Picnic at Hanging RockDirector: Peter Weir
Peter Weir's haunting and evocative mystery is set in the Australia of 1900, a mystical place where the British have attempted to impose their Christian culture with such tweedy refinements as a girls' boarding school. After gauzily-photographed, nicely underplayed scenes of the girls' budding sexuality being restrained in Victorian corsets, the uptight headmistress… See more details below
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Peter Weir's haunting and evocative mystery is set in the Australia of 1900, a mystical place where the British have attempted to impose their Christian culture with such tweedy refinements as a girls' boarding school. After gauzily-photographed, nicely underplayed scenes of the girls' budding sexuality being restrained in Victorian corsets, the uptight headmistress (Rachel Roberts) takes them on a Valentine's Day picnic into the countryside, and several of the girls, led by the lovely Miranda (Anne Lambert) decide to explore a nearby volcanic rock formation. It's a desolate, primitive, vaguely menacing place, where one can almost feel the presence of ancient pagan spirits. Something -- and there is an unspoken but palpable emphasis on the inherent carnality of the place -- draws four of the girls to explore the rock. Three never return. No one ever finds out why. The repercussions for the school are tragic, and of course Roberts reacts with near-crazed anger, but what really happened? Weir gives enough clues to suggest any number of explanations, both physical and supernatural.
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Cast & Crew
|Rachel Roberts||Mrs. Appleyard|
|Dominic Guard||Michael Fitzhubert|
|Vivean Gray||Miss Greta McGraw|
|Helen Morse||Diane de Poitiers|
|Kirsty Child||Dora Lumley|
|Christine Schuler||Edith Horton|
|Wyn Roberts||Sgt. Bumpher|
|Frank Gunnell||Edward Whitehead|
|Margaret Nelson||Sara Wayboume|
|Kay Taylor||Mrs. Bumpher|
|Garry McDonald||Constable Jones|
|Martin Vaughan||Ben Hussey|
|Peter Collingwood||Colonel Fitzhubert|
|Olga Dickie||Mrs. Fitzhubert|
|John Jarratt||Albert Crundall|
|David Copping||Art Director|
|Judith Dorsman||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Patricia Lovell||Executive Producer|
|John Seale||Camera Operator|
|Bruce Smeaton||Score Composer|
1. St. Valentine's Day, 1900
2. A Million Years
3. "An Ode to St. Valentine"
4. Botticelli Angel
5. The Right Time and Place
7. The Details
8. Back to the Rock
9. Staying Behind
10. "No One Else?"
11. From Bad to Worse
12. Other Arrangements
14. Irma's Farewell
1. Color Bars
David Thomson Introduction
Play the Movie
Disc #2 -- Picnic at Hanging Rock
Everything Begins and Ends
A Recollection... Hanging Rock 1900
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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It's Valentine's Day, 1900, at a typical Victorian school for girls. All (with the exception of the scientifically-minded Marian) are enraptured in the idea of St. Valentine, complete with handmade and store-bought cards with verses romantically read aloud. Even normally whiny Edith counts the number of cards received, laid out on her bed like the setup for a game of solitaire. There's a special breakfast, and another special treat: a picnic to a local park, with enough goodies for lunch and early tea! (Except for "charity pupil" Sara Waybourne, who's apparently banned from going because she doesn't "get" the headmistress's favorite poetry.) And, of course, they're going to have to write a geography theme on the place; can't have too much fun, you know. The rest of the flock, dressed in white and distinguished only by the style of their frocks, are loaded onto a covered carriage with the chaperons, sympathetic French teacher Mlle. de Poitiers and dry, reserved math/science teacher Miss McCraw (who begins to come to life as they approach the park with an emotionally charged description of the prehistoric origins