Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Picnic at Hanging Rock – Film Review

Fig.1 Poster Art

Picnic at Hanging Rock was released in 1975. The Australian feature film directed by Peter Weir and starring Anne-Louise Lambert, Helen Morse, Rachel Roberts and Vivean Gray is about the story of the disappearance of several schoolgirls and their teacher during a picnic to Hanging Rock on St. Valentine's Day in 1900, and the subsequent effect on the local community. A poetic and enigmatic drama that's a classic of Australian cinema The film is adapted from the novel of the same name, by author Joan Lindsay which is believed to be based on a true story.
Picnic at the Hanging rock starts at a Victorian school for girls in which the girls set off for a picnic trip to “The Hanging Rock”. Once getting there three of the girls ask if they can explore, they head of towards the rock slowly making their way up it becoming drowsy but finally go through a passage and not to be seen again, leading us the viewer into suspicion as to where and when they will reappear. Throughout the film and at the end the audience is left wondering what the film was about, maybe wondering if the film was completed?
“We are left with an uncanny respect for the mysteries in life that can never be solved by logic alone.” (Brussat, 2002)

The film vaguely resembles that of the film ‘Don’t look now’ with its slow build ups and scenes, which “constructs a film of haunting mystery and buried sexual hysteria. It also employs two of the hallmarks of modern Australian films: beautiful cinematography and stories about the chasm between settlers from Europe and the mysteries of their ancient new home” (Ebert, 1998) As Ebert states beautiful cinematography, contrasted with the mystery makes the film flow and immerses the viewer.

The emphasis within Weir’s cinematography on wildlife is massive, trying to make the viewer feel immersed in the film, almost as if they are looking ‘over the hedge’ to watch the film “His visionary camerawork keeps resting on plants, animals, hives of restless insects, the screen almost bursting with wildness. Weir’s emphasis is on nature’s alien quality, how these prim girls are set against unknowable forces.” (Nathan, 2010) adding to Nathan’s quote, the scenes almost don't make sense, giving the film a dream like feel. The colour tint of the frame gives everything a vintage feel.





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