Oscar Directors: Campion, Jane–Auteur, Vision

Research in progress: Nov 22, 2021.

Oscar Directors: Campion, Jane–Auteur, Vision

Is Jane Campion a feminist director?

Are her films oblivious to Hollywood conventions?

Her output is small, but it exhibits a quirky and offbeat tone.

She was able to leap the barrier and join the pantheon of great filmmakers with a small body of work.

Her status in current cinema is rather unusual, and problematic for some critics.

Campion is aware of these conventions, but she has demonstrated her ability to test and extend them, and thus make her contributions to cinema both significant and distinctive.

She negotiated the often-precarious transition from low-budget indies to international mainstream.

But her films remain innovative, and she retains authorial autonomy

Campion is notable for her refusal to direct the viewers’ attention and sympathy in any explicit way.

There are thematic and stylistic preoccupations, offering oblique and ironic look at familial dysfunction.

She has shown fascination with the absurdities of family life, with family’s perverse relationship.

Her films are marked by a startling visual style, which defamiliarizes conventions and accentuates the mise-en-scene.

The Piano

The Piano, made in 1993, her breakthrough feature, is still her best work, one of the most discussed films of the 1990s.

It attests her success as an uncompromising and idiosyncratic director.  No artistic or ideological concessions.

The Piano shows its debt to female Gothic literature, and to the woman’s film genre.

The movie is, on formal and thematic level, an explicitly feminist film,

It deconstructs voyeurism–characters are spying upon one another.

It confounds the convention of transparency.

It contains extra-diegetic animation.

It shows the recurrent motif of performance and masquerade.

The movie is full of contradictions: it’s a genuinely art work and commercial; it’s pure cinema as well as a film aimed at a large audience. It’s quirky and yet broadly appealing.

The film was universally praised, earning critic consensus from its very first showing.