I remember reading (God knows where) someone’s shaggy-dog story about this film. Apparently, this individual had a friend (as people who tell these kind of stories tend to) who went to see ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ sometime in the mid 1970s. He was late, there was the inevitable confusion, and he consequently spent the next two hours whimpering in fear – waiting for the chainsaw-wielding assassin to appear and rip into a bunch of immaculately attired Edwardian schoolgirls.
This is probably as good an analogy as any for the sense of dread this film (fitfully) manages to accumulate. Watching it is like seeing weather systems build. Small increments appear, converge on other increments, circling each other ambiguously before merging into a grey, baleful mass that sits there on the horizon, making atmospheric noises. In ‘Picnic…’ the wind moves plangently through eucalypts, clocks tick, an orphan girl is the victim of snobbish behaviour, girls gossip, more clocks tick, the wind moves through more eucalypts, the clocks stop, something ‘unspeakably eerie’ happens, and that’s pretty much it.
Ultimately, the film is about Peter Weir placing markers of European culture – corsets, watches, a locally built replica of an Eighteenth century English manor – in the vast, contoured, deeply ambivalent Australian hinterland, and letting his camera record the absurdity of those spatial relationships. His early twentieth century Australians anxiously encircle themselves with the accoutrements of civilization they’ve brought with them – its dress codes, its class politics, its architectural styles – as if shielding their bodies from the unfamiliar landscape outside. Yet their attempts to maintain a European identity by ‘keeping up appearances’ come off as merely obsessional.
The elaborate dresses the girls wear, the formalities observed at the picnic (and at a surreal dinner party set on a flat, sunblasted lake edge – a Seurat painting gone horribly wrong), far from being emblems that mark a cultural continuity unifying Australia with Europe, seem oddly fetishistic – deeply arbitrary. Weir’s characters seem to sense this meaninglessness also; they’re enervated, without conviction. They seem to realize that, in bearing items of European material culture within this new environment, they’re merely in possession of a bunch of dead letters – signifiers rendered powerless (decontextualized) by distance. As more than one character remarks, ‘it all looks different here’.
To add to the unease, Weir intercuts all this with shots of the landscape – huge, forested, confrontationally empty. There’s a sense of something staring back, unimpressed, ‘personified’ by the oddly biomorphic shapes within Hanging Rock itself.
One can still feel the reverberations, twenty five years on. There are definite echoes of ‘Picnic…’ in ‘The Piano’, ‘The Virgin Suicides’, and the whole slew of films that erstwhile Antipodean Sam Neill rather dodgily categorises the ‘Cinema of Unease’. If you really want to freak yourself out, try watching this and ‘The Quiet Earth’ in the same sitting. You may never feel absolute faith in your ties to the physical universe again.
Picnic at Hanging Rock-1975 HD Remastered
Cult classic Aussie movie based on Joan Lindsays novel \u0026 directed by the now legendary Peter Weir..
Picnic at hanging rock has become a huge global hit \u0026 has even now become a successful stage play \u0026 is taught \u0026 shown in schools \u0026 colleges all over the world, 50 years after is release date..
Picnic at hanging rock has become a huge hit with film makers all over the world due to the film being such a beautiful masterpiece as it does really captures the 19th century Australian life style perfectly, led by a strong female cast \u0026 the haunting music \u0026 cinema photography along with a strong \u0026 fantastic cast really brings Joan Lindsays best selling novel to life \u0026 has 1 of the most talked about endings in Cinema history..
Sadly along with other great classic films the film industry has hit a brick wall \u0026 they have now started to remake these AMAZING films \u0026 Picnic At Hanging Rock has recently had the reboot (remake) \u0026 was made into a 1 season series which I urge all of you to AVOID \u0026 thats just my personal opinion but according to critics \u0026 world wide fans, Peter Weir 1975 original is still the best version based on the greatest Australian novel ever written..