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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dream Within A Dream Film For Movie Buffs
Originally released in 1975, this classic film has finally been restored as a Directors Cut. This 3 Disc set is an absolute delight for movie buffs everywhere.

Both versions are available on this set, the original version can be found on Disc 2. It is the slightly longer of the two versions, looks as though it was shot in soft focus which may enhance the...
Published on 28 Oct 2008 by E. A. Redfearn

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Directors Cut (to bits).
I always loved the film Picnic at Hanging Rock, but Peter Weir seems to be spending time with George Lucas and changing and cutting his films, all this does is shorten it and lessen the impact of the girls loss as well as sidelining more of the other characters, the ending now feels rushed as if they have lost confidence in the audience (maybe he shortened it for the...
Published 2 months ago by hugh


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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dream Within A Dream Film For Movie Buffs, 28 Oct 2008
By 
E. A. Redfearn "eredfearn2" (Middlesbrough) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Picnic At Hanging Rock - Deluxe 3 Disc Edition [1975] [DVD] (DVD)
Originally released in 1975, this classic film has finally been restored as a Directors Cut. This 3 Disc set is an absolute delight for movie buffs everywhere.

Both versions are available on this set, the original version can be found on Disc 2. It is the slightly longer of the two versions, looks as though it was shot in soft focus which may enhance the haunting qualities of the film, is shown as a cropped 1:66 image; and has a Dolby Digital 2 Channel soundtrack.

On Disc 1 is the Directors Cut, 8 minutes shorter, with a much sharper print; shown in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and has a 5:1 or a 2:0 Audio soundtrack depending on which sound system the viewer is using.

On Disc 3 is a movie buff's dream of a treasure chest of extras. These extras(there are eight extras altogether which will keep fans and movie buffs busy for hours) are worth the price of this box set alone, for they are extremely revealing with loads of information about "The Making Of". . . . interviews with some of the cast, the director Peter Weir and the producer, and as an extra bonus, interviews with the beautiful Anne-Louise Lambert who portrays Miranda, one of the girls who goes missing. Indeed, it is her face which adorns the box set and I can say in all honesty, that Peter Weir's decision to give her the part of Miranda when it was originally set for another actress, was a master stroke.

The music score which enhances the mystical atmosphere of the film is provided by composer Bruce Smeaton, and the Flute De Pan played by Gheorghe Zamfir. This is one of the most haunting movie scores ever created.

For many years, many people who saw the film believed it to be based on a true story. This may be because of the credit at the beginning of the film which explains what happened one Valentine's Day when some school girls and a teacher went missing at Hanging Rock and were never seen again. Joan Lindsay who wrote the novel explained that it was up to the viewer to make up his or her own mind about whether it did actually happen. My own view is, it is purely fiction, but the mystery of what actually happened at Hanging Rock is a fascinating one and it is just a story, and a clever one at that.

Peter Weir's eye for detail is apparant here for there is one outstanding scene here which is one of the most haunting I have ever seen in a film. And that is the shot of the entire party sat around at the base of the rock itself, just resting in the shadows. Still like, eerie, it is a beautiful shot.

There is no doubt it is a masterpiece of Australian cinema and deserves to be amongst the all time greats of modern cinema.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Australia's finest on a great Blu-ray, at last!, 15 Aug 2010
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I've always loved this film, and even had it on video many years ago. I bought the 3 disc dvd set of this the other year and was delighted with what was a huge step up in terms of quality of course, plus it also had the director's cut and also a disc of fascinating extras. The packaging for that release was very good as well so I was perfectly happy with what I had, and was in no rush to get this new Blu-ray version, especially so soon. After all, some Blu-ray transfers offer no great improvement and leave people rightly disappointed and feeling ripped-off. But I took the plunge anyway, after reading some glowing reviews in the press.

So when it arrived my initial thoughts for this new release were those of disappointment - the packaging was as simple as a Blu-ray can be, it had no booklet and just the one disc, and not even a cellophane wrapper for the dvd case - and that's not a great start. The reason for the solitary disc is that the original-length version of the film, which runs about six or seven minutes longer, is not included here so that's why there's only one. Normally that would annoy me but in this case I don't mind at all because the newer director's version does work as a better film, I think. It flows more, and keeps the theme more at the front.

