¨¨¨°º the adventures of choklit chanteuse º°¨¨¨



2.26.2008

Everything Begins and Ends...

Last night I watched Picnic at Hanging Rock, an Australian period thriller from 1975. If slow, atmospheric, moody films are your cup of tea, this one should win your heart.

Director Peter Weir treats us to lush oddly-angled and layered shots of the outback landscape, a haunting pan-flute-and-organ-heavy soundtrack, and loads of simmering repressed Victorian adolescent girl sensuality (with a nod to the slightly-baggy-woolen-stocking fetishists... oh, such stockings will you see). You can almost feel the heat rising from the rocks... and the languid girls...

Fortunately the beauty of the cinematography and the charisma of the dewey actresses overshadows the Victorian costumes à la Gunne Sax that pin the look as mid-seventies.


But it was the open end that kept me thinking about the film long after the credits. The movie teased us with vague possible explanations, but gave no resolution to the central mystery. Why is our need to have stories tied up in neat little packages by the end so powerful?

I discovered the original book was written with eighteen chapters, and the final chapter solved the mystery, but the author decided to remove it at the last minute. The eighteenth chapter was published twenty years later in response to demand from the public for closure to the story.

Of course I was unable to resist searching for a spoiler, and of course I was disappointed in the resolution, which was silly and unlikely, and nowhere near as moving and evocative as the open end.

When will I learn? Some stories are better left unresolved. As Miranda, the central character in the film, says, "Everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place..."

4 comments:

SpicyBrowngirl said...

How eloquent. I will have to catch the film now. Oddly enough, my mother swathed my sister and I in Gunne Sax for piano recitals, Easter, graduations, etc. Eventually, the dresses were shipped off to the Philippines for some other girl to fancy herself a proper Lady from another time.

Carl V. said...

That was certainly a perfect line in regards to the film and published novel version vs. the eighteenth chapter ending, wasn't it? I watched this for the first time last night and found it to be very moody and suspenseful and fun. It was very much a 70s film, which is unfortunate or fortunate depending on your view of that decade. It was so beautifully shot and the music was haunting. I would prefer it to have looked a little less 70s but overall it didn't affect my viewing of the film. I'm so glad I saw this on your site a couple of weeks back...and oddly enough had another person mention it in an email the exact same day! Very fun experience!

. c h o k l i t . said...

Wow, Carl - how impressed am I that a post in my archives was not only read, but encouraged you to rent the film!! Serendipitous that someone else mentioned it to you... and I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Perhaps time for me to post another film review... Hmm...

Carl V. said...

I couldn't believe how weird that was. I found your site because of a comment you left on mine, did a search through your archives, saw this and moved it into the top spot on Netflix, went to work and got an email from today's interviewee in which she mentions Picnic at Hanging Rock as one of her favorite movies. I mean what are the odds?