Picnic at Hanging Rock (TV Mini-Series 2018) Poster

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2/10
The picnic is all but forgotten in this misguided project
derekjager22 May 2018
People may not be aware that the novel PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK is very short, just over 200 pages. It works ideally as a 2-hour film but to stretch it out into 6-hours results in a heavily padded and downright dull miniseries. In the first hour, the girls disappear and the filmmakers bungle this key scene. There's no set- up, no sense of dread, so the main focus of the entire project falls flat. And that's in the first hour! For the rest of the miniseries, the characters involved seem more concerned about the girl's school than Hanging Rock. We see the local community searching for the girls, but at the same time, backstories of pretty much every character are introduced. Episodes 3 and 4 add zero to the narrative and you can see the filmmakers are desperate to keep us engaged with some poorly staged jump scares: an animal nailed to the wall! A pile of maggots at one character's feet! But why? No explanation. This is a much harsher PICNIC than Peter Weir's classic film of 1975. At times, the miniseries comes across as LA RESIDENCIA (THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED), the 1970 shocker with Lili Palmer who stars as the headmistress of a nineteenth-century French boarding school for girls. Some girls are whipped, others are slapped...but it isn't until the 5th and 6th episodes that we're reminded girls went missing. Whatever happened to them? Parents come and remove their children from the school and there are more flashbacks and backstories. The women talk about being "free" but that's never explained either. The girls who vanish "take a vow"...to what end? Stretched to the breaking point to six hours, the miniseries tries to answer questions that are never asked and, worst of all, forgets that Hanging Rock is the center of the story, not the school house.
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2/10
wanted to love this, wound up loathing it
palewook200613 May 2018
See the 1975 film or read the book instead. The 2018 miniseries misses every opportunity to make something memorable or even mediocre. The 2018 miniseries ends up being a massive fail. Blame it entirely on the 3 directors. A convoluted mess that fails to grasp the source material. The miniseries borders on pretentious and fails to deliver any type of atmospheric thriller/horror you are expecting. This miniseries is ultimately - lifeless.
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4/10
What would Joan have said?!
ozjosh0320 June 2018
There's so much that's wrong with this new version of the Australian classic that it's hard to know where to start. First there's the direction - tricksy, flashy and sprinkled with "creative" flourishes more evocative of 80s music videos than Australia in 1900. It's uneven from episode to episode, unhelpful in establishing the kind of eerie, dreamy atmosphere that the story demands, and frequently just yanks us out of the period and out of the story. The performances are jarringly uneven too, ranging from naturalistic (though, unfortunately, in an anachronistic contemporary style) to fruity amateur-theatrical emoting, with highly questionable accents. The location for the girl's school is ludicrously lavish, a sprawling mansion replete with marble columns and ornate fixtures - an unlikely girl's school anywhere in Australia at any time, but utterly nonsensical in a remote rural area in 1900. And then there's the depiction of the bush and hanging rock itself - over-saturated hues that make everything seem green and lush, and even a shimmering lake. It looks more English than Australian, and absolutely nothing like the dry Macedon Ranges in which the story is set. The same lack of care extends to the dialogue and the depiction of social conventions of the time, with almost every exchange between "the gentry" and the lower orders being hilariously unlikely. If you watch this Picnic with the expectation of something eerie and other-worldly, you may well find it... and it's most likely the sound of poor Joan Lindsay turning in her grave.
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3/10
Why did they bother?
happy_hangman27 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Weir's adaptation of Joan Lindsay's novel worked superbly because of its contradictions and subtlety - genteel young society ladies in a finishing school on the untamed borders of the Australian Bush, guileless and innocent, their sexuality and sexualisation perceived variously through the contrasting filters of their bitter, repressed Headmistress and the barely co-ordinated adolescent infatuation of two young male onlookers. Nothing is resolved at the end of the tale, the cause of the girls disappearance is not explained, and though though atmosphere and symbolism hint at a possible supernatural causality , details are ambiguously rendered - the explanation may be mundane - but we will never know. Insinuation and suggestion create one of the most haunting mysteries in cinema precisely because of the lack of detail.

