Australian Society - Picnic At Hanging Rock

Essay by chucklebuggHigh School, 11th gradeA+, July 2009

download word file, 3 pages 0.0

Many people have endeavored to define the typical Australian and each come up with as many definitions as there are Australians. Images such as the beach, the sun and the bush have been used to describe Australia for decades; however do they truly illustrate the Australian culture? The typical Aussie has been described as easy going, fair and casual. Yet when we observe Australian society many of these images contradict reality. Joan Lindsay’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” (which follows the disappearance of three girls and a teacher on a picnic at a popular Australian location) challenges the Australian stereotype as a peaceful society and presents it as one of lost identity, class inequality and sexual repression. Techniques used include symbolism, contrast, irony/ sarcasm, denouement, dialogue, camera angles and stage directions.

During the 1900s, Australia was facing an identity crisis. They were British subjects who thought of themselves as Australians, yet British-Australians loyal to the mother country.

The film showcases a series of oppositions: between European ideals and the Australian landscape, between culture and nature and between the English and the Australians. The technique used is contrast, to show differences. The title itself represents this; Lindsay uses Hanging Rock as an iconic landmark that symbolizes all that is different and unfamiliar about the Australian landscape. And a picnic, in this instance, seems to be a particularly European thing to do. The film places markers of European culture - corsets, watches, a locally built replica of an eighteenth century English mansion that is described in the stage directions as “an island of hard stone and English garden marooned in the bush dreaming of Europe” - in the vast, rugged Australian land, and records the absurdity of those relationships. These early twentieth century Australians anxiously encircle themselves with characteristics of civilization...