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Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

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During a rural picnic, a few students and a teacher from an Australian girls' school vanish without a trace. Their absence frustrates and haunts the people left behind.



(novel), (screenplay)
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Appleyard
Vivean Gray ...
Miss McCraw
Helen Morse ...
Mlle. de Poitiers
Kirsty Child ...
Miss Lumley
Tony Llewellyn-Jones ...
Tom (as Anthony Llewellyn-Jones)
Frank Gunnell ...
Mr. Whitehead
Anne-Louise Lambert ...
Miranda (as Anne Lambert)
Christine Schuler ...
Margaret Nelson ...
Ingrid Mason ...
Janet Murray ...


Three students and a school teacher disappear on an excursion to Hanging Rock, in Victoria, on Valentine's Day, 1900. Widely (and incorrectly) regarded as being based on a true story, the movie follows those that disappeared, and those that stayed behind, but it delights in the asking of questions, not the answering of them. Written by David Carroll <davidc@atom.ansto.gov.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rock | student | school | girl | teacher | See All (267) »


On St. Valentine's Day in 1900 a party of schoolgirls set out to picnic at Hanging Rock. ...Some were never to return. See more »


Drama | Mystery


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

2 February 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El enigma en las Rocas Colgantes  »

Box Office


AUD 440,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$27,492 (USA) (26 June 1998)


$84,744 (USA) (3 July 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (1998 director's cut)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The role of Mrs. Appleyard was originally taken by Vivien Merchant. While traveling to Australia, Merchant became ill in Hong Kong, and Rachel Roberts took over the role at a few days notice. See more »


Modern foundation garments are seen quite clearly through the girls white shirts in many places when the camera trails behind them as the move about the rock. See more »


[first lines]
Miranda: What we see and what we seem are but a dream, a dream within a dream.
See more »


Referenced in The Virgin Suicides (1999) See more »


Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 2nd Movement
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

the unspeakable takes control

This is mesmerizing film with a cipher at its center. Less is more. I am amused at some of the comments. There seem to be two types: those which depict the movie as "beautiful, ethereal and subtle" and those which depict the film as "too symbolic, too slow, boring, too 70's."

The point is, there is no point. The central vision of the film is enigma, the void, mystery. This seems to make a lot of explainers uncomfortable, but the use of emptiness at the core of a work of art is nothing new. "The hand that erases writes the true thing" Faulkner's masterpiece "The Sound and the Fury" is about a character who is absent. The characters that surround her, and who actually people the novel? Not all there, lacking, disintegrating, unknown, unwanted, unloved.

If there must be a meaning, it is that nothingness is the biggest threat of all. "I will show you fear in a handful of dust" We fear our disappearance. We'd like to believe that our little lives, our little comments, our little film lists will endure forever. But they won't. Nothing will.

what is existence? a random ever-changing collection of energized particles.

At any point, we can cross the line into nothingness. Nature will subsume us.

The film "A Passage to India" had the same theme. It was NOT essentially a movie about rape or sex scandal. It was about the yawning pitch-black eternal emptiness of the caves. It drove two women mad. Nature as an amoral uncaring unmoveable eternal reality.

Just as Picnic was NOT about repressed Victorian sexuality. These were pretexts, and were utilized because the fear of sex is the fear of letting go. The fear of sexuality leads irrestibly to our main fear: that darkness, emptiness, and the powers of nature will overwhelm us and erase us.

In Picnic, there was no villain, no enemy, no fall guy, no perpetrator, process or predicament that we could blame for the girls' disappearance. They simply disappeared. And that is the scariest nightmare of all.

188 of 230 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Mrs. Appleyard jctennant55-892-30458
How do some consider this a horror movie??? Fellini_Fiend87
Other eerie, haunting, patient, atmospheric films like this one? StrawDogBreeder
Could 'The Secret of Hanging Rock' Be Filmed? Should it be? ConDeuce
Clear metaphor of discovering male/female sexuality Clayman82
Homoeroticism liamstepho
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