But above all that, this is a must-have Blu-ray because of the work that's been done on the print. This hi-def version holds colours and warmth which, when compared directly to last year's dvd (by playing them both at the same time) are just magnificent and make the dvd's imagery look so dull and plain! It's only now I realise how much a Blu-ray can improve on a dvd, especially a dvd which I felt looked superb and didn't need improving - but how wrong I was! You expect things to improve on Blu-ray, but I was stunned by the contrast here. The film is now glorious, lush and even more dreamy, the clarity has risen to the surface and suddenly vague background details are pin-sharp, ones which I never even knew were there before! You can almost feel the soft morning sunshine in Miranda's room, then the stifling midday heat at the rock and the heady, close breezes drifting around the cramped stone passages. It really is THAT good.

There's also an extra bit of width to the film, so I'm not sure if we're yet at the correct ratio compared to the original cinema release. Should this be 16:9 or is there a 2.35:1 yet to come? The cinematography and landscape are both used superbly throughout so I'd say the wider it can be, the better.

So if you already have this on dvd, I'd strongly recommend that you retire that copy and step up to the stunning beauty of this film on Blu-ray. It's worth every penny. And if you've never seen the film, please don't hesitate, just go ahead and order it. Aussie films rarely see the light of day anywhere else in the world, and this one has been flying their flag with justifiable pride for decades.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Languid and Sensual Masterpiece - Restored!!, 17 Jun 2008
By 
Mr. D. J. Underwood "Excessional" (Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Picnic At Hanging Rock - Deluxe 3 Disc Edition [1975] [DVD] (DVD)
I experienced a keen sense of anticipation when I first read that this edition was going to be released (if that doesn't sound too nerdy!). I was a young teen when I first saw this film when it debuted on British tv. Perhaps it was because I was at an impressionable age what with the constant images of (largely) beautiful young ladies dressed in white against the dramatic and foreboding backdrop of a strange and alien landscape. Certainly the film made an impression that has stayed with me since.

The plot as such is that on a school valentines day outing in the year 1900 to Hanging Rock (in Australia), three pupils and a teacher mysteriously disappear. Search parties are organised and one pupil is found though she has no memory of what happened. Meanwhile the school and authorities have to try and deal with both their own sense of loss and the unwelcome attention this tragedy brings especially as there are no answers as to what happened.

The story outline though does not serve justice to the brooding presence of Hanging Rock itself - a natural rock formation that is filmed in such a way as to be as important as any of the characters and dominates over the entire film as a mysterious and malevalent landscape. The musical use of panpipes heightens this moodpiece.

This new edition on dvd is particularly welcome as, when I bought my current version dvd a few years ago, I had a memory of a couple of scenes that now seemed to be missing. I still had a VHS recording off the tv of the film so scanned through it and I was right - Michael's growing friendship with Irma, the rescued girl, had all but disappeared and (spoiler alert!) so had the scene whereby Mrs Appleyard went into Sara's room at night and took some things, suggestive as this was before it was discovered that Sara had killed herself! And of course in this set we have two versions - the original film and the edited Directors Cut. Having watched them both, the original (longer) version is still the better film (imo) although the print quality is not quite as good - though to be honest, neither film is pristine surprisingly.

The final icing on the cake though are the extras as my previous dvd had none (I don't count 'Scene Access' as a special feature even if the dvd case does!) These include a few interviews and featurettes but the main attaction is a near 2-hr Making Of which is quite informative, providing anecdotes and interviews on most aspects of the film and the actors. So what better reason do we need to own this extraordinary film.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Languorous, mysterious, ambiguous, 8 Jun 2010
This review is from: Picnic At Hanging Rock - Deluxe 3 Disc Edition [1975] [DVD] (DVD)
I was first introduced to this film via Film4 and it is now up there with my top 10 favourite films. I turned the television on at exactly the right time and place: at the very moment the four girls began to climb Hanging Rock. I was immediately drawn under its spell as the girls were, falling for those unforgettable panpipes and the haunting, dreamlike atmosphere. And I can honestly say that the moment when three of the girls walked in a trance through a crack in the rock while Edith screamed at them to stop left me utterly terrified, and I had trouble sleeping that night.

