There are spots on the earth believed to have magical powers or mysterious properties. In this Australian film by Peter Weir (The Truman Story), which was first released in 1979, a group of teenage schoolgirls from Appleyard College in Australia go on an outing on Valentine's Day in 1900. The place, Hanging Rock, is a volcanic site over a million years old.
While the other girls are picnicking, Miranda (Anne Lambert), Marion (Jane Vallis), and Irma (Karen Robson) go on a little excursion to the top of the rock. Another girl with them, Edith (Christine Schuler), awakes from a nap to find herself left behind. She runs down the rock in a panic, passing their school mistress (Vivean Gray) heading up in search of them. The three girls and the mistress are never heard from again.
This unsolved mystery, based on an historical incident, presses upon our consciousness with an unrelenting series of questions. Watches stopped during the picnic; were the girls caught up in a time warp? Were they grabbed by aborigines for trespassing upon sacred tribal grounds? Or did Miranda, the leader of the group, whisk them away from the place for a less restricted life elsewhere? She had remarked, "Everything begins and ends exactly at the right time and the right place."
Peter Weir's screen treatment of Joan Lindsay's novel is a tour de force of imagery, pacing, and performance. We are left with an uncanny respect for the mysteries in life that can never be solved by logic alone.