Tuesday, July 12, 2011

599. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

Running Time: 108 minutes
Directed By: Peter Weir
Written By: Cliff Green, from novel by Joan Lindsay
Main Cast: Rachel Roberts, Vivean Gray, Helen Morse, Kristy Child, Tony Llewellyn-Jones


Today's choice, as we edge closer and closer to the milestone of 301 films watched, was "Picnic at Hanging Rock". Peter Weir was the director and upon reading the synopsis, it sounded as if the film was going to be very good. It sounded wrong.

The premise is fairly simple, so retelling it here shouldn't be too much of a chore. The film takes place on Valentine's Day 1900 and the location is the Appleyard Hall, a school for girls located in Australia. The school is headed by Mrs. Appleyard (Roberts), a prim and proper, yet sometimes crotchety old woman. Upon the opening moments of the film a picnic is being planned for the girls, in which they will travel to Hanging Rock and be served a luncheon, return later that night and write an essay on Hanging Rock. The girls are taken to their destination via horse and carriage and when they arrive they do as planned and have their picnic. Later that day, several of the girls, including Miranda (Anne-Louise Lambert), Irma, Marion and Edith, get permission to go exploring on Hanging Rock. The foursome reach one of the high points of the rock and seem to fall under a spell, removing their boots and stockings and taking a nap. Later, the four wake up and despite Edith's instructions not to, Miranda, Marion and Irma, climb higher...never to be seen again. Also, one of the instructors, Mrs. McCraw (Gray), goes missing as well.

Man, was this a chore to sit through. Before I go bashing a completely innocent film, allow me to shine what little praise I have for the film. For starters, the atmosphere, photography and score were all fantastic and provided a really strange aura to the whole film, which otherwise had a pure and innocent demeanor. There are some shots in there that seem to be pulled from an artists brain and the classical score that accompanies even the eeriest of happenings, works very well. Beethoven's Emperor Concerto is a gorgeous piece of music and I hereby condone it's use in any film where it would be used to it's full extent and beauty.

Other than those three elements, the film itself was a hell of a chore to sit through. While it didn't drag or seemingly make real time go slower, it was just very uninteresting and honestly, I didn't care about any of the characters. In fact, the only characters worth caring about were the missing characters and they were hardly in the film. I understand what Weir was going for here, having an unsolved mystery and trying to conjure up fear of the unknown, but it just seemed to go nowhere. From the moment that the girls disappear until the end of the film, seemingly nothing happens. I mean, sure things happen, but nothing of any real note. From there on it's just a bunch of meaningless strides to get to the end of the film, in my view. I'll stop there because it's obvious that outside of score, cinematography and atmosphere, this was just not going to be a film that I liked and as per my tastes, it was going to be a chore and it was.

RATING: 2.5/10 Even those certain details that attracted me to the film could not raise this film very high. Instead they were all simply lost on a dull picture.


July 11, 2011 10:06pm

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