The Piano Lesson (film)

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The Piano Lesson
The Piano Lesson cover.jpg
Directed by Lloyd Richards
Produced by August Wilson
Brent Shields
Screenplay by August Wilson
Based on The Piano Lesson
by August Wilson
Starring Charles S. Dutton
Alfre Woodard
Carl Gordon
Tommy Hollis
Music by Dwight Andrews
Stephen James Taylor
Cinematography Paul Elliott
Edited by Jim Oliver
Production
company
Craig Anderson Productions
Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions
Distributed by CBS
Republic Pictures
Release date
  • February 5, 1995 (1995-02-05) (Television debut)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Piano Lesson is a 1995 American television film based on the play The Piano Lesson by August Wilson. Produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame, the film originally aired on CBS on February 5, 1995. Directed by Lloyd Richards, the film stars Charles S. Dutton and Alfre Woodard,[1][2] and relies on most of its cast from the original Broadway production.[3]

Plot[edit]

Boy Willie (Charles S. Dutton) and his friend Lymon (Courtney B. Vance) travel from Mississippi to Pittsburgh, where he wishes his sister Berniece (Alfre Woodard) to give him the family's heirloom piano so that he can sell it to buy land from Mr. Sutter (Tim Hartman), a descendent of the family that once owned Willy's own ancestors as slaves. The piano itself had at one time belonged to the wife of the original Sutter, the white former owner of their family... and decades earlier, Berniece and Willy Boy's grandfather had, at the slave master's instructions, carved the black family's African tribal history and American slave history into the piano's surface.

When Boy Willie arrives, his Uncle Doaker (Carl Gordon) tells Willie that Berniece won't part with the piano. Berniece's boyfriend Avery (Tommy Hollis) and her Uncle Wining Boy (Lou Myers) also attempt for reasons of their own to get Berniece to sell. As selling the piano would be like turning her back on their people and their past, Berniece continues to refuse.

Cast[edit]

Recognition[edit]

DVD Verdict wrote that the "excellent writing leaps off the screen." While noting that most TV films seem geared "towards the lowest common Nielsen family demographic", they write that "something crafted, filled with inordinate drama and rich, dimensional characters just blares across the airwaves, filling up your deepest, hungry cinematic aesthetic," and that this recognition is the case for the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize winning play The Piano Lesson. They noted that Wilson has been long known for "profound, deeply moving portraits of African Americans in the United States," and that he "understands the issues facing minorities better than most modern playwrights do." They called the film a "brilliant analog," and a "fable of magic realism."[3]

TV Guide wrote that the film is "a wrenching but flawed cable adaptation of August Wilson's play," and that while the film was another Wilson "folk tale about the legacy of slavery," that "Sadly, this particular production fails to make any psychological or ectoplasmic ghosts come alive for the audience." They noted this was not because the film did not make the playwright's message clear, the problem was in "its obviousness" in that Wilson belabored his points.[2]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1996, Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Made for Television Movie
  • 1995, Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1995, Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1995, Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing for a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1995, Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Miniseries or a Special – Single Camera Production
  • 1995, Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Miniseries or a Special
  • 1995, Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1995, Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1995, Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1996, Won Cinema Audio Society Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Movie of the Week, Mini-Series or Special
  • 1996, Won Peabody Award
  • 1996, Won Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
  • 1996, Won Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series
  • 1996, Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series
  • 1996, Image Award nomination for Outstanding Television Movie or Mini-Series
  • 1996, Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bernadette McCallion Rovi. "The Piano Lesson (1995)". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "The Piano Lesson". TV Guide. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Bill Gibron (February 12, 2003). "review: The Piano Lesson". DVD Verdict. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 

External links[edit]