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PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK

Australia, 1975 (MIFF 1998, Australian Showcase)

Director: Peter Weir

Peter Weir's film adaptation of Joan Lindsay's classic, largely faithful to the original novel, describes the collapse of a rural Victorian boarding college following the mysterious disappearance of three girls and a teacher atop Hanging Rock.

The unease that Weir provokes in the film is covertly sexual, yet it would be mistaken to simply attribute a lesbian subtext to this tension. The story's timing - St Valentine's Day, 1900 - typifies an era of late-Victorian constraints pressing like a whale-bone corset onto the harsh and relentless Australian landscape. The relationship of the girls with the rock, led by the enigmatic Miranda, signifies a metaphoric relationship between the constraints of civilisation and an unpredictable environment. Anne Lambert portrays Miranda as self-determined yet detached from the social mores of the times.

Produced in an era of sexual and Feminist liberation, Picnic at Hanging Rock is an ambitious exploration of female sexuality and taboo. As the century closes, Peter Weir's 1975 classic remains perhaps the most powerful and provocative cinematic expression of European Australia's turbulent relationship with this great southern land. The director's cut of Picnic at Hanging Rock, a stunning new 35mm print, will be screened at MIFF 1998.

Producer Patricia Lovell and actor Anne-Louise Lambert are guests of the Festival.

Peter Weir, born in Sydney, 1944, is recognised internationally as one of the most significant directors to emerge from Australia. After shocking local sensibilities with The Cars That Ate Paris (1974), Weir cemented his Australian reputation with films like Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and The Last Wave (1977). After the box office success of Gallipoli (1981), Weir commenced his international career in earnest with a string of hits including Witness (1985), Dead Poets Society (1986) and Fearless (1993).

See also...

THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS

Peter Weir's first feature was a highly unusual black comedy. Misunderstood for years, The Cars That Ate Paris has overtones of J.G. Ballard's urban science fiction and Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend. In ... More »

Whatever Happened to Green Valley

Peter Weir makes a spoof current affairs documentary. Playing a TV reporter himself, he demonstrates how the reporting of Green Valley, a housing commission estate, had been subjected to very harsh ... More »

THREE TO GO - Michael

Should Michael follow the straight and narrow path of conformity, or listen to the prophets of change and revolution? The question is: in which world does Michael belong? ... This episode won the ... More »

Boat Building

Made as part of a series on Adult Learning for the Training Section of the Public Service Board, this is the best of the series, unpretentious, no commentary and a short appearance by Kate ... More »

Homesdale

Homesdale is an expensive private guest house on a remote island where the guests are encouraged to live out their fantasies. They have contrived to do this with considerable facility. Mr. Malfrey ... More »

SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY

Jack Thompson, Max Cullen, Peter Cummins, John Ewart: Sunday Too Far Away is a parade of Australian cinema royalty. This leather tough 1974 feature is set on an Australian sheep station in 1955 in ... More »

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