Director Peter Weirs’ classic experimental film, ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ (1975), allures us into a world of haunting and mysterious happenings within the Appleyard College of Young Ladies, a prestigious all-girls boarding school based in Australia. The storyline is based upon the investigation of the unexplained disappearance of three students and their teacher during an afternoon field trip to the Hanging Rock landmark, causing the viewers to remain in a constant state of questioning. In addition to the endless plot keeping us on edge, Russell Boyd’s direction of photography captivates us with a mesmerizing vision of color and emotion from one scene to the next.
Peter Weir is an auteur for constructing dreamlike hallucinatory scenarios around his characters, and when one climbs the Hanging Rock, an uncanny sensation of delusion and strong supernatural magnetic force overcomes the characters, creating a somewhat demonic otherworldly experience. There is a strong sense of geo-politics Weir incorporates in ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ as the strongest point of supernatural magnetic force is only to be experienced within the oldest landmark of the town.
On a visual standpoint, we are able to grasp the moral sense of certain characters according to the coloring of cinematography. The sense of innocence and wonder within the girls of Appleyard College correlates with the lightness and purity of coloring of cinematography, and, in many scenes focused upon the headmistress, Mrs. Appleyard, the lighting of the scene darkens and the hues deepen into a dark romantic mystery.
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