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The Piano Lesson (Hallmark Hall of Fame)
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Charles Dutton, as Boy Willie, Berniece's brother, endows his role with a humor and good-naturedness not obvious from a reading of the play, and his passion to use the money from the sale of the piano to buy a hundred acres of Sutter farmland, which his slave ancestors once worked, is palpable. Courtney B., as Boy Willie's friend Lymon, is credulous and innocent as he explores the city, responding to its differences from the life on the farm, and bringing Berniece (Alfre Woodard) out of the grief she has borne since the shooting death of her husband three years before. Woodard herself is a fierce Berniece, protective of her young daughter and determined to preserve the piano and its heritage.
Directed by Lloyd Richards for the Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1995, the screenplay was adapted by August Wilson from his own play. A bit shorter than the original, with offensive expletives omitted for television, the script remains close to the original.Read more ›
And if you are familiar with the works of August Wilson, you will recognize that to adher to the vernacular - spoken language of a region - is critical to the element of his works. In this DVD movie, the use of the N word was omitted and that omission is part of history.
African American playwright, August Wilson was born in 1945 and has received numerous, that include Pulitzer Prize honors, "Fences" in 1987; and "The Piano Lesson" in 1990. Each of his works chronicle a decade in black experience. The Piano Lesson takes place in the depression era, the 30's.
The story revolves around an old carved upright piano that is symbolic with rich family history that dates back to trading slaves. The carvings are stunning and each scene depicts a story filled with vivid description. The plot includes supernatural elements.
Actor Charles Dutton has performed as other characters in Wilson's plays and here he plays Boy Willie. With dreams of owning land like his ancestors, his plan involves selling a piano that belongs to him and his sister Berniece, played by the well-known Alfre Woodard. However, the piano, an heirloom, is a representation of the past and she refuses to sell it. The carvings were done by her grandfather, an enslaved plantation carpenter.
The movie version of the Piano Lesson was done quite well with some stunning performances by seasoned actors.Read more ›
The TV production also "opens" the play from its original setting in Doaker's living room and kitchen and adds a silent, visual accompaniment to Doaker's marvelous tale about the family piano.
Do these changes damage the play? No, but they certainly do alter its flavor.
On one hand, I'm very happy that this great Black American playwright allowed one of his scripts to have a TV production and that we now have this video record of that production. On the other hand, it seems a shame that Wilson had to compromise his artistry in order to reach a wider audience than theatre itself can supply.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the jewels in the crown that is so very deserved by August WilsonPublished 5 months ago by Alice V. Lilly
Great writing, great directing, great acting, what more can I say? Love August Wilson! Wish he were still around. The man was poetic.Published 16 months ago by wayne
Sooo grateful you had this DVD! It came in pristine condition. Great to see this wonderful play with these genius actors! Thank you!Published 16 months ago by Kiko
I love this Hallmark movie! Perfect, hadn't seen this on TV in years!Published 17 months ago by Delia Wiggins
An excellent movie, and I was an Extra in this movie as well, in the theatre scenes.Published 17 months ago by koko63