Given the unique appeal of the original novel and movie, one has to ask why Amazon bothered to adapt the story in such an unsubtle, bastardised form. the guileless girls are now worldly little madams, their sexuality more explicitly rendered, and everyone HAS to have a secret past.

Rachel Roberts was so effective as the monstrous Headmistress precisely because the reasons for her cruelty and bitterness were not explored: they are an incidental detail in a much larger drama. Here Natalie Dormer - a fine actress who deserves better - has hidden motives and a shady past which I fear will become a driving force in the narrative. And, of course, in keeping with the sledge-hammer subtlety of the show, she too is over-sexualised. Similarly Miranda, the 'Botticelli Angel' in the original is a cypher - all things to all people, and an idealised object of inexplicable fascination to all. Here the writers lazy spoon-feeding of salacious detail to keep audiences interested (because clearly we won't stay watching otherwise) shas her as a tomboy and a troublemaker, running off into the woods and pi***ing in a bowl to tick-off her prissy Bible Studies teacher, and the subject of an attempted rape...all within the first half hour.

I've heard arguments that these major conceptual changes are intended to give the key female characters emotional and psychological depth. Really? Then why is their interpretation so firmly hooked on their sexual representation? Lazy and cynical.

Unsubtle. Obvious. A shoddy and cynical appropriation of a classic story by people who clearly did not understand what made that story so enduring and effective.

That said, it is beautifully shot. Though the cinematography lacks the ethereal quality of the '70s movie, it all looks quite splendid. Pity about everything else.
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1/10
Stop.
con_au15 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This series extends both before and after where the book, and original film, goes. That's an interesting premise, but the execution is so ham-fisted that it starts to feel like a high-school production. The series makes no bones not being a remake of the film, but it does attempt to recreate the mystical atmosphere of the original. But the fuzzy focus and arty montages are a poor facsimile of the originals. The series gets more explicit with the burgeoning sexuality theme than the film, throwing in some same-sex references and what appears to be a home-made sex toy for affect. Extended fever-dream type sequences are so bad they're hard to watch. And the acting, particularly from Yael Stone and some of the girls is (unintentionally, sadly) hilarious. The story itself has merit, and I can see how the script seemed worth the effort. But the translation fails on almost every level. Natalie Dormer is acting her heart out as the headmistress with mysterious and salty past, but she's not enough to bring heart, or sense, to the show. Everyone else is chewing the scenery and looking like they wish it was over. I'm a fan of the book and the film and was very eager to be a fan of this show but it lacks any kind of subtlety - it reaches the red-line of high camp but without the irony or humour to make it 'good bad'. I'm so disappointed, mostly because in future years when people mention Picnic at Hanging Rock it's possible this wreck of an effort will be what comes to mind instead of Peter Weir's delicate and deft film.
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10/10
Disregard bad reviews
ortegmia16 June 2018
So glad I decided to watch this. Intriguing, wonderful character development, like peeling back layers of an onion only to find more layers. The cinematography adds to the mystique that surrounds the plot as well as as. The camera angles, distorted pull backs enhance the strange feelings we get when we ask the question of ourselves, do we truly know someone or understand a situation, or is this all a dream?
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3/10
Disappointing
glenn-386-8889057 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
If you grab a coffee or even blink for a moment, chances are you'll probably miss the story line. I watched it until the end and most of the time I was wondering what the hell was going on. The ending explains what happened, I'm just not too sure if they needed everything else in between.

I'm not a film student, but in almost every new scene the camera would do this tilt shot thing (not sure on the technical name) and it became annoying.

