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Picnic at Hanging Rock

Australia 1975. Dir: Peter Weir. 107 min. DCP

Peter Weir’s dreamy, mystical film, one of the breakout works of the Australian New Wave, adapts Joan Lindsay’s acclaimed 1967 novel (recently adapted again as a six-part TV miniseries). In the state of Victoria on Valentine’s Day 1900, students of an elite school for young women embark on an outing to Hanging Rock, an unusual geological formation with spiritual significance to the area’s Aboriginals. There, three students and a teacher mysteriously disappear. Author Lindsay’s haunting book slyly hints at a basis in actual events, but is probably entirely fictive — although on that point some mystery lingers! Weir’s disquieting film has existential menace and sexual hysteria simmering beneath its hypnotically beautiful surface, and a supernatural suggestiveness that takes it tantalizingly close to horror-movie territory. Weir’s 1998 director’s cut, presented here, trimmed eight minutes off the original running time.


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