The eerie and unexplainable disappearance of Miranda, Irma and Marion comes quite near the beginning of the film and the rest of it details the investigations into the vanishing and the effects on the people involved. The pace is decidedly slow but this works in its favour, helping to build an air of mystery that is sustained throughout the rest of the film. What makes it so marvellous is that Peter Weir has completely neglected from "solving" the puzzle as other films would have done: did the girls simply fall down a hole? Or were their supernatural forces at work? Why is so much attention focused on the ethereal Miranda? Why does she seem so in tune to the Rock itself? Clues are scattered throughout the film and it is entirely up to the viewer to piece them together...perhaps the girls did step through a time portal, perhaps they disturbed a primeval Aboriginal spirt, perhaps Miranda is an embodiment of Venus.

Visually the film is exquisite, shot in dreamy soft focus that mimics the haze of a summer afternoon, bathed in heavenly golden sunlight. The ascension up the Rock is probably the most memorable and beautiful scene, with its use of slow motion and blurry crossfades set to the panpipes that set your hair on end. The overall impression is that the entire film is a dream, as reflected by the first spoken words: "What we see, and what we seem, are but a dream, a dream within a dream". The acting is faultless and has some star performances, notably Rachel Roberts as the deteriorating principal of Appleyard College where the girls attended school and Margaret Nelson as the waifish, melancholy Sara (whose strong affection for Miranda gives people reason to the label the film as "a film about lesbians"). And who can write a review of this film without forgetting Anne-Louise Lambert, whose beautiful portrayal of Miranda has become iconic.

It's fairly safe to say that there aren't many other films like this one. Though the only other Weir film I've seen is The Truman Show, I would call this his masterpiece. Luckily I left off buying the film until this particular edition was released which includes both the Director's Cut and the original Theatrical Cut (interestingly the interviews on the DVD reveal that some of the stars were unhappy with Weir's cutting-down of the Theatrical Cut as it removed several big scenes). However as the version I had recorded off Film4 was the Theatrical Cut I was not overly bothered, but the extras on this DVD are a fantastic reason to buy. The documentary included, well over 90 minutes long, covers every aspect of production and even shows a few scenes not present in either releases such as Mrs Appleyard's visit to the Rock, but unfortunately they are voiced over.

This is a film I will never tire of. I urge anyone to buy or rent purely out of curiosity!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Director's Cut is better!, 30 July 2010
By 
I. R. Barnes "*technobabble*" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This beautiful and haunting film leaves you genuinely stirred by its mystery. It was the film that introduced me to Weir who is now one of my favourite directors. It had such an impact on me when I first saw it many years ago and even to this day it still has the power to move and fascinate me. Based on the novel by Joan Lindsay Weir imbues the film with a surreal almost dream-like quality, with a haunting music score and spectacular cinematography, it features several spine-tingling moments. Hanging Rock itself has a malevolent presence in the film, particularly the opening credit sequence where it is slowly revealed through mist like an evil ancient force of nature. The film is more ambiguous than Lindsay's novel about what really happened to the girls on the rock and it's better for it, refusing to provide the audience with an explanation, leaving it completely open to interpretation.

Weir's Director's Cut of the film has caused some controversy with fans due to the removal of several scenes but I personally think it is far superior to the original release. The removed scenes, although very well acted and beautifully shot like the rest of the film, are unecessary despite what others say, removing sub-plots and scenes that detract from the focus of the film. The Director's Cut is far more instense.

