THE MOVIE
SOUNDTRACK
DELETED SCENES AND OUT-TAKES
ORIGINAL ENDING
FILM LOCATIONS
PETER WEIR
JOAN LINDSAY
STORY OF PICNIC
AFTER THE PICNIC
HANGING ROCK
ANNE LAMBERT
IN LOVING MEMORY
JANE VALLIS
NEWSPAPERS
DID YOU KNOW?
MY COLLECTION
PHOTO ARCHIVE
RADIO ARCHIVE
VIDEO ARCHIVE
RARE PHOTOS
MAILS FROM THE CAST MEMBERS

THE WEBMASTER

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ANNE LAMBERT

Anne-Louise Lambert (born 21 August 1956) is an Australian actress whose acting career began with her role in "Number 96" in 1973. Anne shot to international stardom after playing Miranda in Peter Weir's classic film "Picnic at Hanging Rock" (1975). Director Peter Weir saw her in a television commercial for Fanta and felt she was perfect for the lead role as Miranda in "Picnic at Hanging Rock". She resides in the Sydney suburb of Balmain with her son Harry (born 1989) and works as a psychotherapist, counsellor and coach.

"My life as an actress has been rich in experience. Now as a psychotherapist, counsellor and coach, that experience enriches my work." Anne Lambert

"The rock... its' beauty and its' power just hit me. It has still got a presence, that extraordinary presence. It's really there." Anne Lambert

INTERVIEW WITH ANNE

Has your interpretation of the meaning and themes of the film changed over the years – particularly given your work as a psychotherapist?

Yes, I’ve looked at it differently at every stage of my life. It’s one of those films that is so rich and layered in meaning, and certainly the work I do now changes the way I see Picnic a little bit.

It seems to be about the English arriving here, to this place. We have that sense of that foreign, almost transplanted way of thinking and the natural environment being at odds. Miranda seems to be natural, unspoilt and unaffected, and she hasn’t really taken on the ‘shoulds’ and ‘have-tos’ of colonial thinking. She’s somehow free and her relationships with others seem loving and giving – a huge contrast to the school’s hierarchical way of thinking, which was all about power, control and status. The school is also a place full of repressed energy.

I also think the film is about our relationship with uncertainty and fear of the unknown, and I guess in terms of psychotherapy, the big existential question of death. We have an incredible need to solve and control things and in this film, that doesn’t happen – just like in life, where resolution and control often don’t happen either. We try and understand, solve and resolve everything, and we don’t succeed.

What do you remember about the costumes?

The costumes themselves were incredibly comfortable and were obviously made for each of us. Judith Dorsman’s work was remarkable.

My dress was all about Miranda – it had daisies in the lace and that was Miranda’s flower. It talks about her innocence and her simplicity. There was a butterfly buckle which talked about her freedom, her lightness of being. The dress itself was incredibly comfortable, and Miranda was the only one who didn’t have to wear a corset. Theoretically, again, that was about her being free.

The one thing that I did have difficulty with was the shoes. All that wandering up and down the rock and jumping over creeks became incredibly painful. That was probably my greatest acting achievement: to not look like I was in extreme pain, because I was in extreme pain! We had old boots, shoes from the period and the leather was hard. They must have tried about three different pairs on me and none of them actually fitted. So I would take my boots off at the end of the day and they were full of blood, basically. I wore my way through blisters and bandages – it was just ridiculous. So all that trailing of hands and trying to look relaxed was probably my finest moment – if only people knew!

How do you feel about the fact that these costumes are now part of an online exhibition, and a special one-night only exhibition in Canberra on 7 August 2015?

I think the work the NFSA does is incredibly important, valuable. For people to actually be able to see and be in the presence of those objects, things that they’ve seen on the screen… it’s part of our cultural and social history, and I’m happy to have given the dress and the costumes to the NFSA knowing they will be well looked after and others will get to enjoy them.

Your face became synonymous with the film. What were the positives and negatives of this association?

Picnic has been an important part of my life because of the fact that that photograph of me gets seen so much. The recognition that I get from that film just seems to go on and on and on.

The positives have probably outweighed the negatives because Picnic has had such a warm response from the public, and Miranda in particular seems to be a character that people respond very warmly to. People respond very warmly to me when they recognise me as Miranda, and that has made my world a much warmer and friendlier place to be. I’ve grown up with people smiling into my face with shiny eyes, hugging me and being thrilled when they make that connection, and that’s been extremely positive.

On the other hand, I have to keep finding a new relationship with the whole experience, with the film itself, what it means in terms of Australian history, what it means in terms of my life. I don’t always feel like doing it. I sometimes think, ‘What can I possibly say that I haven’t already said? Am I just repeating myself and is this all getting a bit tedious for people?’.

In addition to your psychotherapy work, are you planning any new acting roles?

I’m not working on anything at the moment. I’m limited in the work I can do because of my psychotherapy career, so things either magically fit or they don’t. More recently I did a small part in the House of Hancock series playing Hope Hancock, Gina’s mother. I think I died in the first episode, so that fitted in nicely with my work.

It’s really about finding things that I’m able to do, that I want to do, and that fit in around my other work. Sometimes it works out really well but quite often it’s just not possible.

MORE ABOUT ANNE

Sarah Lambert talks about her sister Anne Lambert

One of my earliest memories is being with Anne at the beach, sculpting mermaids out of sand and decorating them with seashells. She would have been 18, I was four. She'd gone in for a swim and as she emerged from the waves, I was struck by how much she looked like the mermaid we'd made. It was one of those "a-ha" moments. I'd discovered the truth about Anne: she was no ordinary big sister, she was a mermaid!

