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Twenty years after it swept Australia into the international film spotlight, Peter Weir's stunning 1975 masterpiece remains as ineffable as the unanswerable mystery at its core. A Valentine's Day picnic at an ancient volcanic outcropping turns to disaster for the residents of Mrs. Appleyard's school when a few young girls inexplicably vanish on Hanging Rock. A lyrical, meditative film charged with suppressed longings, Picnic at Hanging Rock is at long last available in a pristine widescreen director's cut with a newly-minted Dolby® digital 5.1 channel soundtrack.
Situated somewhere between supernatural horror and lush Victorian melodrama, director Peter Weir's lyrical, enigmatic masterpiece is an imaginative tease. The setting is a proper turn-of-the century Australian boarding school for girls, a suffocating institution built on strict moral codes, repressed sexuality, and a subtle but enforced class structure. As the film opens, girls draped in immaculate white dress prepare for a picnic at the nearby volcanic formation, Hanging Rock, and Weir hangs an air of dark foreboding over the proceeding. "You'll have to love someone else, because I won't be here very long," says one virginal girl, Miranda, to her friend. Her words are prophetic: during the picnic, Miranda, along with two other girls and an uptight schoolmistress, vanish into the rocks. While a search party repeatedly returns to the rock to look for either the girls or the reasons for their disappearance, Weir leaves the mystery unsolved. Like Antonioni's L'Avventura, the vanishing is open to numerous interpretations--both rational and illusory--but Weir drops enough allegorical clues that it feels like a parable. He transforms the landscape and weather into menacing and eerie images; outlines of faces can be seen in the rocks, while the oppressive heat beating down on the picnic doubles as an atmospheric metaphor for the girls' unbearable social and sexual confinement. These images and other plot twists toward the end hint that this mysterious vanishing, on some level, was actually a form of spiritual escape--the only out, other than death, from the film's bleak, tightly structured community. Regardless of how you see it, though, this hypnotic puzzle remains the highlight of the '70s Australian New Wave. The DVD version presents the film in letterbox form. --Dave McCoy
Let me start by saying I was intrigued by this movie for some time before actually seeing it. After watching, I'm thankful I bought it on sale. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Mosef
How foolish can human creatures be?
Picnic at Hanging Rock. 1975. Directed by Peter Weir.
Based on the book of the same name. Read more
So watchable. A fascinating, brilliantly made movie from Australia's 1960s-70s birth of movies. Mysterious and gripping.Published 5 months ago by MARILYN G. DERIGHT
I really enjoyed this movie the casting, script and music worked wonderfully with the Australian Wilderness to create a truly atmospheric piece. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Cathy McManus
understandably a dated movie and it shows what Ayers Rock is really like, but the story line and the acting are very old fashioned.Published 6 months ago by michael McConihe
The acting was good, and the fallout that the disappearance of the girls caused, was interesting. But there was no explanation. Read morePublished 6 months ago by germaine
Peter Weir has made many arresting movies, but this early one (1975), the story of the mysterious disappearance of three girls and a teacher during a school picnic in the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Stanley Crowe
Fascinating story of a group of girls on a day trip to Hanging Rock in Australia. Strange things happen, and some of the girls get lost and some disappear never to be seen again. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Sandra Angell