just went down, she went down with her piano – that’s it.”
Nyman’s soundtrack album was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (but lost to the score of Heaven & Earth) and the BAFTA Award for Best Score, losing out to Schindler’s List. The film itself picked up a number of accolades including three Academy Awards, three BAFTAs, and a Golden Globe Award.