Film Style: Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975)

Picnic at Hanging Rock movie (27)

The film Picnic At Hanging Rock has become something of a cult classic. Directed by Peter Weir, it was released in 1975 and set in 1900, but like many movies of that period it is now identified as much with the style of the 70s as it is with the Edwardian era. The long white lace gowns worn by the girls at the beginning of the film have many resemblances to the romantic maxi dresses which became popular at the time, along with the long hair, natural make-up look, and soft-focus lighting.

The story itself was adapted from a 1967 novel by Joan Lindsay. It tells of a group of girls from a prestigious boarding school, who are taken for an outing on Valentine’s Day. Several of them disappear, and the rest of the book and film are spent looking at the reactions of those who were left and examining what could have happened.

It is very slow and eerie; not one if you are looking for a fast-paced plot and lots of action, but a treat if you like unsettling mysteries and bucketloads of atmosphere. This is often believed to be based on a true story, but that is in fact an urban myth (I was very surprised when I found out). Highly recommended even if only for the beautiful hazy cinematography.

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The scene above is reminiscent of the famous Australian painting ‘Lost’ by Frederick McCubbin (1886)

McCubbin_lost australian bush painting frederick