I recently had the pleasure of seeing two of Peter Weir’s beautiful early films. Weir is an Australian director who is probably best known today for “Dead Poet’s Society” and “The Truman Show”. His film “The Last Wave” is an apocalyptic thriller involving aboriginal lore which I caught on the solstice. That film didn’t grab my interest until halfway through but was much loved by its finale. “The Last Wave” prompted me to watch “Picnic at Hanging Garden”, an earlier film of Weir’s. The visually stunning images from the cover and booklet art particularly lured me in. I was pleasantly surprised to find the film more and more to be an exploration of the Venusian mysteries.
The main events of the film take place on Valentine’s day, starting with beautiful girls in white flowing and lacy outfits preparing at the college, with valentines, poetry, romantic intrigue between two of the girls, and numerous object of beauty. Most of them go on a trip to a million year old volcanic formation called Hanging Rock with their mannerisms and speech brimming with feminine mystery, intriguing two boys picnicking nearby. The rock causes the watch to stop of one of their head mistresses, who believes it is due to magnetic disturbance. Another lady, glancing at a book of Botticelli paintings (opened to Venus) says something strange about the main figure of intrigue, Miranda, calling her a “Botticelli angel”, while the three girls follow Miranda up and up the rock, until 3 of them are barefoot climbing higher and unresponsive to the heavy unattractive one of them who freaks out and screams running down from the rock.
That is where the mystery truly begins, as the girls in some sort of sexual excitement trot up the rock and truly disappear. I would rather not give away all the plot points, but needless to say there are other points of contact with Venus and much to be appreciated in this film. The beauty, sensuality, romanticism, mystery, and incommensurability showcased in the film all lead me to conclude that it is one of the most Venusian pieces of cinema to have ever been made. Those looking for a taste of the essence of Venus, look no further than “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and its Venusian savior, Miranda.