The music took any suspense away from the story. If I had to stop being negative, I'd comment on the strong acting by almost every female cast member. For whatever reason the male acting wasn't great.
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2/10
Insult to the original.
kellykevin-3624921 June 2018
After hearing all the hype about the series made from the novel, I have to say I have been left feeling ripped off & very very disappointed. After growing up watching & loving the original film of the same title & the incredibly haunting music score that went with it, I am lost for words at how this remake could go so wrong. The acting is terrible & the psychedelic filming of some of the scenes & the 'music' if you can call it that, is a joke. I thought seeing as there are 6 episodes that it would at least give some background of all the inhabitants at the school & why they are there leading up to the finale where the girls go missing but nope, afraid not.. I struggled to get through even the first episode, I cannot imagine how I will tolerate the next 5. I found it lacking, boring & trying way to hard to be something it isn't & compared to the original film will not bother watching more than a few episodes & will instead go back & enjoy the mystery & haunting original film. The costumes, scenes & landscape are so beautiful but everything else is a total let down.
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could not watch...
smoke025 May 2018
...not because the series was bad, although what I did see was incredibly bad, but because I could not get past the 1990's New Age soundtrack. Not only did it sound more like dinner music played in an desperately upscale restaurant, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the story and was intrusive enough to take me right out of the show and start wondering what Kitaro is doing these days.
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1/10
Don't waste your time, just watch the film (or read the book)
snen12 May 2018
They basically ruin all the mystery and atmosphere of the original works. Any good-looking shot is lifted directly from the film, and the rest looks terrible. They even included elements of the infamous deleted last chapter, which was removed from the original publication for good reason. All of the homoerotic and class-based undertones existed in the original work, they just tried to rev it up for the current era, but it makes it corny. Don't bother watching this.
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7/10
It's not all bad
HypnoticPoison79 June 2018
My only real qualms with this were the ending (which I can blame the original author for, rather than the series writers), the weird decision to make many of the characters bisexual, and the excessive dreamy scenes others mentioned with birds or blurry imagery meant to take up extra time. Aboriginal descendants were in the film (though that may not be historically accurate) and brought up frequently enough in regards to Hanging Rock that I thought they did a decent enough job to avoid complaints about that.

Other than that, without having seen the original version or reading the novel, I can say that this is a show worth watching, and I didn't regret it. I really liked nearly all of the female central characters, and thought they did superb acting jobs. I also thought the character development was pretty good, although it could have been a little better in regards to Sara, whose character was one of the best.

I really liked the theme of the show in regards to true freedom, and the idea that some birds just weren't meant to be caged.

On a side note, it's sad but interesting that Amazon won't allow anyone to review the show on their website as of 6/9/2018 due to negative reviews. What a shame.
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1/10
If Only ...
francesi-192-39704623 May 2018
The book was tedious, the Peter Weir film a classic that saved it & now this ...

I watched the first episode & apart from finding it very difficult to follow, I was left with a feeling of something being not quite right.

After a while I figured out what it was. This series has a disturbingly racist undertone. What, I asked myself, was an Aboriginal girl doing as a pupil in an exclusive girl's boarding school in early 20th Century Australia? In reality, her presence as a pupil at that time & in that place would never have happened. So, exactly what are the makers of this television series, set in an historical time for which we have plenty of documentation, attempting to achieve by shoehorning an Indigenous character into a position they would never have held? Are they attempting to re-write Australian history by making it as they wished it to be? Are they just plain ignorant & for some reason unable to read a book or consult with an Aboriginal historian to obtain a factual & much more interesting storyline? Probably "yes" to both questions.

My sense of disquiet arises from this cak-handed attempt to be "inclusive", which in actuality, is racist to its core. By dumping an Indigenous character into a completely unlikely situation (i.e. the daughter of the Anglo-European elite of the British Colonies in Australia) these unimaginative pen-pushers have effectively negated the dire effects of colonisation on the Aboriginal inhabitants of this continent. They have, in a few thoughtless & blithe sentences, written out of history all the pain, the dispossession, the disease, the rape, the gargantuan effort to survive under Colonial rule, encountered by our original inhabitants. I am genuinely disgusted. I would recommend that any of the writers / producers familiarize themselves with the notion of "presentism" prior to taking up their keyboards again & tapping out another "historical" script.
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10/10
'Picnic At Hanging Rock' is a triumph for Australian television
Based on Joan Lindsay's 1967 novel and adapted into Peter Weir's masterpiece of cinema in 1975, this 2018 television adaptation of 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' is certainly not trying to replicate Weir's film because it is it's own thing and that is what makes it so special. It's rich in colour, dark, twisted, complex and inviting. It opens up the things left unopened in Lindsay's novel, the things found only when read between the lines. It provides a new perspective on an already well-known story which makes this adaptation so engaging and refreshing and gets better every episode! The performances are exceptional, the direction is sublime, the writing is incredibly witty and the cinematography is beautiful, as it is haunting and disorientating, which only adds to the uncertainty of the overarching mystery.

