If you haven’t seen Peter Weir‘s Australian classic Picnic at Hanging Rock, go and do so right now. And then come back, May 25th, to see how Amazon is expanding it (and Joan Lindsay‘s novel) into a limited series. The story revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a group of school girls on Valentine’s Day in 1900, while on a walkabout to a nearby outcropping. The 1975 movie is a haunting reverie, and created an aesthetic that has been cribbed by a number of other filmmakers (including Sofia Coppola for movies like The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette). It deals with love, death, and mystery in a way that is so beautifully balanced and intertwined that it stays with you long after you watch it.
However, it’s not a typical mystery, and one of the most enduring aspects of the story is its anxiety-ridden finale. Amazon’s series (overseen by Larysa Kondracki, who directs three of the episodes) will expand and explore the world a little more deeply, but I’m hoping it doesn’t change the ending too much … without giving anything away, it’s always been a controversial close, and one that inspires obsession.
Amazon’s series will star Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) as the school’s headmistress, who is herself a mystery. All six episodes of the limited series will premiere on Amazon Friday, May 25th. Check out the first trailer below:
This trailer doesn’t exactly wow me, but I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt because I love Weir’s movie so much. Here’s the official synopsis for the series, along with more images below:
Natalie Dormer stars as Mrs. Hester Appleyard, the enigmatic headmistress of Appleyard College, a boarding school that she established for young ladies isolated in Australian bushland. Starring alongside Dormer as the three students who mysteriously vanish include Samara Weaving (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Babysitter) as Irma Leopold, a Rothschild heiress; Madeleine Madden (Tomorrow When The War Began, High Life) as Marion Quade, daughter of a high court Justice; and Lily Sullivan (Camp, Jungle) as Miranda Reid, the rebellious tomboy who grew up with four brothers on a cattle station. These girls have a strong bond and together resist the edicts of society. Other cast members include Lola Bessis (Swim Little Fish Swim), Yael Stone (Orange Is The New Black), Anna McGahan (Underbelly), Sibylla Budd (The Secret Life of Us), Ruby Rees (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) and Inez Curro (Little Heart).