Instant Classic

Paramount Theatre's Summer 2000 Series


D: Peter Weir; with Rachel Roberts, Dominic Guard, Helen Morse, Anne-Louise Lambert, Christine Schuler, Karen Robson, Margaret Nelson, John Jarratt, Vivean Gray. (PG, 110 min.)

It's impossible to ignore the steamy, subverted, subtextual yumminess strewn about Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock -- unless, of course, your corset's strapped a tad too tight. Even then, the big, hot, throbbing metaphors for sexual awakening are hard to miss, with so many entendre-laden shots of imposing phallic rocks, hairdos, and blouse collars up to here, lithe and agile swans, and lithe and agile Victorian schoolgirls. It's 1900, late summer at the all-girl Appleyard College in Australia. Nubile young maids speak in purple prose and quote Edgar Allen Poe, and just like teens of anytime/anywhere, every absolute thing is cosmically connected and significant -- especially for the ones who are in love with each other, which they all seem to be. For a special St. Valentine's Day outing, the young women on the verge are taken to Hanging Rock. Four of the girls -- including the ethereal class knockout Miranda -- head up the mysterious rock for a somnambulant odyssey and disappear. The rest of the film explores our desperate need for understanding, closure, and the possibility that sometimes, some things just can't be explained. Or maybe they can. And if not explained, then at least linked to something sexy (Thank you, Dr. Freud!). Where were the girls led? What or who led them there? What happened when they got there? Why did they (gasp!) take their stockings off? The soundtrack, featuring the work of a pan flute master by the name of Zamfir, adds an extra toot of delicious creepiness, piping each time the enigmatic rock is shown.

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