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Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)



Average Rating: 8.3/10
Reviews Counted: 31
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 2

Visually mesmerizing, Picnic at Hanging Rock is moody, unsettling, and enigmatic -- a masterpiece of Australian cinema and a major early triumph for director Peter Weir.


Average Rating: 9.7/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 1

Visually mesmerizing, Picnic at Hanging Rock is moody, unsettling, and enigmatic -- a masterpiece of Australian cinema and a major early triumph for director Peter Weir.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 9,763

My Rating

Movie Info

Peter Weir's haunting and evocative mystery is set in the Australia of 1900, a mystical place where the British have attempted to impose their Christian culture with such tweedy refinements as a girls' boarding school. After gauzily-photographed, nicely underplayed scenes of the girls' budding sexuality being restrained in Victorian corsets, the uptight headmistress (Rachel Roberts) takes them on a Valentine's Day picnic into the countryside, and several of the girls, led by the lovely Miranda

Oct 20, 1998

South Australian Film

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All Critics (32) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (2) | DVD (7)

Spottily effective.

August 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This horrific tale is told with marvelous shadowy indirection and delicate lyricism.

August 30, 2010 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The result is little more than a discreetly artistic horror film.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The story provides Mr. Weir with material for a kind of Australian horror-romance that recalls Nathaniel Hawthorne's preoccupation with the spiritual and moral heritage of his own New England landscape.

January 15, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A film of haunting mystery and buried sexual hysteria.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the most hauntingly beautiful mysteries ever created on film.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Eerie, haunting film hints at violence and sexuality.

May 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A poetic and enigmatic drama that's a classic of Australian cinema.

August 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4

By turns fascinating and mysterious.

August 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

It's all pretty overheated and underexplained but this arty, vague, and possibly supernatural movie lingers on in the memory.

August 30, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Etched into the Australian consciousness and an iconic film that helps buttress Australian cinema in its claim to international standing

July 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Sem conseguir criar muito clima de suspense ou mistério, Weir depende da recriação das buscas e de uma subtrama envolvendo uma aluna pobre. Ritmo lento, roteiro fraco.

July 25, 2003 | Comments (6)
Cinema em Cena

Visually appealing.

April 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

[An] unsettling, atmospheric film.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

A masterpiece of eerie atmosphere

November 8, 2002
Lawrence Journal-World

The film works at various levels and certainly sparks discussion, as people attempt to figure out what they've just seen.

August 30, 2002 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews

We are left with an uncanny respect for the mysteries in life that can never be solved by logic alone.

March 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice | Comment (1)
Spirituality and Practice

Sleek yet frustrating.

March 22, 2001 Full Review Source:

You will be able to watch it over and over and continue to discover nuances and possibilities that you hadn't seen before

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Enigmatic and poetic, it retains much of its power today.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

The movie is paced so that the tension builds very slowly, making the conclusion all the more shattering.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Deeply unsettling.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Nashville Scene
Nashville Scene

Audience Reviews for Picnic at Hanging Rock

02/11/2012 (DVD)
November 1, 2012

Super Reviewer

Miranda: Everything begins and ends at the exact right time and place. 

"A recollection of evil."

Picnic at Hanging Rock is like nothing you would expect. It has a horror film plot, but it never turns into a horror film. It's haunting, sure, but never terrifying, and I am perfectly fine with that. What the movie is, is a brilliantly subtle piece of filmmaking. The atmosphere during the Hanging Rock scenes is amazing and the cinematography throughout the whole movie is perfect. The movie turns into a realistic missing persons story. Shit happens in this world that will never be explained. This story is told with that belief. Stuff happens, and we will never know the outcome. People are abducted and killed daily and some of them we will never find and we will never completely know the truth about what happened to them. Was it a human being? Was it something otherworldly? Who's to say? That's what this movie is all about.

A group of students at a girls college in 1900 Australia go for a picnic at Hanging Rock. Four students go away from the group and start exploring the rock formations. Even as we watch them, we have no real idea what is going on, as they disappear behind a rock never to be seen again. One student doesn't follow them and makes it back fine. A teacher goes looking for the missing students and is also never seen again. From there, search parties are put out and the girls wonder what happened to their classmates. But you get the sense that everyone knows it is a lost cause.

There's a lot to love if you can stand the extremely slow and eventless pacing of the film. I could to a certain extent, but I found myself, at times, getting very far away from the movie. I couldn't concentrate on the film the whole time, but I could always come back and get right back into the film. With more viewings I think I would like it a lot more. 

This movie kind of reminds me of an event prior to The Blair Witch Project. It's the unexplained that leads people to always want answers, but they never will be able to get them and if they try, they too will become part of the mystery. From everything you hear about this movie, it is weird that once you finally watch it, it is nothing like what you expected. Still, it is as haunting a movie as you could ever wish to see, without ever actually being scared.
December 11, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Hitchcock once said "The terror isn't in the bang but in the anticipation of it". That rang true as far as I'm concerned with Picnic at Hanging Rock. There may not have been a bang but that's kind of the point. The intrigue and suspense in this film is never really uncomfortable, it's often quite alluring but as curious the conclusion may be, you almost don't want to know what really happened. That and the beautiful cinematography, haunting soundtrack and steady pace make this something rather special and unforgettable.
September 26, 2011

Super Reviewer

This movie spooked me out with its haunted story of missing schoolgirls and one of their teachers in the Australian wilderness. There's something inexplicably mysterious and evil at Hanging Rock; I'd be scared to go to the actual location where they made this movie. Peter Weir's film is something special. The scenery is quiet, warm and beautiful at first, but then it turns frightening, like a trap was set off when the girls entered it. Stuck in my mind is the final view of the three girls walking up the path into the rocky opening. The desperate piano and haunting pan pipe music, combined with the low rumbling sound effects really sets the eerie mood. There is something wrong permeating the entire movie, as if it was cursing the viewers. What happened there? The second half of the movie suggests different things, but, as many have said, the more they reveal, the more of a mystery it becomes. Any definite answers or closure would make the movie forgettable. I can see how the Blair Witch Project got some of its ideas here. If those schoolgirls had a camcorder, what would it have captured?
January 9, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Miranda: What we see and what we seem are but a dream - a dream within a dream.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
    1. Constable Jones: There's some questions got answers and some haven't.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
    1. Miranda: Everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Foreign Titles

  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (DE)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (UK)
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