In an age where the Australian screen industry is struggling to stay alive, Foxtel's 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' stands as proof of the talent we have in Australia and the rich stories we have and should be telling worldwide. 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' is certainly not a remake of Weir's 1975 classic, but rather, a look at Lindsay's classic story from a new perspective, for a new audience. 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' is nothing but a triumph for Australian television. Bravo!
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10/10
Sucked me in
hannah-underwood12 June 2018
Really enjoyed this mini tv series. It is one of those series that left me wondering what's going to happen next and I had to keep watching!! Watched the whole mini series in one day because of this.. Natalie's performance was spectacular. Loving that it was filmed in aus also. Definitely recommend watching
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1/10
Just wrong!
gwood-217923 June 2018
I watched the whole six hours because the 1975 film is one of my favorites. How I wish I could get those six hours back. The 1975 film is eerie - this miniseries is jug dull. It is certainly possible to do a film remake and have the second be better than the first - just look at "3:10 to Yuma" (1957 and 2007) and you'll see what I mean.

Casting? Mrs. Appleyard is too malevolent and Miranda is hardly a "Botticelli angel". I won't deny that a credible remake could be done - this just isn't it.
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8/10
Pleasingly Bold Style Choices
Liberty-AstonMartin29 May 2018
The story line, to me, was a bit lacking. However, I loved the stylistic cinematography and the music. They suited the production well. Visually -- it really drew me in. Some scenes felt a little over-acted, but overall I was pleased with spending 6hrs on this, but I can't see myself wanting to watch it a second time.
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2/10
Bum notes from the Get Go
nephihaha12 July 2018
A lot of misjudged decisions in this version. Even the opening shot seems to be inappropriate here, along with other factors. I always saw Picnic as representing Colonial/Frontier life in contrast to the Bush, and sexuality which is supposed to be repressed/sublimated in the original is far too much on the surface here. There are some serious casting errors in this series, and there are also cack-handed attempts to bring in modern day style and to try and make it cool.

This series owes more to Peaker Blinders and the recent TV version of Psycho - Bates Motel.

A shame really since a lot of money has been ploughed into this series, but it falls flat on its face in so many areas from writing to acting ro costumes to music.
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4/10
Hard to Follow, Muddled Screen Play
baumann_matt5 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
It was a real struggle to finish this series. I'd seen portions of the 1970's movie and had high expectations for an updated series.

The acting and filming locations were good. The sceeen play left a lot to desire. There were frequent flashbacks for most of the characters. Most flashback scenes were hard to tie to the main plot and so frequent, it was hard to differentiate which scene was a flashback or a scene in the current time period. The flashbacks seemed to be an attempt at injecting supernatural aspects into the plot, but I think this failed.

The ending was anticlimactic and left a lot of unanswered questions.
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1/10
Garbage
drednm4 June 2018
Tedious 6-hour series based on the classic 1975 Australian film about a group of female students and a teacher who disappear at Hanging Rock on Valentine's Day in 1900. Everything in this series is wrong: the casting of Mrs. Appleyard, the behavior and attitudes of the girls, and the hideous and anachronistic music.

The added backstories to the various characters is obvious padding and distracts from the central mystery that gets sidelined by a bunch of soap opera hogwash about runaway wives, separated siblings, and vaguely gay and lesbian leanings. None of this claptrap has anything to do with the disappearances.

