Three students and a school teacher disappear on an excursion to Hanging Rock, in Victoria, on Valentine's Day, 1900. The movie follows those that disappeared, and those that stayed behind, but it delights in the asking of questions, not the answering of them. Even though both the movie and the book it was based on claim to be inspired by real events, the story is completely fictional.Written by
David Carroll <email@example.com>
While filming on location at Hanging Rock, actress Anne-Louise Lambert (Miranda) had a most surreal encounter. During a break from shooting Lambert went for a walk through the woods. She turned to see Joan Lindsay, author of the novel Picnic at Hanging Rock, stumbling toward her. Lambert said Lindsay then embraced her with strong, joyful emotion and called her Miranda. It was a powerful moment for both of them. See more »
As the drag pulls out of Woodend, power poles are seen to the left of the screen, also, a television antenna is also seen on the roof of a house in the same scene. See more »
What we see and what we seem are but a dream, a dream within a dream.
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The director's cut deletes several scenes from the original release version:
Irma thanking Albert for finding her and Michael's growing relationship with Irma, climaxing in his demanding to know what happened at the Rock.
a brief sequence inside the church during the memorial service of the girls crying.
Mrs Appleyard removing some of Sarah's belongings at night after her disappearance. There are two very minor additions:
A brief sequence of a photographer getting a picture of the school before being shooed off.
A smoother introduction to the scene where Albert tells Michael of his dream of Sarah, beginning with Michael telling him how he often dreams of the Rock.
I first saw PAHR while in high school, and it was the beginning of a long and drawn-out love affair with the film. The look, feel and sound of it drew me in at once, and the open-endedness of it appealed to my romantic teenage notions, striking me as being terribly, terribly profound. I searched out the book, and the sequel (both out of print in the US) and had a good long obsession over the film.
Years later, I still appreciate it deeply, but I realize now that if I were to see it for the first time today, I might not be quite so entranced. Yes, it is moody and beautiful, full of deliciously gossamar images, beautiful actresses, a haunting soundtrack, and a hypnotically slow and deliberate pace... but I can now see that it is a very youthful effort on Wier's part. It is decidedly a young director's film, firmly mired in the style of its era (the 70s). The heavy-handedness of the direction is evident in many ways, mostly in the repeated metaphors of Miranda as a swan, an angel, etc.... It has anachronistic costumes, makeup and hair, although the sets design is attractive and accurate enough.
However, let it be noted that the film is far more about symbolism and atmosphere than anything else, and on that front, it succeeds admirably. Among the highlights:
The repressed Victorian schoolgirls, whose burgeoning sexual longings are channeled into torrid, purple verse and close romantic friendships
The famous corset-lacing scenelet
The implied relationship between Mrs. Appleyard and the "masculine" Miss McCraw
The disappearance of only the "pure": Miranda (love), Marion (science), Miss McCraw (math), and the rock's rejecting Edith (gluttony), Irma (worldliness), and all men.
One might go on about the sexual imagery of the rock itself, with its monoliths and chasms, but I will refrain. Because after you've seen the movie, you realize how many times these things have been hammered into your head.
I still love this film dearly, despite the obviousness of it all. I wish that a soundtrack were available, as the original music is lovely. If you know a teenager, or are one, this is the movie for you. May your love affair with it go on as long as mine.
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