Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock

4.5 10
Director: Peter Weir

Cast: Peter Weir, Rachel Roberts, Dominic Guard, Vivean Gray

     
 

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Peter Weir's creepy, beautifully photographed movie is a mysteriously ambiguous study of repression and nature. As with any movie ripe with symbolism, the cinematography and sound presentation give insight and/or clues into the goings-on of the plot; this requires the DVD to faithfully translate Russell Boyd's dusty, yet lush photography and Gheorghe Zamfir's haunting… See more details below

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Overview

Peter Weir's creepy, beautifully photographed movie is a mysteriously ambiguous study of repression and nature. As with any movie ripe with symbolism, the cinematography and sound presentation give insight and/or clues into the goings-on of the plot; this requires the DVD to faithfully translate Russell Boyd's dusty, yet lush photography and Gheorghe Zamfir's haunting, pan flute interpretations of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven compositions. On both counts, the DVD wins. Whether Weir is focusing on a slice of cake covered with ants, the haunted image of a girl's face reflected in a mirror, or Hanging Rock obscured by misty fog, the Criterion DVD is a marvel to behold. The 1.66:1 aspect ratio of this director's cut of the movie is entirely respectful of the artistry that went into the film's production. The dominant earth tones, while not photo realistic, immerse the viewer in the mysteries of Mother Nature. The Dolby Digital soundtrack, full of strange and beautiful sound effects of unknown origin, consistently stuns. The "Chapters" menu allows instant access to the DVD's 33 chapters. The theatrical trailer, not of the same quality artistically or technically as the movie, isn't worth a second look; it's also not to be viewed before the movie, since it gives away far too many plot points. Film critic Vincent Canby's liner notes are the rare sort that actually provide insight into the movie. Picnic at Hanging Rock is as haunting and mesmerizing as ever on this first-rate, Criterion Collection DVD.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
A drowsy numbness envelops Peter Weir's gorgeous Picnic at Hanging Rock, an atmospheric mystery unlike any other film ever made. Set in Australia in 1900, the story is about the strange disappearance of three schoolgirls (Anne-Louise Lambert, Karen Robson, and Jane Vallis) and a teacher (Vivean Gray) during an afternoon outing in the country after exchanging valentines. While the school's stern headmistress (Rachel Roberts) tries to cope with the bad publicity, the search for the girls' whereabouts only makes their absence more enigmatic, part of an almost archetypal confrontation between civilization and the impenetrable secrets of nature. Against a backdrop of Victorian repression, Weir creates a remarkable aura with a nonstop volley of alluring femininity: the girls wear lacy dresses, white gloves, and straw hats; they sing, read poetry, and press flowers; one is even compared to a Botticelli angel. And the soundtrack is lush throughout, mixing Bach and Beethoven with the exotic sounds of pan-flute master Gheorghe Zamfir. The result is a film of hypnotic beauty and frightening mystery, capped off by a scene where the fateful picnic appears as if through a dreamy haze, an idyllic slow-motion tableau that is simply unforgettable.
All Movie Guide
The first significant splash made by the Australian New Wave on world cinema, Picnic at Hanging Rock is director Peter Weir's haunting, delicate, and exquisitely photographed tale of three young girls who disappear during a school outing in the year 1900. It hints at what is to come in films like Weir's truly shattering The Last Wave and in coming-of-age films such as Gillian Armstrong's My Brilliant Career - a new look at an exotic country's early days and unique history. Weir was a foremost force in the rebirth of Australian cinema, using period pieces such as this one, combined with heavy atmospherics and a fresh take on colonialism, to promote a kind of mystical super-realism that is evident in most of his films and those of Australian directors who followed him. Weir's refusal to provide a satisfying end to his puzzle of a story is also emblematic of a fresh approach that strays from a rationalized Western viewpoint into more supernatural realms that are linked to the aboriginal culture of the continent.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/03/1998
UPC:
0037429126325
Original Release:
1975
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, stereo]
Time:
1:47:00

Special Features

The long awaited director's cut of the film, with a new widescreen transfer and a new 5.1 Surround mix; The original theatrical trailer; Liner notes by Vincent Canby; Subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rachel Roberts Mrs. Appleyard
Dominic Guard Michael Fitzhubert
Vivean Gray Miss Greta McGraw
Helen Morse Diane de Poitiers
Kirsty Child Dora Lumley
Jacki Weaver Minnie
Karen Robson Irma
Christine Schuler Edith Horton
Jenny Lovell Actor
Janet Murray Actor
Bridgette Phillips Actor
John Fegan Actor
Anne-Louise Lambert Miranda
Wyn Roberts Sgt. Bumpher
Tony Llewellyn-Jones Tom
Frank Gunnell Edward Whitehead
Jane Vallis Marion
Margaret Nelson Sara Wayboume
Ingrid Mason Rosamund
Barbara Lloyd Pupil
Kay Taylor Mrs. Bumpher
Garry McDonald Constable Jones
Martin Vaughan Ben Hussey
Peter Collingwood Colonel Fitzhubert
Olga Dickie Mrs. Fitzhubert
John Jarratt Albert Crundall

Technical Credits
Peter Weir Director
Russell Boyd Cinematographer
David Copping Art Director
Judith Dorsman Costumes/Costume Designer
Clifford Green Screenwriter
Max Lemon Editor
Patricia Lovell Executive Producer
Hal McElroy Producer
Jim McElroy Producer
John Seale Camera Operator
Bruce Smeaton Score Composer

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Scene Index

Chapters
0. Chapters
1. Logos/Opening credits [5:06]
2. Appleyard College, St. Valentine's Day 1900 [2:10]
3. No tomboy foolishness [2:14]
4. "Waiting a million years-just for us" [2:58]
5. Michael and Albert [2:38]
6. Broken heart [3:06]
7. "We shall only be gone a little while" [6:10]
8. The ugly old Rock [2:50]
9. Sara and the deer [4:11]
10. ."..the Right Time And Place" [3:33]
11. Something terrible [4:51]
12. "Quite intact" [2:37]
13. Miss McCraw, sans skirt [3:40]
14. The bloodhound [1:50]
15. Cold sweats [5:23]
16. Search party [2:20]
17. "I'm staying here" [2:10]
18. Paper trail [3:45]
19. Dirty lace [4:36]
20. News of Irma [1:48]
21. Only one [3:00]
22. Torn fingernails, no corset [3:04]
23. Plants that can move [1:55]
24. The lady circus rider [4:07]
25. "I feel sorry for them kids" [3:30]
26. "I remember...nothing" [2:45]
27. "She likes daisies best of all" [2:32]
28. "Tell us, Irma!" [2:34]
29. Giving notice [4:26]
30. The smell of pansies [2:53]
31. "Au revoir" [3:06]
32. Memento mori [3:23]
33. Closing credits [1:40]

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