Lumiere Award Day!

Jane Campion, body and soul



Jane Campion films women's bodies, not with self-consciousness or fetishized fascination, but with simplicity and precision, extoling the freedom of her heroines.


The skin

Campion's skin is an avenue to filming love and sex, fluid and elastic, like the make-out scene in a car park or under a car in Sweetie (1989), the poetry of reality intertwined with the imagination of lovers that makes bodies supple. It is the male lead (Harvey Keitel) of The Piano (1993), who manipulates Ada-Holly Hunter's naked and pallid body like a physiotherapist, to earn her trust, by bringing her knees towards him with one arm, very gently. It is also expressed by the pale complexion of An Angel at My Table’s Janet-Kerry Fox, who does not have a ‘model figure’, and bathes in front of her lover. Like a painting.



Un-Ange-à-ma-tableAn angel at my table, 1990

The half-open mouth

Symbolising the desire of young women who question themselves with their lips slightly parted, Frannie-Meg Ryan in In the Cut (2003) and Isabel-Nicole Kidman in The Portrait of a Lady (1996), throw themselves into the world. They are adventurous. They want to live.


Legs stretched out

Campion's cinema loves legs! The director films them a lot, but in her own way. They are often stretched out, in a bed to translate the female psyche, those of women always between desire and hope. They are the legs and feet joined on the bed in An Angel at my Table (1990), or the legs of Frannie in panties in a masturbation scene in In the Cut, an erotic thriller



IN-THE-CUTIn the Cut, 2003

The cheek

The cheek speaks for Campion. It is pigmented with an emotional red when, in The Portrait of a Lady, Isabel, fully clothed, fantasises on a bed that all her suitors are kissing and caressing her. The cheek also calls out to the hand that comes to rest on it and seems to say to Campion's film heroines, "I see you". Fanny-Abbie Cornish, the young woman in Bright Star (2009) and Frannie in In the Cut, experience it as a relief, an antidote.



For a filmmaker for whom everything is natural, so is peeing! Campion often films women peeing outdoors. A society lady in The Piano does it unexpectedly in the New Zealand bush, as does Sweetie-Genevieve Lemon in the backyard of her family's house, because she is a free spirit. But the most memorable portrayal is of Ruth-Kate Winslet's naked body in the desert in Holy Smoke (1999), moving forward as urine runs down her legs. With this shot, which caused a fuss at the time, Campion delivers a scene that is infinitely disturbing, between the importance of showing the extreme abandonment of which the spirit is capable through a body, and, at the same time, the strength that it takes for a person (here, a film character) to expose herself in this way.


The shoulders and throat

Jane Campion uses women's underwear to emphasise the beauty of the shoulders, both from the front and the back. Her characters are girls in underclothing and clingy tank tops, clothes of introspection. In An Angel at my Table, the fifteen-year-old heroine thinks about her future Lumiere Award Day!


Virginie Apiou


Categories: Lecture Zen