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Picnic at Hanging Rock

Year: 1975
Director: Peter Weir
Producer: Hal McElroy/Jim McElroy
Cast: Rachel Roberts, Anne Lambert, John Jarratt, Jacki Weaver
Haunting, sumptuous and beautiful throughout, one of the best renditions of period dress, settings, behaviour and ideals on film and Australia's first worldwide cinematic hit. The true story of a small ladies' college in rural Victoria on a daytrip to the mythical Hanging Rock - a volcanic hill in the bush - where two students and their governess vanished in 1900.

The first 45 minutes is a joy of sights, sounds, mood and texture, but from there the story become a little more grounded and loses some of that flavour, and despite retaining its poise and beauty the rest of the way through, it tries to make a story out of little material. Not a trace of the missing girls or teacher were ever found in real life (although the discovery of one on top of the rock is depicted in the film - after a convalesence she doesn't report anything of what happened to the others) and it's therefore the unenviable task of the writer and director to try and stretch the story into a feature length film without a satisfactory conclusion.

Lambert is indeed as beautiful and haunting as a Boticelli angel as one of her teachers points out, and Jarratt and Weaver look impossibly pubescent - they can't have both been more than 20.

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