Fiction, Mythology, The Sublime

Hear us, great Pan!: Valentine’s Day, Lupercalia, and Picnic at Hanging Rock

When I first saw Peter Weir’s  Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), I must have been somewhere between 17 and 21 years old, living in rural Southwest Ohio, where I was born and raised and which was, like Weir’s 1900 south Australia, an ostensibly free yet inwardly straightjacketed province. I recall being excited by the subtext that Sara’s affection for Miranda, and then Mademoiselle de Poitier’s appreciation of Miranda’s beauty, suggested, not to mention the visuals of the key scenes that I get into here shortly. Above this visceral impact, though, something haunting embedded in the film has made me ever since consider Hanging Rock part of my personal worldview, across multiple phases of my life, despite having seen it only once or twice.

The film is subversive, defiant, and wild, which is probably why I like it, and what makes it even more appealing to me now is that the veinery circulating these impressions is the god Pan (Catania).

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