"Whether 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' is fact or fiction "my readers must decide for themselves. "As the fateful picnic took place in the year 1900 "and all the characters who appear in this book are long since dead, "it hardly seems important."
Those of you who are familiar with the novel or the film will recognise the above as the preface to Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel Picnic at Hanging Rock. This is a surprisingly late addition to my list of all-time favourite films and favourite books. I recently saw the film for the first time and have not been able to get the lush landscapes, flowing Victorian summer dresses, languid schoolgirl poetry and creeping sense of mystery and foreboding out of my head. In a pattern that I do not usually follow I purchased the book following seeing the film and can honestly say that this is one of those rare cases where the film has captured the essence of the book perfectly to the extent that it has become hard to separate one from the other as I write this, a testament to director Peter Weir.
The story of the disappearance of Miranda, Marion and Irma, students at the elite Appleyard College for affluent young ladies along with their uptight and eccentric schoolmistress from the annual school picnic on February 14th 1900, captivates and mesmerises from the start. As the story unfolds the tension builds palpably amid the dreamy soft focus eeriness of the sprawling Australian landscape.
The several themes and theories of this story which have long since slipped into folklore have been eloquently explored and documented elsewhere on the web. I will leave you with some visual inspiration and a strong recommendation for those who have yet to see/read this story to seek it out, drink it up and enjoy being held captive in this lush, otherworldly experience.