Picnic At Hanging Rock
Director Peter Weir's (The Last Wave, The Truman Show) 1975 film Picnic At Hanging Rock helped initiate the first wave of interest in Australian moviemaking. Strangely, it's never been available on video in America, except as a bootleg, until now. Based on Joan Lindsay's novel, Picnic At Hanging Rock concerns a Valentine's Day excursion by the members of a girls' boarding school in 1900 to the natural landmark of the title. Three of them, and one of their teachers, disappear without explanation, leaving their community to puzzle, fret, and eventually fall apart. An air of dread looms over Hanging Rock, like a ghost story in which the ghosts are spoken of but never seen. Horrific outbursts of emotion interrupt long stretches of silence as it becomes clear that the film is drifting further and further from offering any explanation of its central event. Hanging Rock suggests, insofar as it suggests anything, that however mysterious the disappearance might be, it primarily serves to focus the unstated anxieties of the society in which it occurs. It's a beautifully shot, haunted, and haunting movie, a classic example of the power of suggestiveness, elusiveness, and understatement and a peerless mystery in the truest sense of the word. For this re-release, Weir has prepared a director's cut which, in an unusual move, trims about seven minutes from the original running time.