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Picnic at Hanging Rock

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Australia

1975

Rated PG • 1h 57m

Director Peter Weir

Starring Rachel Roberts, Vivean Gray, Helen Morse, Kirsty Child

Genre Drama, Mystery

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In the early 1900s, Miranda attends a girls boarding school in Australia. One Valentine's Day, the school's typically strict headmistress treats the girls to a picnic field trip to an unusual but scenic volcanic formation called Hanging Rock. Despite rules against it, Miranda and several other girls venture off. It's not until the end of the day that the faculty realizes the girls and one of the teachers have disappeared mysteriously.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

50

Time Out by

In the final count, nothing is satisfactorily resolved because tensions remain unexplored, while the atmospherically beautiful images merely entice and divert. The result is little more than a discreetly artistic horror film.
100

Slant Magazine by Chris Cabin

It’s the characters’ ceaseless need to fully understand, outsmart, and undermine nature’s sway that drives them into fervor and, often enough, leads them to shuffle off this mortal coil.
50

Chicago Reader by Dave Kehr

Director Peter Weir struggles to create an atmosphere of mystical languor, dissolving his actors in blinding sunlight and filling his sound track with the faintly ominous rustles of nature. But the deenergized drama leads only to anticlimax, as Weir suggests much more than he shows and invites the audience to fill in the meanings.
100

The Dissolve by Keith Phipps

Weir builds atmosphere one detail and lingering shot at a time. The cluttered, shadowy interiors of the school contrast with the open spaces and welcoming light of Hanging Rock, but the film makes neither feel like a safe place. Every moment feels designed to be unsettling, but the film also creates a sense of inevitability, that whatever is happening can’t be avoided, and should perhaps be embraced.

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