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Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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msauvage purple
Something sort of interesting--I love the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock, but I've never gotten hold of the book. And I came across a summary of the original ending to the book--a chapter that was removed because, really, the weird charm of both the movie and (apparently) the book is that what happened at the rock comes to stand for the unknowable--that which cannot be known and, perhaps, that which should not be known.

I had heard a rumor that the missing ending actually implicated a UFO, possibly aliens kidnapping the girls, but the summary clearly disproves that. Wikipedia notes that the most common explanation (by fans and critics, I guess) is that the girls stumbled into "a time warp." I can't speak for the book, obviously, but I got the feeling (with the movie) that there was something having to do with female sexuality and civilization encroaching where it has no business--and no clue. The civilization bit is self-evident, given the way people are having picnics and parties out in the frickin' Australian outback; the female sexuality part is more from the beginning of the movie, with it being Valentine's Day and the girls being all languorous and full of poetry and Sara obviously having a huge crush on Miranda. But also--the headmistress says something later about Miss McCraw that seriously makes me think they were in some kind of informal relationship. Nothing huge; she just gets angry at dinner with the French teacher, seems to be a little drunk, mentions Miss McCraw by her first name, and says something along the line of, "How could she be so stupid?" Kind of in the sense of, "How could she be such a girl about it and get herself killed?" (Seriously, if you remember the actual line, help me out here.) I mean, clearly it could just be that the headmistress admires her, but for some reason, I seriously got the feeling that they were in some kind of relationship, which the Sara/Miranda thing kind of supports as being possible--as in, the movie's not afraid to go there.

Anyway, I always kind of thought (and I seem to remember defending in a film class paper in college) that the mountain swallowed them up because it was a (super)natural hot spot, for lack of a better word--a hot spot aggravated by 1) the cavalier way the English schoolgirls (and the family with the two boys, the son and the servant) intrude with their picnic and 2) the intense female adolescent sexuality roiling around. It's the idea that there are just places in nature where it's better not to trespass, where you have no idea what you're getting into, which is exactly what happens with the daytrippers--here's this fancy girls' school out in the middle of frickin' nowhere, in the bush, which is a supreme act of nose-thumbing defiance against the wilderness, if you think about it. And part of the reason I like my explanation is that I cannot imagine the rock actually doing anything. Maybe it lures the girls up there, and then into the crevice, but I can't imagine what it "does" with them afterwards. Or why it doesn't take the fourth girl. I don't really know what happened to Miss McCraw, either--why Edith saw her without her dress, or what happened to her afterwards. And that's why I like it, because I don't know, because that's the nature of the rock. It's something you can't know, something beyond reason. If you had been on the rock watching when the girls disappeared, you would have been temporarily blinded and unable to see what happened. In fact, Edith can't explain or recall what happened after the girls walked into the rock(s), like either time skipped or she was plunged into a hysteria of unreason or something.

So on that same web page, I read someone's theory as to what actually happened to the girls. And I have to tell you, it pisses me off because the guy supports it so well--pissed off in that sense of "NO NO I AM NOT WRONG SHUT UP." You know, when you know you're totally beaten at your own game. His theory is that it was a rock slide, a completely normal, unsupernatural rock slide, and that Lindsay's overarching simile is rock is to girls as girls are to ants, particularly in the sense of the girls stepping on ants and crushing them without knowing it or caring. And pretty much all the evidence he presents points to a rock slide--a red cloud of dust, a rumbling sound, footprints obliterated by rubble, watches stopping as if before an earthquake (the latter idea supported by something Lindsay wrote previously to that effect)--although I'm still not sure how Irma could have taken her corset off in the process of digging out, and I don't know that this explains Miss McCraw being seen running up to the rock already in her drawers, but then I don't know if that second part was only in the movie, as (again), I haven't read the book yet. But just the theory that Lindsay's similes and description of the rock are intended as clues to the rock slide--well, it's depressingly well-supported.

The theory finishes with this:
If you believe that Joan Lindsay wrote “Picnic at Hanging Rock” knowing what happened to the missing girls and Miss McCraw, then the solution documented here, or a close variation of it, can be the only plausible solution.  This solution is consistent and believable, and can be justified by numerous quotes from the novel.

The mystery does not have to be explained using inconsistent, supernatural, or far-fetched reasoning!  Attempts at doing this degrade the reputation of both Joan Lindsay and of the novel itself, which has charmed readers since 1967.
And then you get the summary of how Lindsay actually solved the mystery herself (which the theorist implies he had not yet read at that time), which is basically that Edith runs off and the girls go to sleep and they wake up and there's Miss McCraw but they don't recognize her and they all go kind of giddy and weird and take off their corsets and throw them over the cliff and Miss McCraw is all like, "Whoa! Look at that shit!" and the corsets are floating in the air suspended in space and time and then there's a hole (in space) (and time) that, like, totally has all the answers to the mysteries of life and a small brown snake slithers out and disappears down a crack in the rock and Miss McCraw is like, "We should totally follow that snake," and the girls are like, "We should what in the where now?," and Miss McCraw turns into a snake and follows the other one, and Miranda and Marion are like, "Dude," and they turn into snakes and slither after her, and then a boulder falls over and covers the crack and poor Irma is left there all like "WHAT."

Oh, the hilarity.

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So the solution is, "Rocks fall, everybody dies?" BRILLIANT!

