Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Criterion Holiday: Picnic at Hanging Rock

At last, a Valentine's Day Film without rape, on-screen murder and/or Necrophilia.  Hurray!  Today's film is Picnic at Hanging Rock, a movie recommended to me by Maynard (of his titular Horror Movie Diary).  For once, he didn't lead me to something horrific.  It's about time, right?  This Film comes to us from Peter Weir, a man who's work I haven't featured before.  That's not to say that I haven't watched one of his works, because I have.  Awhile back, I rented and planned to review The Last Wave.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be too good for me to really get anything out of, so I skipped it.  I wish I had that problem more often.  This Film is also quite good and I was on the fence about it...but why not cover something good on purpose?  It only seems fair.  The Film tells the tale of some girls who go missing on a class outing and the effect it has on a small town.  It is quite visually-striking and dream-like at times.  I can't complain too much, so let's just dive right in...
Hey movie- no SPOILERS.  I kid, I kid.
At a prestigious School, the girls prepare for a trip to Hanging Rock on the Day of St. Valentine.
After awhile, some weird stuff starts to happen.  Everyone's pocket watches stop and four girls go up the Rock...never to return!
It becomes a big issue which gets the attention of the whole area, country and even the World!  This confounds the Police and upsets the natural order of the Elites.
Two young men who saw the missing girls and Teacher before they vanished keep looking long after others have stopped.  One takes it very personally, as you can see.
Lots of personal problems arise at the School as the Head Mistress starts to break down, the French Teacher tries to keep things straight and one Student- absent from the trip- continues to offend the Mistress for no clear reason.
Things get better and worse when one of the girls reappears after more than a week...but has no memory of what happened.  Needless to say, the other Students don't act happy about this!
As thing continue to spiral downhill, the Head Mistress actually kills the girl she's had problems with...
...and commits suicide at Hanging Rock.  The unresolved.  The End.
A nice, pretty and bleak Film.  I will say this: this is an absolutely well-made Film.  It is easy to see why it is part of the Criterion Collection.  Armageddon- not so much!  The Film has a unique feel to it, capturing that dream-like quality which is harder to achieve than people think.  Weir absolutely nails it here!  The Acting is quite genuine and natural as well.  The Film is so chock full of nature footage that it actually credits a guy for just shooting that stuff!  You want classy Music?  This actually features a tune by Zamfir!  I can't complain about the quality of the film one bit.  So why don't I love this alot?  Well, it is bleak.  It is quite unique to not give an answer to the mystery...but that also means that you get no closure.  I suppose that's the point.  I kind of want to know though.  Is that so wrong?  I don't think so.  The Story is a bit slow-paced, but never really boring.  The darker and darker turns that it takes make it one of those Films that I respect more than I like.  Is it weird that I find things to like about trashy Films and reasons not to like good Films?  I guess.  That's just how I'm wired, I guess.  I can't take anything away from this Film- I just don't love it.  It is absolutely well-made, well-acted and pretty to look at though.  In contrast, here's an obviously fake mustache...
Next up, I cover a Rifftrax movie so goofy that I can't help but cover it.  What has Aliens, Rednecks and a Whip Master?  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. You're really weird ;-) but I admit: this isn't exactly an easy watch.