Lost Girls, Dead Poets, Last Waves

  • Frank Cossa


The Australian film director Peter Weir has created, over the last twenty years, a body of work of remarkable quality and consistency of vision. In virtually all of his films something -- often quite literally someone -- gets lost. Innocence, idealism, and faith are the usual casualties. Moreover, there is nearly always a clash of cultures. His characters are thrown into a milieu they are not equipped to understand, one that seems hostile and threatening if only for its strangeness. In this, Weir is the quintessential Aussie; the perennial outsider. Australians are neither European, nor Asian, nor South Sea Islanders, yet they are all of these. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) takes place on St. Valentine's Day, 1900, at a girls' school in Southeast Australia, a Victorian outpost on the edge of the bush. In the atmosphere of hothouse romanticism that pervades the place the girls exchange valentines and love...