Recently I rewatched Peter Weir’s haunting 1975 flick Picnic At Hanging Rock. Dug it the first time I saw it. But wowie, this time, I went gaga. Matter-of-fact, I’m obsessed now. I can’t stop thinking about this little flick. With it’s eerie pan-flute score and it’s Virgin Suicides-like dreamy teen-memory feel, I keep trying to put the pieces together in my head. What just happened? What did I miss? What was actually in the movie and what cracks in the story did my brain automatically fill in for me?
For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the Criterion DVD site's synopsis...
Twenty years after it swept Australia into the international film spotlight, Peter Weir's stunning 1975 masterpiece remains as ineffable as the unanswerable mystery at its core. A Valentine's Day picnic at an ancient volcanic outcropping turns to disaster for the residents of Mrs. Appleyard's school when a few young girls inexplicably vanish on Hanging Rock. A lyrical, meditative film charged with suppressed longings.
I can’t get enough info on it. I’m dying to learn more.
Unfortunately Criterion’s DVD is, um, lacking.
While the English 3-disc Deluxe Edition DVD is loaded with hours of extras including the 25 minute on-set documentary A Recollection: Hanging Rock 1900.
But what has me in a total drool, appears to be the feature length documentary (It's like ninety minutes long! That’s longer then your average Adam Sandler flick) called A Dream Within a Dream: The Making Of 'Picnic At Hanging Rock.
I've been combing the internet to see if anyone downloaded the doc, to watch on-line. But I haven't found it yet....YET.
* Some of the foreign additions also contain many of the deleted scenes. Which are explained with photo’s here.
* Apparently Hanging Rock itself has become a tourist trap which plays up the myths created by the movie and the book.
* In the article Picnic at Hanging Rock: The Unseen Voices, writer John Godl discusses the casting of the young girls and the eventual complete voice over work done with one of the actresses work. For a guy like me who wants to gobble up all the info I can, it’s fascinating stuff. But Godl does get a little whiny about the voice actresses not getting their (kudos) due.
* I must say most of the user’s comments on IMDB are usually really lame.
But one ‘commenter’ fedor8 from Serbia weighed in (Not recommendable to MTV fans..., 7 August 2007) with some interesting observations and theories concerning the Botticelli Angel.
* Bookmice goes even further with the ideas and themes behind the imagery.
THIS JUST IN: I just came across these...
* Rock of Ages by Michael J Bayly which is loaded with info!
* Brett Mckenzie offers his "Solution to Joan Lindsey's Novel".
* In an interview with the director, Peter Weir points out some "mysteries aren't necessarily there to be solved".
Picnic at Hanging Rock is often compared to Antonioni's L'Avventura (1960) and perhaps Powell & Pressburger's Black Narcissus (1947). Fairly Roger Ebert compares the movie to David Lean’s final film, the adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel A Passage To India (1984). Both, unexplained mysteries involving suppressed Victorian sexuality and public hysteria.
I’m reminded of Don Siegel's The Beguiled (1970). In which Clint Eastwood plays a wounded Union soldier taken in by the residents of a girls boarding school, where he goes about seducing the Head master (Geraldine Page), the teacher and the students.
It’s a sorta Southern-Gothic yarn. Clint with his big, cool, blow-dried 70’s hair, in probably the closest he’s been to a villain and his most ‘sexual’. It’s also probably contains Eastwood performing more dialog then all his previous films combined.
Zelena at Live Journal fits both films ‘within the 'Girls' School' genre’.
A favorite genre of mine, that might also include Clouzot’s brilliant Hitchcockian thriller Diabolique (1955). As well as the more obvious The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) and The Children's Hour (1961) and the groovy Therese and Isabelle (1968) and the recent disappointing The Woods (2006).
You could also though in The Trouble with Angels (1966) and it’s sequel Where Angels Go Trouble Follows! (1968), along with the Australian flick Flirting (1991) and the French Innocence (2004) and the Canadian Lost and Delirious (2001) and the TV-Movie Satan's School for Girls (1973). Dario Argento has at least two, Suspiria (1977) and Phenomena (1984). And maybe I'd add the misplaced 007 classic On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
Here’s hoping we, the poor souls in the bloody-States who don't have region-free players, will someday get our own neato two or three disc version of Picnic At Hanging Rock (and how about The Magnificent Ambersons on DVD? Like Europe has.) Maybe new leadership from the White House in 09 will finally rescue us from being a third-world-country DVD-wise.