Friday, August 5, 2011

Picnic at Hanging Rock

On Valentine's Day in the year 1900, girls from a boarding school go on an all day retreat to an area made of up of volcanic rock. After reciting poetry and laying about, four of the girls decide to climb the rock, seemingly drawn by an unspoken possession. One girl runs back, and the other three, along with a teacher whose disappearance is never explained, are never seen from again. The disappearances cause a media stir and have a devastating affect not only on the girl's college, its students, and cruel headmaster, but also on two young men who were present that unfortunate and mysterious day. Picnic at Hanging Rock was master Aussie director Peter Weir's first film to reach an international audience, and it is a lyrical and haunting film. Like fellow countryman and director Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout, it deals with teenagers dealing with their sexual longings while alone in the wilderness. Weir's film is successful because of its atmospheric tone and beautiful visuals, but also because it never provides answers, only suggestions as to what happened to the girls. Benefiting from the same strategy that aided Fargo, the movie presents itself as a true story, when it was really based on a book by Joan Lindsay which was only inspired by true events. Picnic at Hanging Rock is an eerie film made by a true director who knows that not all horror films must deal with blood, guts, and cheap scares.