On a St. Valentine’s Day at the turn of the century, a party of girls from a strict boarding school go on an outing to Hanging Rock, a geological outcropping not far from their school. Part of the group vanish inexplicably.
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Deep in the heart of hanging rock there are impenetrable mysteries; mysteries of unknown pleasures and dangers and understandings not yet discovered by the young women who get lost their. It’s a film of elusiveness and mysticism, with an always out of reach/out of sight truth just beyond the next corner and crag of the rock and of the movie. It’s beautiful and haunting and unknowable.
A melancholic masterpiece, a film that provides us with a harrowing story and juxtaposes it with a beautiful setting, soothing but powerful pan pipe music and an eery, almost dreamlike atmosphere. A sensational picture.
This film has loads more intelligence than it suggests in the first 20 minutes or so. The power in the film comes from all the varied themes hinted at and not necessarily the mystery of what happens to the girls but the effects their disappearance has on the rest of the characters. You may not have any answers at the end, but it remains disturbing as long as you think about it and stays in your consciousness.
The shot at the 25-minute mark, where the upturned camera steadily pans around while the music rises forebodingly, abandoning the girls to drift along branches and sunbeams, only to return and catch them retreating further up the path, is a great example of how powerful the first 3rd is. That the rest ISN'T, that instead, like Edith, it's seen as lesser after the miracle passes, isn't a bug. It's a feature.
It's bad enough the first 4 minutes are the most beautiful, relaxing sequence I care to watch over & over, but there is so much inside of this simply strewn, quiet film. The symbolism and simplicity are what make it truly unique. I can barely breathe during some of these scenes either out of happiness or calm. Pay attention to this.
One should notice that the volcanic nature of Hanging Rock echoes with the fierce passion brimming inside the hearts of the young, nubile students that somehow managed to answer its call. Perhaps it is this passion -that awoke like melting lava and coalesced with its surroundings- the poetic key to understand this enchanting, magnificent and yet utterly tragic film.
I've watched this years ago like maybe two or three times, liked how breathtaking & mysterious the film was. It was, however, hard to follow a little (currently got some mixed reviews today) so perhaps I do need to re-watch this seriously. Great opening sequence, by the way.
[Spoilers] A film not so much about disappearance as shrinking; the loss of cosy certainties and the loss of the centrality of people in the universe -in short, our diminution in the cosmos. But how else to explain the uncertainty of the modern age than unresolved disappearance; a void of reason that can be filled only with questions, in other words, the antithesis of finality, and death?