Here’s everything we know about Picnic at Hanging Rock

Posted: 26 April 2018 3:21 pm

Adapting one of the best Australian novels for the silver screen is no easy feat, but the new Foxtel miniseries Picnic at Hanging Rock seems destined for huge success.

There’s no doubt that Picnic at Hanging Rock is integrated into Australia’s national folklore. The 1967 novel and the 1975 movie adaptation are both considered masterpieces, so a reboot of the cult classic in this day and age is a big risk.

However in this case, taking the leap seems to have been more than worth it. The upcoming Foxtel miniseries boasts a big budget and an impressive cast. Plus, if early reviews are to be trusted, the show will undoubtedly become a hit thanks to smart storytelling and stunning visuals.

Picnic at Hanging Rock centers on the mysterious disappearance of three girls and a teacher during a school outing on Valentine’s Day in 1900. Viewers are taken on a journey incorporating the events that follow and can see how the girls’ suspicious vanishing act affects the community, to tragic lengths.

Directed by Larysa Kondracki, the miniseries promises to delve deeper into the characters’ lives. It aims to deliver an ambitious narrative, likely to dazzle and haunt both veteran fans and viewers experiencing the story for the first time. In anticipation of the show’s May 6 premiere, here’s everything we know so far about the Foxtel drama:

The cast is impressive

The cast of Picnic at Hanging Rock is led by Natalie Dormer, of Game of Thrones and The Tudors fame. The British actress is known for taking on versatile roles, and Picnic at Hanging Rock is no exception.

Dormer plays English headmistress Mrs. Hester Appleyard, a complex and challenging character. “It’s such a great ensemble piece with so many characters with a lot of secrecy between them. And I thought it was just wonderful the way this community and school had been fleshed out,” Dormer said.

She’s joined by Australian actress Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black), who will take on the part of Miss Dora Lumley, Mistress of Deportment and Bible Studies.The rest of the cast is great as well, with tons of young Australian talent in the mix. Lily Sullivan will play Miranda Reid, while Madeleine Madden is set to portray Marian Quade. Samara Weaving, Ruby Rees, Lola Bessis, Anna McGahan, Sibylla Budd, and Inez Curro round out the rest of the cast.

The miniseries examines what makes the characters tick

While both the novel and the movie hint at the characters’ complicated backstories, the miniseries is set to explore the skeletons in their closets full on. According to Dormer: “In her novel, Joan Lindsay gives you hints there is a past life and that Hester isn’t being completely honest about her background. The delicious thing that has been done with our version of Picnic at Hanging Rock is that we have really fleshed out her morally ambiguous background in London. The audience slowly learns more and more, and that she is not as she portrays herself to be”.

Madeleine Madden hinted at the show’s depth as well. “We're saying much more about the girls' history, where they come from, and where they want to go, really,” the actress said.

The show will be surrounded in mystery

According to Foxtel, viewers will doubt everything from early on, with all players being revealed as likely suspects. Since we know that something is about to go down, clues about what or who might be responsible will abound, so being suspicious throughout your binge-watch is recommended. Everyone will look as though they’re hiding something and not even Headmistress Appleyard is quite what she seems. I guess we'll have to tune in for the series to find out more.

The early reviews are great

Picnic at Hanging Rock premiered to universal acclaim at the Berlin Film Festival, with multiple critics raving about the show’s cast and cinematography.

This new Picnic has the expensive trappings of a prestige project, but it also isn't afraid to embrace a wild, salacious, even trashy (in a good way) side that spices up the entertainment, The Hollywood Reporter writes. The Guardian praises Dormer’s performance: “Natalie Dormer’s terrific, scenery-chewing performance punches through the thick, inebriating atmosphere around her.” The Age, meanwhile, is optimistic about the show’s ability to awe viewers: “It's impossible to say on the basis of just one episode whether or not this version of Picnic delivers across the entire series, but there's more than enough here to suggest it will.” In short, all signs indicate that Picnic at Hanging Rock is must-see TV.

Viewers will be able to binge the whole thing

Making Foxtel history, Picnic at Hanging Rock will be available to binge in its entirety on demand. The premiere is scheduled for May 6, with episodes airing every Sunday on Foxtel’s showcase channel. However, following the premiere, all six episodes will be made available both on demand and on Foxtel Now.

That means viewers can choose between watching the miniseries all at once or pacing themselves with weekly episodes. While Netflix and Stan subscribers are used to this model, Foxtel was shy about implementing it until now. Regardless of how you plan to watch it though, it’s clear that the series might require multiple viewings.

Moreover, the series is also making waves internationally. Amazon Prime Video picked up the rights to distribute the show in the US where it premieres on May 25, while BBC will show it in the UK. Picnic at Hanging Rock will also air in France and New Zealand.

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