Oh man. I've only read the book, never seen the movie, and all I remember is that my head spun when I read it. And it's spinning again. I like the "unknown" factor of it, though, and am satisfied with it ;)

Ah, scratch that. It's a Peter Weir movie, no? Then I've seen it. I had a professor who wanted to marry Weir, I swear - we watched a plethora of his films that semester.

You know, what if LOST ends this way? Except I really don't think there's any realistic non-supernatural explanation for what's already happened, so not much chance I suppose.

Pfft. Give me ambiguous possibly-supernatural creepiness over the depressing mundane any day.

Besides, what or who caused the rockslide?

(Antarctic Space Nazis, obviously)

There are active volcanoes undersea not all that far from there. A bit of an earth tremor could conceivably have triggered a rockslide.

I remember really like this movie when I first saw it, and the music was so! haunting! I saw it again, and still liked it, but the music? SO ANNOYING! And pretty much ENDLESS!

Apparently it's Zamfir, which explains a lot. You say "Zamfir" and my first thought is "annoying late-night commercials on basic cable."

Ah Peter Wier. I saw 'The Last Wave' in a Memento-esque manner one summer. I caught at the end. The next time it was on, I caught 15 minutes more from the end. Eventually I saw the whole movie. Not that it made any more sense, mind you.

Okay, I need to find this book immediately.

I think something that has always facinated me with the book was, as you put it, the "intense female adolescent sexuality roiling around." Because it always put me in mind of the theory that poltergeist activity is caused by female adolescent sexuality. And I like the idea that somehow the two theories are connected somehow.

But, as you said with the Rock, it does feel like something that can't be known. It's kind of got that "Dionaea House" feel to it, doesn't it?

Hooray for creepy, spine-tingling stories.

Hee, exactly. It also reminds me a little of Lost Highway--the idea that something could happen in the middle of the story that is both cataclysmic and unknowable.

And you know, now that you mention it, I had heard that about poltergeists/spirit disturbances. I wonder why it's female sexuality and not male sexuality--maybe because there's no easy, obvious release for it? I mean, masturbation, not to put too fine a point on it--a lot of girls don't even know what's down there, much less what to do with it.

Woot! Greetings, friend-of-friend.

We did 'Picnic At Hanging Rock' in Year 10 English - read the book, watched the movie, had to write a final chapter for the book. Every single one of those theories turned up in someone's final chapter. Mine, as I remember, was 'aliens kidnapped them for experiments', which had something to do with the books I'd read recently, and was horribly derivative, but the English teacher hadn't read said books and didn't realise. The lady I sat next to did the 'lesbian love story' one, where they run away due to the forbidden love. Her chapter didn't say whether they lived happily ever after or not, but did deal with the headmistress looking wistfully out a window later... That was one cool English class, taught by the deputy headmistress of a fairly posh all-girls school.

Dude! That sounds seriously awesome.

It's been a while since I've seen the film, but as I remember it, the whole tone of the movie supports your theory very well. It's got that whole unheimlich thing going, which definitely doesn't really point you in the direction of "landslide". It points you in the direction of "rip in the fabric of reality". Actually, reading through your theory reminded me of Kafka on the Shore and Murakami's work in general.
A rockslide is just to damn ordinary, dammit.

Which is a good point--Weir may have taken a completely different tack than Lindsay in terms of what *he* was hinting at. The book might not support my theory, but I think the movie does.

I'm Aussie, and the book and film were both big dealies out here (I was introduced to them both so young that they REALLY messed with my head), and I gotta say, I kind of like the logical explanation. I don't think it detracts from the haunting nature of the tale. A rainbow explained as water droplets and light effects is still a rainbow. :)

I've never read the book or seen the movie (Netflix tonight, Borders tomorrow!), but this whole "explanation" thing reminds me of the time my entire English class shouted down the professor who wanted to offer us "proof" that Beloved wasn't a ghost. Yeesh. If I wanted realism, I wouldn't be reading fiction, would I?

Of course, I deleted my Picnic icon right before reading this. Sob.

I never read the book, but I love the film, and I think the majority of its allure (and I'm sure it's the same case with the book, too) is the element of the unknown. There are clues offered, such as the burgeoning female sexuality and the arrogance of civilization, but you have to think to actually figure out what those clues are pointing to. And, because no answer is offered, it makes it all the more eerie and provoking. I read the ending just recently and it's really a poor explanation and a letdown. And, in a way, I don't think there could ever be any explanation that would satisfy fans and critics, because the story itself is so fantastic that anything else would be a letdown. A rock slide could indeed be plausible, but that takes all the fun out of it.

I read something once (actually, I think it was on IMDB) about how the rock rejected the girls who weren't "pure". Miranda was accepted because she was pure, Marion was accepted because she had a select and specific interest in something, and the others were rejected for being worldly, gluttonous, etc. I can't remember and would have to re-read the theory, but I thought it was interesting.


The original ending went on sale *seperately* to the book here about a decade ago. A rift in time is strongly suggested, as is the idea that the rock itself was somehow alive and devoured them, but it still doesn't spell out anything too definite.

People *still* go to Hanging Rock to this day and run around like lunatics yelling "Miraaaaanda!" *g*

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and a small brown snake slithers out and disappears down a crack in the rock and Miss McCraw is like, "We should totally follow that snake," and the girls are like, "We should what in the where now?," and Miss McCraw turns into a snake and follows the other one, and Miranda and Marion are like, "Dude," and they turn into snakes and slither after her

And then the snakes get picked up by a PLANE, and them biznatches get killed by mothafuckin' SAMUEL L. JACKSON, 'cause he don't play that shit, you dig?

YOu haven't had much sleep, have you honey?