One of my favourite movies by one of my favourite directors now gets a superb Blu-Ray release, taking the excellent 3-Disc Deluxe Edition DVD to the next level. The picture and sound quality of this classic film has never been better!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weir cut is shorter........be warned!!, 24 July 2010
By 
David Orme "Fantasy Forever." (Sydney Australia.) - See all my reviews
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When Peter Weir restored this title for dvd, he actually made it shorter, by roughly 7 minutes(that's gotta be a first, a restored cut that's SHORTER!)If you are expecting a longer version, sadly this is not the case here, even though you would expect the Blu-ray to be complete, that aside, what's left is dazzlling to the eye,no doubt, a beautiful transfer throughout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Directors Cut (to bits)., 22 Jan 2014
By 
hugh (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I always loved the film Picnic at Hanging Rock, but Peter Weir seems to be spending time with George Lucas and changing and cutting his films, all this does is shorten it and lessen the impact of the girls loss as well as sidelining more of the other characters, the ending now feels rushed as if they have lost confidence in the audience (maybe he shortened it for the short attention span brigade). Before they ruin the things people love these directors should at least consider releaseing both versions in hi-def so we could at least choose. As I say I love picnic at Hanging rock but this isn't it. Still gets two stars for the beginning though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly rated, 30 July 2013
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This review is from: Picnic At Hanging Rock - Deluxe 3 Disc Edition [1975] [DVD] (DVD)
A very beautiful film with haunting music - a real classic from a few years ago. Highly recommended to future purchasers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original cinema at its best..., 19 July 2013
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This review is from: Picnic At Hanging Rock - Deluxe 3 Disc Edition [1975] [DVD] (DVD)
Some films just stand out from the crowd - this is one. In case you're wondering which others are worthy of such lofty praise I'm talking about those movies that only come along every now and again. Movies which are 'outstanding', of any time, of any genre, and judged not only by such things as the sharpness of script, narrative invention, sparkling acting etc, but a magical, almost mythical ingredient. When everything gels you get movies like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The Godfather, Fargo, Blue Velvet, Life of Brian, The Sound of Music.

It is difficult to home in on the specific ingredients of this film which make it special, but its 'magical ingredient, if found, would be liberally sprinkled on many other movies I'm sure. Each of the films mentioned before generate a special atmosphere, a certain something that grabs you from the start and compels you to keep watching. Picnic At Hanging Rock does just that. A beautifully constructed film in every way and a masterpiece of cinema.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very creepy, if truncated, dark fairy tale, 27 Jan 2013
By 
Inspector Gadget "Go Go Gadget Reviews" (On the trail of Doctor Claw) - See all my reviews
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Before Peter Weir became a well-known Hollywood director he started out with a series of short Australian movies and smaller feature films. The most famous of these would have to be Picnic at Hanging Rock, an ethereal, dreamlike adaptation of Joan Lindsay's ultimately unfinished book. The final chapter, and resolution to the mystery, was cut from the novel and published years after Linday's death, so Weir, and screenwriter Cliff Green, basically adapted an incomplete book, creating, in essence, an incomplete movie.

On Valentine's Day 1900 the girls of an uppity private college are taken on a day out to titular rock, a foreboding, gloomy outcrop baking in mid-summer heat. Four of the girls separate from the group and go exploring, drawn to the summit in a seemingly hypnotic state. As the rest of the gang pass out at the base of the rock, one of their teachers (none other than Mrs. Mangel herself) follows. Three of the girls, and their teacher vanish into thin air, leaving the moaning fat chick to come screaming back down the rock.

The community reacts with anguish and determination to find the missing girls. A local rich boy and his servant go searching for them at any cost, also falling victim to the rock's inexplicable lure. Meanwhile the Headmistress of the college struggles to maintain her integrity under increasing media attention (yes, even in 1900).

For a movie set in almost perpetual bright sunlight PAHR is extremely dark. The ominous, deeply sinister sound design draws your eyes to the screen and hooks you. The rock has the ability to hold the characters, and the viewer, in a trance-like state and the mystery is amplified through silence and subterfuge. There is a vital piece of the puzzle that is never explicitly said by the characters, especially after one of the missing girls suddenly reappears, her trance not yet broken.

Russell Boyd's photography captures the sunshine of Victoria in such a way that you can actually feel the warmth coming from the screen, and fills may shots with a vignetting effect which would otherwise look cheap, but instead adds to the dream-like atmosphere of the film.

The final chapter of Linday's novel (Chapter 18) deals with time travel and suspended animation, which ties in with the clocks freezing at exactly 12 noon. I'm not exactly sure how the movie would have turned out had this been published from day one, but it certainly would have been anti-climax. Or...maybe not.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is a film that would give David Lynch nightmares.

The Blu-ray features a lovely 1.78:1 1080p picture with a good DTS HD-MA sound design. There are a decent amount of extras.
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