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 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

Overview

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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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:
06/17/2014
UPC:
0715515117111
Original Release:
1975
Rating:
PG
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1A
Time:
1:47:00
Sales rank:
18,797

Special Features

Remastered high-definition digital film transfer, supervised by director Peter Weir, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray; Extended interview with Weir; New piece on the making of the film, featuring interviews from 2003 with executive producer Patricia Lovell, producers Hal McElroy and Jim McElroy, and cast members; New introduction by film scholar David Thomson, author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film; A Recollection... Hanging Rock 1900 (1975), an on-set documentary hosted by Lovell and featuring interviews with Weir, actor Rachel Roberts, and source novel author Joan Lindsay; Homesdale (1971), an award-winning black comedy by Weir; Trailer; One Blu-ray and two DVDs, with all content available in both formats; PLUS: a booklet featuring an essay by author Megan Abbott and an excerpt from film scholar Marek Haltof's 1996 book Peter Weir: When Cultures Collide; a new paperback edition of Lindsay's novel, previously out of print in the U.S.

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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

Disc #1 -- Picnic at Hanging Rock
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
6. Missing
7. The Details
8. Back to the Rock
9. Staying Behind
10. "No One Else?"
11. From Bad to Worse
12. Other Arrangements
13. Secrets
14. Irma's Farewell
15. Pansies
1. Color Bars

Customer Reviews

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Picnic at Hanging Rock 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Redcatlady More than 1 year ago
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.
creeper More than 1 year ago
THIS WAS PRETTY GOOD, A LITTLE WEIRD AND STRANGE, BUT WORTH IT.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Stanley More than 1 year ago
During the Criterion sale I became a member of Barnes and Noble to get the additional 10% off and over the past two months I have been buying all kinds of stuff from them and have almost completely stopped buying from Amazon. B and N simply has better deals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!