Monday, November 24, 2008
When I watched this I believed it was based on a true story, but I wasn't surprised afterwards to find out that that's bullshit. This is a story about a group of schoolgirls in turn-of-the-century Australia who mysteriously vanish one day while at a picnic. And sure, people really do go missing in real life, but not quite like this.
This is an almost Zodiac-esque story, where there are all sorts of tantalizing details, but they never lead to a definitive answer. The girls are last seen ceremonially taking off their shows and hiking up Hanging Rock. A friend sees something terrifying... but what? She can't remember. One of the girls is found a week later, but she can't remember anything either. I guess you'd classify this movie as a drama, but the mystery becomes so tense, unsettling and frightening that much of the film plays like a horror movie. Ambiguity has never been so scary.
This is a great movie, with a lot of rich themes, but I think the ambiguity is the most powerful part. It's about our inability to understand or explain this infinitely complex universe in which we live. One minute the girls are here, the next they are gone, and no one will ever understand why. In the middle of it all is Hanging Rock, which seems like an almost sinister force and sometimes, from some angles, even looks like an enourmous face peering down on the people below. But it's mysteries are unknowable to us, and in the end we are no closer to a solution.