We live at a time when even The Globe Theater, where Shakespeare’s plays were originally unveiled, has gone Full Woke.
Following Peter Weir’s celebrated 1975 cinematic adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel Picnic at Hanging Rock, Amazon has created a new miniseries on the book, which prompts a NYT reviewer to wring their hands in anxiety. In 2018, this is how a film review now begins:
As a novel (in 1967) and a film (in 1975), “Picnic at Hanging Rock” had a couple of features that could be problematic in 2018.
Set in 1900 in the Australian countryside, where provincial gentility rubbed up against indigenous culture and wild nature, the story centered on a series of disappearances and deaths of girls and women — symbolically done in by, or perhaps mystically transcending, their repressive environment. It was not a story of empowerment.
Even worse, by current standards, the instigating mystery — the disappearance of three boarding-school girls and one of their teachers during a hike up Hanging Rock, an actual geological feature near Melbourne — was left unsolved. Did they jump, did they run, were they killed, were they transported? No definitive answer was provided. In the peak-TV era, there is no greater heresy.
So what were the creators of a new, six-episode “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” made for Australian television and streaming on Amazon beginning Friday, to do?…
Such a conundrum.
Here’s a radical idea: Be as faithful to the novel as you can.