In response to the campaign, Luke Spielvogel, the president of Friends of Hanging Rock, noted that the novel and particularly, the character of Miranda, captured the "ethereal, mysterious nature of the rock"; he also suggested the novel and character should remain part of the "broader tapestry" of the site:
The most primitive and petrifying of our fears made manifest onstage, Picnic at Hanging Rock is an absolute triumph of the dual power of theatre and horror to manipulate our realities and leave us haunted not by ghosts, but by our own imaginations.
[...] Questions raised or signalled by Lindsay were taken up by weir in his adaptation of the novel. The film Picnic at Hanging Rock is constructed around the following vivid contrasts:
As does Lindsay, Weir builds his film around the contrasts of two monoliths, Hanging Rock and Appleyard College. The film opens with a shot of an early morning scene at Hanging Rock, which towers over the surrounding landscape. From this scene a dissolve takes the viewer to Appleyard College. The awe-inspiring Rock is photographed like an old Gothic castle; as in Gothic novels or in horror films, it dominates the region and awaits its new victims. The college, and its austere headmistress, Mrs. Appleyard (Rachel Roberts), are portrayed similarly by way of a great number of low- and high-angle shots, which stress the authoritarian character end Victorian repressiveness of the school and its head.
This was my third time seeing Picnic at Hanging Rock over the last decade, having first experienced it during a Film Studies course in college. Though it’s not a movie one would necessarily revisit often, it remains a gorgeously shot exercise in local hysteria when a tragedy strikes, and one of Peter Weir’s finest films. The Blu-Ray edition from The Criterion Collection looks stunning in High Definition, with the gorgeous cinematography being a highlight on this release. Natural film grain is authentic, detail is clear and clean, and the color timing looks accurate. The audio is a standout as well, with the eerie piano score sounding very dynamic on this HD track. Once again, Criterion has loaded this dual format release with incredible special features, making this edition the “must own” version of the film. Picnic at Hanging Rock from The Criterion Collection comes highly recommended.
This Blu-Ray Dual Format edition from The Criterion Collection features an exquisite image that retains the sepia-gold color timing and authentic natural film grain. Colors are bold and sharp, and fine object detail, especially in the elaborate costume design on the girl’s wardrobes, is very clear and precise. The cinematography is simply stunning to behold, with beautiful scenic shots of the college courtyard, hanging rock, and the surrounding woodlands. Scratches, debris, and other anomalies are hard to find, this is a very clean print!
icnic at Hanging Rock established Peter Weir as a master in creating an uncanny, dreamlike atmosphere. It was among the most successful Australian films of the 1970s. Opening in Adelaide on 8 August 1975, it gradually became a symbol of the Australian film revival. It was shown in several countries (in the United States as late as 1979, after the success of The Last Wave) to critical acclaim mirrored by box-office triumph. Though originally ignored by the jury of the 1976 Australian Film Institute Awards, Picnic at Hanging Rock won the 1977 British Film Institute Award for best cinematography (Russell Boyd) and many other awards at smaller international film festivals.
Lindsay claimed to have written the novel based on an idea she had in a dream. In a 2017 article in , it was noted: "The dream had centred on a summer picnic at a place called Hanging Rock, which Joan knew well from her childhood holidays. Joan told Rae [her housekeeper] that the dream had felt so real that when she awoke at 7.30am, she could still feel the hot summer breeze blowing through the gum trees and she could still hear the peals of laughter and conversation of the people she'd imagined, and their gaiety and lightness of spirit as they set out on their joyful picnic expedition."
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Dual Format release from The Criterion Collection features the lovely ladies during their picnic at hanging rock. You have to admire the lighting and costume design for the film, and this image certainly serves as a fine cover for the release. On the reverse of the slip-box packaging you’ll find a plot synopsis for the film, a list of special features, and technical specifications. Inside of the case, Criterion was kind enough to include the original novel by Joan Lindsay from Penguin Books, as well as the digi-pack design for the single Blu-Ray disc and two DVD discs. The art design throughout the package is downright gorgeous, featuring iconic scenes and frames from the film. As always, Criterion has also included a glossy photo booklet with a wonderful essay by Megan Abbott. This is as good as it gets for fine cinema aficionados, and Criterion continues to prove that it’s the best in the business when it comes to incredibly well packaged home video releases.
In his introduction to Picnic at Hanging Rock, a new co-production with Australia’s Black Swan State Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre, the Lyceum’s Artistic Director David Greig urges us to ‘huddle round the theatrical campfire.’ It is these hearkenings to the primitive and the primeval that makes the Lyceum’s retelling so spine-tinglingly effective.
This was my third time seeing Picnic at Hanging Rock over the last decade, having first experienced it during a Film Studies course in college. Though it’s not a movie one would necessarily revisit often, it remains a gorgeously shot exercise in local hysteria when a tragedy strikes. The dialogue is believable, and the lack of clear answers leaves the viewer to interpret their own conclusion. I’ve always found it interesting that the original novel had a “final” chapter that was excised before publishing that went more in depth with the near supernatural elements from the film.
Adapted from Joan Lindsay’s 1977 novel – a story now elevated to status of an urban legend buried like a prescient hatchet deep in the Australian psyche – Picnic at Hanging Rock tells of the disappearance of three schoolgirls and their teacher in 1900, during a day out at the titular and ominous Hanging Rock, Victoria. Spooling through time, space and the razed minds of those left behind, the girls’ vanishing summons a larger horror: the violent struggle to civilise an unknowable land, and the malleable, myriad definitions of freedom.