Natalie Dormer is miscast in the central role of of headmistress (Rachel Roberts starred in the original), and she plays the part much too broadly. We don't need to know all the particulars; all we need to know is that she is stern and mysterious. The only acting standout in the cast is James Hoare as Albert, and he is only tangentially connected to the mystery.

Then there's the modern PC casting of the half-black student enrolled in a white girls' finishing school in the Victorian Australian Outback in 1900. Ya right! A total of 3 directors worked on the 6 episodes, with at least two writers working on separate episodes. That's just a clue as to why this mess is so disjointed and lacking in any unified vision whatsoever.
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10/10
A wonderful, If not entirely faithful adaption...
courtneypj8 May 2018
I have finished watching the entire mini series and I can say without a shadow of a doubt it gets better each episode you get through. The character development is wonderful, and the stylish use of camera work and modern elements really lifts the story to new heights.

This is not a remake of the classic story, or even the well known Peter Weir film, it is its own reimagining for a new audience, that fills in the gaps enough to be new, but maintains its own signature ending.
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4/10
Not watching anymore
lanckenj8 May 2018
I waited with anticipation to this production. All the post hype accolades, told me it was a must see. I had to watch the first episode twice, yes twice to understand the intricately but complexing weaved story of its characters. I m not a fan of the background/ music/score if you can call it any of those. The costuming and photography are outstanding, though I question Mrs Appleyards Sunglasses. Did they actually have sunglasses then? I am hoping it will all develop a bit more and I can stick with it. Now 3 Episodes in and I cannot watch it any more. The story line does not flow its all over the shop to follow. Very disappointing.
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9/10
Happy Valentine's Day
Silent_Cal10 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
It's marvelously refreshing to watch a period film take such bold stylistic chances, from the vivid title font to the dizzying camera angles and the anachronic narrative. At the same time we are treated to costumes, sets, and details every bit as historically accurate as what you'd find in Downton Abbey. The juxtaposition is delightful.

The eponymous picnic, and the disappearance of the three girls, happens in the first episode. Spoiler: the mystery is never really resolved. The fruitless search is also over quite quickly; the remaining episodes unravel the characters' lives, revealing who they were and who they wanted to be, and the societal forces arrayed against them. Flashbacks and fever-dreams recur throughout, as time seems to stand still and reality grows increasingly fluid. The ambiguity is very Australian, and very startling to my American sensibilities: the ancient landscape and the Victorian colonists may exist side by side, but they are worlds apart, and the series' writers and directors make us feel that sense of displacement and uncertainty.

Natalie Dormer stars as Mrs Appleyard, the headmistress of the girls' school, and while it may have been enough for her to be merely cruel and mysterious, instead she is surprisingly complex and nuanced: strict, frequently abusive, but occasionally sympathetic. Her relationship with an orphaned girl is layered and fascinating, as she sees in the girl a reflection of her own childhood, and uses her harsh discipline to try to correct for her own past mistakes.

Few answers are provided, either to the central mystery or to the characters' motivations. The people, like the story, defy conventional explanations. That approach is almost as bold as the lurid pink on the poster. We expect heroes and villains from our entertainment, or at least logic and clarity; Picnic at Hanging Rock offers us contradictions and questions instead.
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1/10
This lacks refinement... WHERE'S THE ROCK?!
lizzylane-8515131 May 2018
From a screen-shown pile of human faeces on the floor, to a homemade phallic sex toy, an almost comical long shot of a full frontal naked man collapsed to the floor, 'Scary Movie'-style jump scares galore - one involving an unexplained gutted animal, one involving a group of extras performing cringe-worthy synchronised choreography whilst a girl retells her survival tale... this series truly lacks subtlety and maturity and I am left bemused wondering, is this story suppose to be all that comedic? On top of all this, Hanging Rock and the picnic itself - HARDLY FEATURED. Most of the filming of the 'Picnic scenes' are filmed by a lake which I believe to be elsewhere in the Macedon Ranges, but it looks like it could be anywhere. I have finally reached Episode 5 now and I honestly feel I have given this series more than it's fair share of chances.

