Picnic at Hanging Rock is crap
About a movie where falling into a time warp is the most reasonable explanation of events, as opposed to a something that isn't bullshit.
I think that it's fair to say that for the most part I'm fairly easy going on movies. With a few exceptions, Love Stinks [wp] staring French Stewart for example, I'll find something to enjoy in even the most mediocre film. Rarely does it a film annoy me to the point where I need to blog about how much it annoyed me the very next day.
Last night we watched Picnic at Hanging Rock which Lydia had gotten from the library. I'd heard the name of the film a few times before, mostly in relation to how it influenced the Blair Witch Project [wp], which is especially apt because the novel on which Picnic at Hanging Rock is based is presented as a factual account of events.
This film was no Blair Witch Project. The trouble largely that I had with it was that there seems to be no reason nearly anything happens, things are not explained and nobody in the movie acts in anyway like normal humans would. The movie focuses on three British boarding school girls in Australia who vanish while on a school trip to Hanging Rock, which is basically a big rock. Also vanishing is a school teacher, who either went to look for the girls, killed them or just ran around with her skirt off. That bit is never made clear, nor are any number of things.
Things that reasonably the characters themselves should know, but the author, director or whomever, simply doesn't think we'd care to know. What happens when the Foppy British boy follows the girls before their disappearance? Despite the fact that the girls take an inordinately large number of naps while walking up a moderately steep hill, he never catches up to them and later when he's really the prime suspect in their disappearance his explanation to the police of what happened after he ran after them amounted to him shrugging his shoulders and saying, "Meh".
"Meh" presumabely being the early twentieth century equivalent of "You'll have to ask my lawyer", because the police ask no follow up questions.
Now it can be argued that nothing is ever explained in The Blair Witch Project either, but to a degree that's the point of the movie. The Blair Witch Project is presented one hundred present through "found" footage, and it's more about experiencing what happened to the lost film makers as opposed to finding out what happened. Picnic at Hanging Rock is mostly focused on the aftermath, and the mystery thus an explanation should be presented.
The closest thing to any sort of explanation that we do get is via Wikipedia, which offers us information of an extra chapter cut from the book that offers the solution to the mystery [wp]. The explanation? Oh it's good, especially from a film with no science fiction elements in it what-so-ever.
While exploring Hanging Rock on a picnic trip, the girls experience several incomprehensible phenomena. Driven giddy by some supernatural suggestion of the monolith, they throw their corsets over the cliff. However, the corsets never fall to the bottom and instead hang in space in an impossible fashion. The girls and Miss McCraw notice a mystical "hole in space". Marion, Miranda, and Miss McCraw transform into lizard-like creatures and crawl into a hole in the rock, which another boulder then covers, leaving Irma alone and clawing at the fallen rock.
But wait, the book's readers have a solution which is, sadly, even more realistic and only half as convoluted.
Many readers interpret this to mean that the girls have fallen into a time warp. This is compatible with Lindsay's fascination with clocks and time throughout Picnic at Hanging Rock. It also ties in with the tension between Aboriginal and English Australia that is clear throughout the book. The girls somehow succumbed to a magical, yet natural Australia, and were forever lost to their civilized schoolmates.
Think of how being able to pull in transmogrification, time warps and holes in space are going to really change the mystery genre. Who killed Kennedy? It was probably some kind of Grant Morrison like time bullet. The killer in Psycho wasn't Norman Bates, but a wormhole. Rosebud was a Cylone.
The first commenter to mention anything like magic realism as a defence for this film gets poked in the eye.