Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

June 5th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: PeterWeir | Cast: Rachel Roberts, Anne-Louise Lambert, Helen Morse, Vivean Gray, Kirsty Child, Tony Llewellyn Jones | Fantasy Drama, Australia 115’

The last time I saw this adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel – a film that triumphantly realises Hitchcock’s oft-expressed desire (a desire that also informed Claude Chabrol’s ‘Le Boucher’) to locate a spine-chilling mystery against a rural backdrop in brilliant sunlight – I found the experience so unnerving that when it was over it took a major effort simply to venture out into the dark to put the bins out.

Cliff Green bases his script on a novel by Joan Lindsay that sees a group of Australian schoolgirls vanish mysteriously during an idyllic summer picnic, haunting and frustrating the people left behind. That the sole girl to return is unable to explain exactly what happened during the time of her absence is characteristic of the film’s ambiguity which strongly implies that somehow the supernatural were involved without spelling it out.

When the film came out a reporter noticed that in 1900 Valentine’s Day fell on a Wednesday not a Saturday and the tragedy wasn’t in any of the papers at the time. So he asked Joan Lindsay if it actually happened and only then did she reveal that the novel was entirely fictitious. @RichardChatten


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