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Trivia / Picnic at Hanging Rock

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The book:

  • Based on a Dream: Joan Lindsay claimed that the book was inspired by a week-long series of dreams about the girls and their picnic, though the concept of a novel set at Hanging Rock had been in her head for a while.
  • Creator's Favorite: Lindsay acknowledged that Miranda, Mlle. de Poitiers, Albert and Sara were her favorite characters, and that comes through very clearly in the book, since they get the most positive portrayals.
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  • Trolling Creator: Lindsay practically went out of her way to be extremely coy and ambiguous over whether the story was based on a real event, memorably writing in the book's introduction:
    Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction, my readers must decide for themselves. As the fateful picnic took place in the year nineteen hundred, and all the characters who appear in the book are long since dead, it hardly seems important.
  • Write What You Know: Lindsay attended Clyde School, a private girls' school in Melbourne, and used it as the model for Appleyard.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Lindsay wrote the novel in two weeks.


The film:

  • Creator-Preferred Adaptation: It might go too far to say she preferred the film, but Joan Lindsay enthusiastically approved its production and even showed up to watch parts of the filming. At one point, Lindsay approached Anne Lambert and started talking to her as though Lambert really was Miranda, which boosted Lambert's confidence in her performance.
  • Fake Nationality: Helen Morse, born in England but raised in Australia, as the French Mlle. de Poitiers. Outside of that, though, it's largely avoided, with the British characters played by British actors (though some had moved to Australia) and the Australians played by Australians.
  • The Other Marty/Cast the Runner-Up: Filming began with Ingrid Mason as Miranda, but Peter Weir decided she wasn't working out, and replaced her with Anne Lambert. Mason stuck around to play one of the other girls, Rosamund (the one who who barges in on Miranda and Sara to tell them about the Valentine that Miss McCraw got).
    • Anne Lambert revealed in 2000 that Ingrid Mason's "wasn't working out" was code for "too fat". She doesn't regret playing Miranda but was surprised at the character's massive appeal and her having become such an iconic figure. She also had a problem with stalkers, one of whom was apparently an erotomaniac (believed he had a genuine spiritual communion with her). This man gave her so much trouble she left Australia for a time, and it affected her stage acting career.
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  • Troubled Production: Rachel Roberts was an alcoholic and sometimes did get drunk during the filming but she managed to compose herself for her scenes.
  • What Could Have Been: Vivien Merchant (Harold Pinter's then-wife, best known as Lily in Alfie and Mrs. Oxford in Frenzy) was cast as Mrs. Appleyard, but became ill before filming started. Rachel Roberts took over on short notice.
  • Word of Saint Paul:
    • Peter Weir denies any lesbian subtext in the film.note 
    • In a bitter, sarcastic interview, Anne Lambert revealed that the real reason she was cast after being rejected was that she was thin — the actress they originally chose turned out to be "too big". Lambert said she spent years studying dramatics thinking that's what being an actress was about; but was cast not because of her acting ability but because she had "great tits and good teeth".