Logline: In Victoria, Australia in 1900, a group of schoolgirls and a teacher mysteriously vanish without a trace.
Review: Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock is a unique and sensual film experience. The first thing that the curious viewer should know about Weir’s landmark film is that it is a mystery without a solution. The fact that the film does not satisfy the viewer’s narrative expectations is part of the reason why it is so intriguing.
Too often do films do all the work for the viewer by providing an “easy,” straightforward narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. Films like Picnic at Hanging Rock require the viewer to do more work and leave much to the imagination. There is a lot happening beneath the film’s surface. Sexual repression, Victorian ideals and their collapse, and one’s connection with nature are just a few of the themes prevalent in the film.
On a visual level, Picnic at Hanging Rock is simply gorgeous and elegantly shot. Weir, whose other films include The Last Wave (1977), Gallipoli (1981), Witness (1985), Dead Poets Society (1989), and The Truman Show (1997), is an often overlooked and underrated filmmaker.
Picnic at Hanging Rock is the kind of film that has everything to do with atmosphere and mood. It is a truly haunting and ethereal experience that lingers and resonates in the mind.
Great scene: The sequence in which the girls ascend the rock is beautiful. It is hypnotic and shows the consuming power of nature.