In keen, excited anticipation of this series, I watched the 'making of' documentary and was actually astounded at some rather snide remarks made by senior members of the crew of this 2018 production, both towards Peter Weir's film and even Joan Lindsay's novel. From comments such as 'No-one wants a stuffy old Victorian piece' to 'Miranda only had 2 lines in the original film', to the costume designer not even getting the series title correct... it did not leave me with a good impression of the team behind the 2018 production. That is where this series went wrong to start with. From watching the making of doco, I also noticed, as many others have, that there are many obvious and at times offensive historical inaccuracies (such as placing an Indigenous girl in the college... completely ignoring/writing out of history the factual truth of suffering and genocide of Australia's Indigenous peoples). Despite these factors, I pressed on determined to embrace this series, curious as to how they will venture to interpret this fascinating tale...

I watched the first 2 episodes 3 times each, both in order to give it a good chance to grow on me, also because the storylines are at times so all over the place and the dialogue quite weakly abstract, it is simply difficult to follow at times, but lacking true intrigue and any genuine mystery. At times, when attempting to be at it's most mysterious, the special effects featured are somewhat reminiscent of some kind of fantasy children's show such as Round The Twist. From gold dust randomly floating in the air, to an unexplained display of dancing spins by Miss Leopold, to an ultra blurry soft lens effect that looks like it was done on "Orton" effect on PicMonkey. For me the worst part of all... the um... soundtrack? Ambient, fast paced electronic music, sounds like something that would be playing in a trendy cafe in South Yarra, in the mid 2000s. There is not a hint of intrigue in the score and rather than adding to the series, it takes credibility away from it. One last thought on the score is... when St Valentines day roles around in episode 1 and we get some enthused random girl yelling out "HAPPY ST VALENTINES!", we are treated to hearing some electric guitar being played in the transition. Electric Guitar... in 1900? Really?

Pros: Effortful acting from Lily Sullivan, Samara Weaving, Madeleine Madden and Natalie Dormer. Alot of effort has obviously gone into set design for the interior shots. More focus on the Rothschild ancestory of Irma, Edith's escape from the rock is quite a gripping if not short lived moment, Miranda's portrayal is - although very different to the film, quite sweet and intriguing (yet she is not focused on much, after episode 2), my last pro is that hopefully this series will introduce a new generation to the 1975 film and the novel.

Cons: Hanging Rock itself is barely featured! Alot of this is not filmed on location at the rock apart from very few shots here and there (mostly just of the boys searching after the disappearance), most Picnic shots are filmed in lush greenery unlike the dryer, forboding landscapes of Hanging Rock reserve. The screenplay is in my opinion weak and un-atmospheric. There is overt and tasteless imagery at times with no regard for necessary creative subtleties, huge and unforgiveable historical inaccuracies, well made but over exaggerated costumery, biased political themes throughout, experimental, abstract cinematography.

Will perhaps appeal to anyone unfamiliar with the novel or the Edwardian era. A let down indeed.
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9/10
Love this as much as Weir's 1975 film
markkbranson29 May 2018
I have to confess to my ambiguity about this adaptation of the late 1960s novel: I loved Weir's original adaptation and followed his career from that point forward. It is a work of art that few films have measured to I my time.

However, I wanted to see this Australian TV version just to see how it might work. I am not disappointed! This TV adaptation explores more themes and clearly has the third or fourth wave of feminism propelling it. If for now other reason, you should watch this film to see how wonderful the women are to challenge the patriarchy of 1900 as well as the elements that have survived to today.

Cinematography and directing are breathtaking. Acting is wonderful, tho' some of the younger students chew a little scenery. The writers did an unimaginable job. Binge wat h it twice to relish this marvelous film......then treat yourself to Weir's 1975 version for dessert! You will enjoy the time you have devoted to a great "picnic."
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10/10
<3
oliviabrookesmith23 June 2018
I never read the Novel I watched this show due to Matalie Dormer being in it! I fell in love I love mysteries! I hope they make more seasons!
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