Picnic at Hanging Rock
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.