Picnic at Hanging Rock

Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 37


Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,418
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Movie Info

Peter Weir's breakthrough Australian drama about three girls and a teacher who disappear during a school outing.

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Critic Reviews for Picnic at Hanging Rock

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Picnic at Hanging Rock

  • Jul 13, 2018
    Director Peter Weir creates a dreamy feeling to this mystery of the disappearance of three schoolgirls and a teacher during a picnic at Hanging Rock, Victoria in 1900, and that's probably the key to really enjoying this film, soaking up its atmosphere. I liked the ambiguity of it all, as well as the little Victorian age touches, communing with nature and reading poetry. However, as a whole, it seemed a bit like a made-for-TV production, amateurish in places, and melodramatic in others. The whole point, of course, is that horror is more intense when it is unseen and unknown, and, like others, I see the film as a forerunner to 'The Blair Witch Project'. It was harder to appreciate moments when character actions seemed illogical or the film left loose ends dangling. It's telling to me that the original book explained the events in a very silly way (google it), but author Joan Lindsay's editor had that chapter removed. The film is entertaining, but it didn't live up to its acclaim for me.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2016
    Peter Weir's beautiful 1975 mystery "Picnic at Hanging Rock" is a majestic tour-de-force like nothing else Weir would ever make in the future. At the center of the story is the strange disappearance of three schoolgirls and their math teacher from the Appleyard College for Girls in Victoria, Austrailia, and the reverberating effect it has on the school, the girls and the community afterwards. Through the whole film the strange and alluring rock formation called Hanging Rock that was formed more than a million years ago hovers over the characers and its mysteries baffle everyone in the film. As one girl puts it, Hanging Rock "has been waiting a million years, just for us." It's St. Valentine's Day and the girls are going on a picnic to celebrate. As if a bit of foreshadowing for what will come, before they leave the school the beautiful and amiable Miranda (Anne-Louise Lambert) tells Sara (Margaret Nelson) that she won't be there too much longer. Sara hasn't many friends, she's an orphan and Mrs. Appleyard (Rachel Roberts) doesn't like her much and forces her to stay behind in order to learn Felicia Hemans poetry. While at the picnic, strange things start to happen like the watches of some of the characters stopping. Miranda and three other girls decide to go up the rock. What happens the further up you go on these rocks is a mystery throughout the entire film. The camera always looks up at the faces of these rock formations as it cuts to looking down at the people trying to make sense and climb up it. It may be frustrating to some people to never receive any closure to the disappearances of the girls and teacher. Hauntingly hypnotic music taunts the viewers when the rock formation is at the center of the scenes. A young Englishman named Michael Fitzhubert (Dominic Guard) is questioned because he saw the girls before their journey up the rock. At first he doesn't mention that he followed them for awhile. This turns out problematic when Sgt. Bumpher (Wyn Roberts) in a exchange with Michael hints at sexual assault after a revelation that Mrs. McCraw (Vivien Grey) was seen going up the rock in just her underwear. This prompts Michael to recruit the help of his valet Albert (John Jarratt) who agrees. After Albert leaves Michael overnight he returns the next day to see him injured but a piece of cloth in his hand. After returning Michael to safety Albert returns to the rock and finds one of the girls. The disappearance causes some extreme hardships for Mrs. Appleyard. Suddenly she's losing money because parents are taking their young girls out of the school. This causes her to be extremely hard on Sara leading to devestating consequences. The film is based on the novel by Joan Lindsey who had a final chapter that resolves the story but it was taken out at the suggestion of her editor. Later that final chapter would be released pothusmously. Nothing underlies this film more than sexual hysteria and the possibility of sexual abuse against the girls. The girl returning is missing her corset but it's not repeated to the sergeant because it's unnecessary information. This is a great film that acts and thinks like a horror film without all the gore and shocks in favor of a simple structure and unresolved story.
    Joseph B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 01, 2014
    The unexplained 1900 Valentine's Day disappearance of four schoolgirls and a teacher affects the residents and neighbors of an all-girl college in Australia. This gauzy meditation on sexual repression and loss can have a hypnotic effect on those susceptible to its mysterious moods, while others find it an inconclusive bore. Both sides have an argument, but in general the good here outweighs the bland.
    Greg S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 23, 2012
    One of the most notorious mystery film for it's unique- mystery not being resolved plot. Another film about the conflict between the British settlers and the aboriginal people. The editing was horrible, but the story itself provided the haunting beauty and deep symbolism. Honest to God, some actress were way too old to play school girls. The sexual tension within the all girls boarding school was put in juxtaposition with the lurking darkness within the community. It was quite a good film to watch however, there were many flaws.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer

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