At seven, I decided she was a vampire. But that's another story. She was my hero. Someone who made magical things happen. Still is.

I have a vague memory of going to the opening of Picnic at Hanging Rock. I was five. It wasn't until much later that I really realised how powerful that image of her as Miranda was. Iconic. People would see her and kind of go stupid. As a kid, I thought it was cool. In my teens, I must admit I found it difficult. It's not easy to have an exceedingly beautiful older sister. You'd meet somebody and they'd say, "I've always been in love with your sister; she was the girl I always fantasised about." I just couldn't compete with that. I cut off my hair, got serious, and tried to be the antithesis of that image.

I soon realised Picnic at Hanging Rock was both a blessing and a curse. Anne has played so many other roles, both here and in the UK - she's a very good actor - but what people wanted from her was to always be the ethereal Miranda. That role was larger than her and she couldn't escape it. In reality, Anne is a very strong person; earthy, perceptive and wickedly funny. The antithesis of Miranda, really.

Our parents had a tumultuous relationship. When it ended in the mid-1970s, it was like starting our lives over, especially for Mum, who went it alone with four children [the sisters have two brothers, Tony, now 57, and Andrew, 47]. It fell to Anne to step in to help raise us younger kids. She made sure we had a roof over our heads and helped pay for everything.

After a fairly conventional childhood, there was suddenly this feeling of freedom. Different boyfriends would come to woo Anne and have to drag these kids out on dates with them as part of the bargain. Bad for them, but fun for us.

When Anne went to England three years later, I felt I'd lost my second mother. Every day I'd pounce on the mailbox looking for letters from her. They were full of her adventures. The world was opening up for Anne: working with great directors like Peter Greenaway and acting legends like Lauren Bacall, travelling to extraordinary places. She introduced me to the idea of a bigger world out there, to being brave and committing yourself to being an artist, to life, regardless of whether you succeed or not. I still have some of those letters. Later I followed in her footsteps, moving to New York to pursue my career as a writer.

I think Anne's found her calling as a psychotherapist. She's always had this ability to truly walk in another person's shoes. It's what made her a great actor. This new career feels like the perfect culmination of a big life. I've never seen her so passionately engaged as she is about her work with her clients.

When Mum got cancer in 2009, I was pregnant with my first child. I couldn't bear the idea of losing her. While I railed against the diagnosis and the inevitable end, Anne's reaction was one of acceptance, of gratitude for the moments we had left and finding the beauty, the sadness and often the humour in them. Experiences like this test your relationships. It tested ours, but ultimately bonded us even more.

When Mum died last year, I was pregnant again. She never got to meet my baby son, Tom. It was Anne who stepped in to fill that void, holding my hand through it all. I don't really think of her as a second mother any more. She's my friend, my sister and someone I am very grateful to have by my side.

ANNE-LOUISE'S STORY

I still remember Mum telling me she was pregnant with Sarah. I was 14, so it was a bit of a shock. Sarah was a fat little baby and incredibly cute. As a child, her dream life was vivid. At night I'd hear her talking in her sleep or find her wandering around the house asleep, like a little spook. She had a richly imaginative inner life, always looking for the magical in the everyday and in others. It's what gives her writing its distinctive quality.

I remember shopping with her when she was about four years old. There were some plain tops on the rack at one end and some bright, rainbow-coloured ones at the other. I can still see the look of wonder on her face when she realised you could get all those extra colours for the same price. Why wouldn't you? She has an interesting way of being in the world.

When my parents split up, Mum and the four of us children set up house in inner-Sydney's Balmain. It was the 1970s, I was 18 and I had a family to support! I'd been acting professionally since I was 14, so Sarah grew up around actors and artists and alternative ways of thinking about politics, the role of women, spirituality, food, the arts - everything, really. Society was changing and life felt exciting and hopeful. She soaked it all up. It seemed very natural for her to start acting when she did. She just sort of grew into it.

I was 21 when I went to England. It seemed that if I didn't go then I might never make the break. But it was hard. I missed my family badly and was homesick knowing I was missing out on all those little moments that happen as Sarah was growing up and changing, the mini milestones. When years later I returned to Australia, Sarah was a young woman and we had to find a new relationship as adults.

Sarah's creative evolution into writing happened organically. She's always had a remarkable way with words and is drawn like a magnet to the extraordinary in any particular situation. She understands the emotional heart of a story and is able to take you there with her. She's passionate about her work. Watching [Australian TV drama] Love Child, I could always tell the episodes she'd written. I recognised her voice and could feel that intensity she has, that emotional truthfulness coming through. I am hugely proud of her.

Sarah is a fighter. During the four years of Mum's illness leading up to her death last year, Sarah fought - at first for Mum's complete recovery, then for the quality of her life as she slowly left us, in stages.

She was my mother's champion when she could no longer speak for herself. After Mum died, Sarah and I bathed her, dressed her, did her hair, her make-up and her nails, so she looked just the way she liked. It was a painfully beautiful experience. When we'd finished, one of my mother's eyes opened, just a little, as though she was just checking on things. It was one of those strange moments of shared laughter that surprise you even in the midst of tragedy.

We've always been able to talk, about anything. We've shared it all: relationship break-ups, career highs and lows, births, deaths and the small precious everyday experiences in between. We've each seen what the other is made of in extreme situations when everything gets stripped bare. And I just love her.

"Picnic at Hanging Rock" Site. Created by Sandra Gambino. 2005 - 2019
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