Road Rash Reviews

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) 4K Review*****

Cert 12 | 107 mins | 2023

5 star glorious restoration of an Australian classic.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is an Australian mystery/thriller originally released in 1975. Based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Joan Lindsay, it is adapted for screenplay by Cliff Green (Power Without Glory) and was an early work by now legendary director Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World).

It has enjoyed a 4K restoration by The Grainery, USA and Fixafilm, Poland, approved by both the director of photography Russell Boyd and the director Pete Weir and is available now in the UK courtesy of Second Sight Films.

“What we see and what we seem are but a dream. A dream within a dream…”

It’s St. Valentine’s Day, 1900 and the girls of Appleyard College (a strict preparatory school) are getting ready for the day and preparing for an exciting event, a picnic. Mrs Appleyard (Rachel Roberts – Murder on the Orient Express) is allowing them out for the day to study the nearby geological marvel Hanging Rock in preparation for an essay. The only girl forced to remain behind is orphan Sara (Margaret Nelson – Death Cell) who needs to concentrate on her studies.

Under the care of Miss McGraw (Vivean Gray – The Last Wave, Neighbours), who turns out to be something of a geology expert and Mam’selle (Helen Morse – Caddie, A Town Like Alice), their governess, they set off with Mr Hussell (Martin Vaughan – Billy and Percy) at the reins. They find and settle into the nearby picnic area and relax in the sunshine. Meanwhile not far away, another couple are also enjoying the scenery, with their nephew Michael (Dominic Guard – Gandhi, Absolution) and stablehand Albert (John Jarratt – Wolf Creek, Rogue).

After lunch, Marion (Jane Vallis – Daily at Dawn) requests to be allowed to take some measurements at the base of the rock, along with Miranda (Anne-Louise Lambert – The Draughtsman Contract) and Irma (Karen Robson). This agreed and girls head off, reluctantly allowing Edith (Christine Schuler) to tag along with them. They are all enjoying themselves and everyone settles down for a nap. When they awaken, Edith comes screaming into the camp and the rest of the girls as well as Miss McGraw are nowhere to be found. Search parties commence and the local community and the school must come to terms with this terrible event.

“Once again let me remind you that the rock itself is extremely dangerous and you are therefore forbidden any tomboy foolishness in the matter of exploration, even on the lower slopes. “

Picnic at Hanging Rock has long been viewed as one of Australia’s most influential films and this release helps to bring out its full potential, with the 4K restoration really showcasing the amazing landscapes and the dramatic eponymous rock formation. The haunting score, with it’s pan pipes and whimsical piano music adds atmosphere to an already mesmeric film.

Rich with symbolism and thought provoking on many levels, this film takes a long hard look at the divide between local cultures and beliefs, and outsiders or invaders and examines the ways in which that can go wrong, reminiscent of Walkabout.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, this film is a mystery that was never meant to be solved, rather it is an experience as we wonder, along with all the other girls who were present, what really happened on that fateful afternoon. Packed with special features, this is a great title and well worth adding to your collection.

“Why can’t we just sit on this log and look at the ugly old rock from here? It’s nasty here! I never thought it would be so nasty or I wouldn’t have come!”

Picnic at Hanging Rock is available to buy now on Limited Edition 4K UHD/Blu-ray and Standard Edition Blu-ray.

Special Features 

  • A new Second Sight Films 4K scan and restoration from the original camera negative supervised and approved by Director Peter Weir and Director of Photography Russell Boyd
  • Dual format 4-disc set featuring 2 UHDs and 2 Blu-rays
  • UHDs presented in HDR
  • Includes restorations of the Director’s Cut and original Theatrical Cut
  • Audio commentary by film academics Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Josh Nelson
  • A Lovely Day for a Picnic: a new interview with Actor Karen Robson
  • Finding the Light: a new interview with Director of Photography Russell Boyd
  • Crashing Through Boundaries: a new interview with Camera Operator John Seale
  • Something Beyond Explanation: Thomas Caldwell on Picnic at Hanging Rock
  • A Dream within a Dream feature length documentary
  • An interview with Joan Lindsay
  • Recollection: Hanging Rock 1900
  • Outtakes
  • Original long trailer

Limited Edition Contents

  • Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Thinh Dinh
  • Soft cover book with new essays by Daniel Bird, Kat Ellinger and Justine Smith, archive essay by Rebecca Harkins-Cross, Costume Gallery, feature on the original marketing of the film and the new restoration.
  • The original novel with exclusive cover by Thinh Dinh
  • 6 collectors’ art cards 
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DirectorPeter Weir
AuthorJoan Lindsay
GenreMystery, thriller
StarringAnne-Louise Lambert, Rachel Roberts, Vivean Gray
Available to buy on : Own Picnic at Hanging Rock (Limited Edition) 4K UHD on Blu-Ray
Category: 4K, Blu-ray, film, Review