A girlish squeal of delight. The crunch of wet earth and dried leaves as one of the picnic's company runs her hand into the trembling earth. A rustle from the dresses as all but three of the party fall suddenly, heavily asleep where they eat. Sorry, what's going on here?
This mesmerically beautiful David Lynch-inspired adaptation of Joan Lindsay's 1967 novel Picnic at Hanging Rock has scenes that could have been taken straight out of Peter Wier's 1975 film adaptation. Queue casts of ladies gazing longingly at one another through soft, sparkling light – as though shot through Instagram's Kirakira filter.
BBC/Fremantle Media/Narelle Portanier
Set in 1900 Picnic at Hanging Rock follows the story of adolescent girls and their governess, who vanish into thin air whilst on a school outing in the Australian outback. On first look, everything is soft, gentle and sweet. Crowds of pretty young things waft about in frills and bonnets. But there's a dark heart.
Where Peter Weir's film leant into the undercurrents of eroticism and mysticism, producing a slow, movingly beautiful film, the new six-part adaptation by screenwriter Beatrix Christian has illuminated the darker themes at play. In particular, the dangerous headmistress Hester Appleyard (played with aplomb by Natalie Dormer) is given a twisted backstory, a character who has fled from her history and reinvented herself across the waves.
Read our interview with Natalie Dormer
In the hands of writers Beatrix Christian and Alice Addison we're given an intimate study of character, and the straining tensions formed in the institutions forcefully moulding ambitious young girls into the women society demands they should be. This is beautiful and sensual genre-bending story (that does somethings make your head spin) lovingly brought to life on the BBC.
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11 Jul 18 – 30 Nov 18, Picnic at Hanging Rock airs 9:05pm Wednesday 11 July