Picnic at Hanging Rock

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Picnic at Hanging Rock is a 1975 Australian mystery film directed by Peter Weir, adapted from the novel of the same name. It premiered at the Hindley Cinema Complex in Adelaide, South Australia on 8 August 1975. It became one of the first Australian films to reach an international audience, receiving international acclaim and commercial popularity, and thus has an important place in both cinematic and Australian history. The film stars Helen Morse, Rachel Roberts and Vivean Gray. The film centres on a party of schoolgirls who mysteriously vanish after being drawn towards a mysterious rock formation in Australia in 1900.[1]

It is known for its dreamlike aura, eerie soundtrack and mysterious, unresolved story; for the debate over its meaning, see the article on the novel.

Contents

Plot

The screenplay, adapted by Green from Lindsay's novel, tells the story of the disappearance of three schoolgirls and their teacher during a picnic at a geological formation known as Hanging Rock on Valentine's Day in 1900. Although the story has the picnic taking place on a Saturday, 14th February 1900 was a Wednesday. The reason for their disappearance is never discovered, but the mystery has a profound effect on everybody in their community.

The film begins in a (fictional) English girls' school in the Australian bush. The school is headed by Mrs. Appleyard (Rachel Roberts), an indomitable and unbending figure of authority. Her staff include the remote mathematics mistress Miss Greta McCraw (Vivean Gray), said to have a 'masculine' intellect, who vanishes on the Rock with three pupils; the young and beautiful Mademoiselle de Portiers (Helen Morse), who teaches French and deportment; and the jittery Miss Lumley (Kirsty Child), who is anxious to please Mrs. Appleyard.

Although she commands little more than half an hour of screen time, the film's central character is Miranda (Anne-Louise Lambert), a young student whose beauty is compared by Mademoiselle de Portiers to one of Botticelli's angels. Her circle of friends includes Irma (Karen Robson), Marion (Jane Vallis), Rosamund (Ingrid Mason) and the waifish Sara (Margaret Nelson), whose affection for Miranda stems from a deep crush. Another pupil, Edith (Christine Schuler) hovers on the edge of Miranda's circle, desperate for acceptance. Sara, an orphan who is a kind of charity pupil, is disliked by Mrs. Appleyard and is not allowed to join the outing, ostensibly because she has not memorized a poem. Miranda tells Sara she 'won't be here much longer', suggesting a premonition of her disappearance.

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