of one particular rock formation in the park.), barrel through the dusty local town, and ride through some very un-Victorian wilderness. For this is Australia, and what happens on this fateful Sunday is a ripple in a pond that gradually becomes a tidal wave as consequences spread far and wide: four of the girls -- ethereal, enigmatic Miranda, with a strange premonition (telling roommate Sara she must begin to make other friends); the aforementioned Marion; Irma, a somewhat frivolous brunette in a multiflounced dress; and unwanted tagalong Edith -- get permission from Mlle. to go to the rock formation mentioned earlier, the prehistoric Hanging Rock. They are observed by Michael, picnicking there with his aunt and uncle. A few minutes later, Miss McCraw abruptly decides to follow them. Edith later returns, screaming that her classmates and teacher have gone up the rock and not come down. Multiple searches of the area prove futile, yet a few weeks later, Irma is found (in an area that had already been thoroughly searched), with a few scratches -- and no memory of her missing time. Parents begin pulling girls out of the school. At least one staff member gives notice. The headmistress slowly goes insane. By no means are these spoilers. Each detail of this synopsis has multiple layers and multiple questions. At the park, two watches lose time. Why? Back at the school, one student meets a horrible end. Suicide or murder? Irma's reappearance in particular brings more questions than answers, especially in one shocking scene at the school. An unexpected connection emerges between two separate characters. Miranda in particular felt "called" to go to the Rock. Is the Aboriginal idea of the Dreamtime coming into play here? Or is it something else altogether? Australia vs. the Victorian Era. Realities collide.
THIS WAS PRETTY GOOD, A LITTLE WEIRD AND STRANGE, BUT WORTH IT.
This film is for fans of spooky films such as the original Haunting. (Not the remake) For many, the film will be slow to take an interest in, but the faithful watcher will be rewarded by an experience that will give you goosebumps even weeks after watching the film.
PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK IS ONE OF TWO MOVIES I CHOOSE TO OWN. THE STORY SEEMS SIMPLE ENOUGH AT THE START ... A GROUP OF GIRLS FROM A FINANCIALLY STRAPPED PRIVATE SCHOOL GO ON A PICNIC TO HANGING ROCK. AS I SAID IT SEEMS SIMPLE AT THE START ... THEN, SLOWLY AND SEDUCTIVELY THE REAL STORY BEGINS TO UNFOLD EXPOSING EXPLOSIVE SEXUAL OVERTONES AMONG THE GIRLS AND THEIR CHAPERONES; THE GIRLS SEEM TO ENTER A NETHERWORLD OF SUPERNATURAL OR AT THE LEAST MSYTERIOUS EVENTS. VIEWERS ARE DRAWN INTO THE MORASS, IF THAT IS WHAT IT IS, AND ARE ASKED TO THINK! THE CHALLENGE FROM A MOVIE OF SUCH BEAUTY, OF SUCH IMPRESSIONISTIC IMAGES, AND SUCH SUBLTIES MUST TRANSCEND THE MUNDANE TO KEEP ONE AT THE EDGE OF HER SEAT WANTING TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE GIRLS, THE SCHOOL, THE TEACHERS, AND WHY HANGING ROCK IS CALLED BY THAT NAME. FILM LOVERS WHO ENJOY ART FILMS THAT CROSS INTO THE POPULAR CULTURE WILL FIND THIS AN ''EXPERIENCE'' WHICH TO THIS FILM BUFF IS WHAT GOING TO THE MOVIES IS ALL ABOUT. ENJOY!
As much as I love the book/movie, I can't recommend it to everyone because the movie is too unusual as a whole to be excepted by just anybody. You have to really enjoy a challenge to like this movie. What I like about it so much is that the clues do not add up and seem to have no connection. It's not just the mystery that intrigues me. It's the way the story seems to be more about how the once seemingly happygolucky community is turned upside down by the disappearances of the 3 girls and how certain individuals themselves try to deal. (Sara, Micheal, Ms. Appleyard, etc.) As I said, this movie is not for everyone but for those who like leaving their seats with more questions than answers, this movie's for you.
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