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“picnic at hanging rock.” a movie that has been on my mind for a long time..

October 10, 2014

“On St. Valentine’s Day in 1900, a party of school girls set out to picnic at Hanging Rock. …. Some were never to return.” – from the original movie poster. The movie was released in 1975.

“Picnic at Hanging Rock.”

This is perhaps the most eerie film I have ever seen. It is not a horror film. It’s an unsolved mystery. I’m not spoiling anything by telling you this movie is an unsolved mystery, it says that right on the back of the DVD box, or at least on the one at the local library I go to.

Some people want tidy resolutions to mystery movies. I am often like this. But real life is full of unsolved mysteries. I think it is refreshing and intriguing to watch an unsolved mystery film.

Why do I say the movie is eerie? Part of it is because the disappearance of the girls remains unsolved. Another reason the movie is so creepy is because of the Australian scenery. The film was made on location at the real Hanging Rock, in Victoria, Australia. Yes, this is a real place!

Another thing that is especially unnerving.. the music. Some of it is played on a pan flute, but much of the music sounds like it is played on some primitive synthesizer. Perhaps even the sound of the pan flute is synthesized. I don’t know. Very strange music to go with the scenery and story.

Some people won’t like this movie because it is rather slow. For me, the slow pace makes it haunting.

Some people won’t like this movie because it is set in part in a girls’ boarding school, and there are no hot lesbian scenes. This is not porn. This is not a show made by HBO or Netflix.

There is definitely an air of sexual repression in the film, and that adds tension to the story. Roger Ebert called this movie, “A film of haunting mystery and buried sexual hysteria.”

The performances are rather good. The cinematography is both beautiful and somehow frightening. The music is perfect for the story. The story is simple, but the film is so well done.

If you have patience, and aren’t the kind of person who only watches a movie if it’s been made in the last 5 years, if you don’t need explosions, graphic sex, or buckets of gore to entertain you, and you don’t mind the mystery remaining unsolved, you will probably like this movie. You might like it a lot.

But I warn you.. it might just stay in your mind for a long time. I haven’t last seen it since the winter of 2012, but I still think of it sometimes. I’ve seen it three times already, and will soon watch it again.

If you watch “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” and want something as strange (but somewhat violent), I recommend another Australian classic, also directed by Peter Weir, called “The Last Wave.” I might write about that one later. I’ve only seen that film once so far, and don’t quite understand it. I’ll watch it again at least once more before I write about it.

“Picnic at Hanging Rock” is a foreign film classic. You will likely be able to find a copy of it at a library.

I shall leave you with a brief video of the director talking a bit about how the film came to be made, and the trailer for “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2015 4:52 AM

    This is one of the most haunting movie of my life. It has impacted me in so many way and I will never be able to part from its influence.

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      August 25, 2015 11:54 PM

      Yes, it truly is unique, and very haunting! Thanks for your comment!

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