Picnic at Hanging Rock

{4/5} “People don’t sit on cold steps in the dark unless they’re weak in the head.”

It’s 1900 in Australia — on Valentine’s Day students from an all-girls school go for a day trip to a place called Hanging Rock. Four of them don’t come back — three students and one teacher. No one knows what happened to them — they just went missing. A search party turns up nothing. A young man whose family was having tea nearby saw the girls that day — he goes back to the Rock to search too.

Picnic at Hanging Rock was released in 1975. Some people thought that the story was true but it’s not — it was made up by Joan Lindsay for her novel of the same name.

The disappearance of the girls has a great effect on everyone at the school. Some parents decide that their children will not be going back to the school next semester.

Don’t expect a lot of action — or a lot of answers. It’s a slow-paced, mysterious movie with lots of beautiful scenery. I knew it was going to be mysterious so I wasn’t too upset by the lack of answers. The movie shows that one event can have far reaching consequences. And it shows you a bit about what life was like for various types of people in 1900.

If you want the original author’s answer to the main question — what happened to the missing girls — it is available. In 1987 — 20 years after the original novel was published and three years after Lindsay’s death — a final chapter was published that reveals what happened. This chapter was published on its own as The Secret of Hanging Rock.

There is some original music by Bruce Smeaton (Roxanne) and some traditional Romanian pan flute music, played by Gheorghe Zamfir. Much of the music is by Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.

Anne-Louise Lambert (The Draughtsman’s Contract) plays Miranda, Jane Vallis (the TV show The Lost Islands) plays Marion, and Karen Robson (she became a lawyer) plays Irma, the three girls who disappear. Christine Schuler (she studied theology) plays Edith, the girl who follows the other three partway up the Rock. And Margaret Nelson (the TV show The Lost Islands) plays Sara, an orphan who doesn’t get to go on the picnic.

Rachel Roberts (O Lucky Man!) plays Mrs. Appleyard, the head of the school. Vivean Gray (the TV show Neighbours) plays Miss McCraw, the teacher who disappears. Helen Morse (the TV miniseries A Town Like Alice) plays Mademoiselle de Poitiers and Kirsty Child (the TV show Caged Women) plays Miss Lumley.

Dominic Guard (Absolution) plays Michael, the young man who’s obsessed with finding the missing girls.

The movie was directed by Peter Weir (The Way Back).

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at 8:42 pm and is filed under Reviews of movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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