Critics are singing its praises and it's rumoured to be one of the BBC's most eerie series yet — but, what is Picnic at Hanging Rock about? Allow me to fill you in. Originally penned by Australian writer Joan Lindsay in 1967, the novel tells the story behind the mysterious disappearance of three Australian schoolgirls and their governess on Valentine’s Day 1990, and the devastating impact the loss has on those left behind.
The book was first adapted for the big screen in a 1975 film by director Peter Weir. At the time, it was nominated for three BAFTAs, one of which the movie actually won (Best Cinematography). Now, the TV adaptation, starring Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer, is about to premiere on tellies across the UK courtesy of an Amazon/BBC Two miniseries, and it looks like it's going to be lit.
The new six-part drama first aired in the US earlier this year on Amazon Prime to some pretty good reviews, with Vulture dubbing it, "the sapphic, David Lynch-influenced mystery-thriller that you didn’t know you needed." David Lynch? That's some statement, right? Well, fortunately, you can make up your own mind about the comparison pretty soon because Picnic at Hanging Rock will arrive on British screens for the first time this week.
Fancy giving Picnic At Hanging Rock a whirl? Well, here's everything you need to know. Enjoy.
When Does Picnic At Hanging Rock Start?
Picnic At Hanging Rock will premiere on BBC Two at 9.05 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11. One episode will air at on the same day, at the same time, every week hereafter. Of course, this Wednesday is also the England versus Croatia World Cup semi-final, which starts at 7 p.m. So, let's hope it doesn't go to penalties!
(Even if it does, there's always the BBC iPlayer, right?)
Is There A Trailer For Picnic At Hanging Rock?
Why, yes there is. In fact, you can watch it here [above]:
Seriously, how creepy does it look? Sheesh.
Who Stars in Picnic At Hanging Rock?
The most familiar face in the forthcoming Picnic at Hanging Rock adaptation is probably Natalie Dormer's. The Game of Thrones and Hunger Games actress plays headmistress Hester Appleyard, an English widow who’s come to Australia to support herself but who is also hiding a multitude of secrets. As she told The Scotsman: “We slowly reveal the ghosts and the baggage of that past, who [Hester] is and this little kingdom that she has created 10,000 miles away from home to hide from her past."
But, who else?
Well, there's also Australian actress and rising Hollywood star Samara Weaving, who takes on the role of rich girl, Imra Leopold. Do you think she looks familiar? That's because Weaving also starred in the Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, in which she played the new girlfriend of Frances McDormand's character's ex-husband.
Picnic at Hanging Rock also stars Lily Sullivan (Miranda Reid), Madeleine Madden (Marion Quade), Anna McGahan (Greta McGraw), and Ruby Rees (Edith Horton).
Who Is The Writer & Director Of Picnic At Hanging Rock?
That's because it is. Seriously!
Adapted for TV by Beatrix Christian and Alice Addison, this female-led take on Picnic At Hanging Rock looks set to improve those troubling statistics of women in television. A report published by the Writers' Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) earlier this year found TV series written by women remained at a "shockingly low level" between 2001 and 2016, with women writing just 28 percent of scripted UK television shows over the past 15 years. Grim. The project is also directed by Canadian filmmaker Larysa Kondracki, with Edith Kurzer is on costumes.
Tell Me About Picnic At Hanging Rock In More Detail...
Sure, I can go into more detail. Picnic at Hanging Rock charts the disappearance of maths teacher Greta McCraw and three of her pupils Miranda, Irma, and Marion from a 20th Century Australian boarding school. They were last seen — you guessed it — taking a picnic at Hanging Rock. Despite its historical setting, actress Natalie Dormer has advised viewers to think of this adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock as sci-fi, telling the Express: "It's not a costume drama — it's helpful to think of it more in sci-fi terms. Just because there's horses and corsets, it's actually got a more psychedelic, non-linear tone to it." Thus, viewers should probably expect some supernatural/magical realist themes from this adaptation.
Such comments may well have to do with the mysterious (and cut) ending of Joan Lindsay's novel. Before any of its on screen adaptations, Picnic at Hanging Rock was already pretty famous for its renowned and thoroughly open-ended final chapter. However, rumour has that Lindsay actually wrote a definitive 12-page chapter explaining what happened to the girls, which was sadly cut by the book's publisher.
Thankfully, Lindsay later gave the chapter to her publishing house to be revealed after her death, and that final mystery was later resolved and published in The Secret of Hanging Rock. I won't say much more than that in case the BBC Two adaptation ends the same way, but I will say the OG Picnic at Hanging Rock ending is pretty out there.