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Picnic at Hanging Rock Film Screening

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by Carolyn Hopping (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
2012 has been dubbed the National Year of Reading, and to celebrate, the State Library of Western Australia will be showing a free series of three movies which have been based on iconic Australian literary works. The first of these, the brooding yet exquisite Picnic at Hanging Rock, will be screened in the library's theatre (situated on the ground floor), on Thursday 21st June at 5.45pm.

State Library of Western Australia, Perth Cultural Precinct.
State Library of Western Australia, Perth Cultural Precinct.

Produced in 1975 by Peter Weir, Picnic at Hanging Rock is frequently credited with spawning a creative renaissance in the Australian movie industry. With its haunting, resonant soundtrack, sumptuous photography and mysterious, metaphysical theme, the movie was to become one of the most critically-acclaimed and popular to be made in Australia.

Originally written by Joan Lindsay, the movie begins at Appleyard College, an exclusive boarding school for young ladies in rural Victoria, on St Valentine's Day, 1900. To celebrate the occasion, the girls (with their chaperones) embark on an excursion to Hanging Rock, a mysterious rock in the bush not far from the school, for a picnic.

While most of their companions slumber during the warm afternoon, a group of four girls and their stern mathematics mistress attempt to ascend the rock: a ramble from which only one returns, dishevelled and incoherent.

As the mystery deepens, the movie traces the search for answers as to the fate of the missing girls. Several themes are explored and elaborated upon throughout the movie: the alienation of the new European settlers amidst the ancient, mysterious land they were attempting to tame, the rigid social divisions of the era, and the moral decay which steadily corrodes the establishment in the wake of the mystery. Despite the colonial settlement's superficial appearance of propriety (as epitomised by Appleyard College), its underlying corrosion becomes increasingly apparent in varying forms: callousness, suspicion, obsessive love, repressed emotion and insanity.

This screening of Picnic at Hanging Rock at the State Library Theatre is a rare opportunity to see this cinematic gem on the big screen, and to appreciate the exquisite craftsmanship which went into its creation.

With free admission, it's a perfect and affordable evening out: one that definitely shouldn't be missed. Please note, that since bookings are not required, it's probably a good idea to turn up early.
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Why? Picnic at Hanging Rock is an Australian classic
When: Thursday, 21st June at 5.45pm
Phone: (08) 9427 3111
Where: The State Library of Western Australia, Perth Cultural Precinct, Northbridge.
Cost: Free
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