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SilverStormm

Picnic At Hanging Rock

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I watched the 1975 movie a few years ago, not knowing a lot about it but was intrigued by the plot.  I liked the movie for the spooky atmosphere, the look at old Australia and the beautiful landscape.  I was a little miffed that the "mystery" was not revealed at the end, but it also made the movie memorable for that.  When I saw that it was remade, I was on-board to watch it and see how the otherworldly aura was depicted by a modern filmmaker.  Opinions and spoilers ahead.

I was not impressed and I bailed in the middle of episode 3.  Not having read the book, I don't know if all of the added material comes from that or from the screenwriters imagination.  The headmistress, played by Natalie Dormer, is a strict ramrod who has an unexplained dark history that permeates all her scenes -- I don't remember this character in the original being so harsh, but it's been a few years and my memory may be hazy.  After watching pointless corporal punishment, racist names being used towards the indigenous people, gratuitous man junk, teen girls enacting scenes one would expect to see in a soft-core lesbian flick, I realized this was not my cup of tea and I didn't want this new story to tarnish the memory of the original.   This remake seems to be just drawn out scenes from the source material, with added sex and violence to compete with the HBO standard of putting flesh on parade.  

Edited by patty1h
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I watched all 6 eps in one sitting. I still don't know if I liked it or not. lol 

I read about the changes between the book, the old movie and this movie. I do think the changes were good, in that they fleshed out the characters. The headmistresses backstory is pretty much told by the end. It made her actions towards the youngest girl interesting. 

I found the soft core porn aspect hilarious because all I could keep thinking was, damn, is Sapphic studies a required course at all girls schools? Apparently they were trying to depict how the isolation of young women together in that time against the barbarian men led them towards more romantic feelings towards one another through their isolation or something, but it just came across as gratuitous. 

I did like the look and cinematography of the whole thing, and the costumes. Great costumes. I read about the intended book ending, the last chapter that was removed from the book so it would end ambivalently. I think the ending she wrote:

Spoiler

which was 100% supernatural, time travel stuff.

 would have detracted from the story. I like that in this movie it seemed to imply more that the girls decided to run away and chose a place to do it that might have some supernatural undertones. I did like the eeriness of it all. But it was also a bit too forced at times. And too many cut scene's to the girls undressing each other which just felt gratuitous. I just found that particular scene, which was shown repeatedly, to be silly rather than sexy. 

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Yeah, I really loved the first three episodes and then was disappointed in the last three. I think the show tried to do too much - all those backstories and lesbian affairs and unrequited (?) manlove and attempted portrayals of race and class relationships became overwhelming. It was pretty to look at, though, and the performances were good.

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I don't think there's a lot to say about the author. Maybe change this topic to Book v. Movie v. TV Series instead?

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Hanging Rock is really remarkable and I love the way they filmed it. Go and visit it if you get the chance!

The school scenes were filmed at Werribee Park, near Melbourne, and the scenes at the Fitzhuberts' 'Lake View' property were filmed at the Rippon Lea Estate in Melbourne. You may recognise the latter as Aunt Prudence's home in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (and countless other Australian TV series).

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I think if they had focused on the class relationship aspect, how these girls were expected to get an education so they could be sold to the highest bidder is a fascinating concept, and I liked the main girl, the one who liked climbing trees and running around barefoot because she had a "fuck this" attitude about it all. She saw what it really was and wanted out. Her story was the one I was most interested in. And I did think they handled the mysterious disappearance well enough, with just enough mystery to keep you guessing but not so vague as to be annoying. 

It was just slightly too stylized at times, in a way that pulled me out of the story itself, and I agree they tried throwing too much in there. 

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Yeah, I really loved the first three episodes and then was disappointed in the last three. I think the show tried to do too much - all those backstories and lesbian affairs and unrequited (?) manlove and attempted portrayals of race and class relationships

 

Was it my imagination, or was there some UST (unresolved sexual tension) between Michael Fitzhubert and the grounds-keeper guy (GKG) who was helping him search for the girls?  Was Michael supposed to be on the down low - he didn't seem that enthusiastic to be paired up with Irma (or was it Miranda? I may have mixed them up).   They had the scene of Michael watching the GKG get dressed after a swim and later, GKG found Michael passed out and took off his shirt to tenderly wipe Michael's face.  Not sure if the slash fan in me made more of those scenes then was actually there, or did anyone else pick up on "hidden" meanings?   Was there any more after episode 3, when I stopped watching?

Edited by patty1h

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2 hours ago, patty1h said:

Was it my imagination, or was there some UST (unresolved sexual tension) between Michael Fitzhubert and the grounds-keeper guy (GKG) who was helping him search for the girls? 

I saw it too. Which was odd since we already had Irma's crush on Miranda of and Marion and her same sex teacher and then they added Fitzhubert and the GKG, and some would say the little girls crush on Miranda was more than just big sisterly. I felt like they were trying to say that if you spend too much time with just people who are the same sex as you chances are you'd end up gay, which I'm sure is not what they were going for but it did feel deliberate that so many of them had at least a passing fancy for someone of the same sex. There were also hints that the one odd teacher (the one with the brother) may have had romantic interest in other women, I forget if it was one specific teacher she seemed fixated on. Maybe they are trying to say that if you isolate yourself from the other sex you will begin to find romantic desire for those who you do spend time with. I did read that that isolation was one of the themes of the show. How in that era the sexes tended to be very segregated so maybe that's why all the heavy hinting at gay relationships between the characters? Personally I don't think that's how it works, but I feel like that's what they are hinting at or suggesting. 

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I just watched the entire series.  For me, this show was about freedom.  Miranda wanted to live in a world where she didn't have to marry anybody; Marion was in love with her teacher and Irma I think wanted to be away from her family.

I realized they had somehow traveled through time at the end, when they were on top of the rock, looked down and saw the search party looking for them, which was started the next day.  Then the girls hear someone coming and it's Hester, in the present, but Hester doesn't see the girls. 

Maybe the girls ended up a hundred years in the future, or even 2018 (which was why they threw away their corsets).  Miranda realized she could be who she wanted to be and didn't need to marry; Marion and the teacher could be together, at least in a few years.  Maybe Irma, who returned to 1900, didn't want to live in the future.  Irma liked Michael, though he liked Miranda better than Irma.  Irma maybe came back thinking Michael would marry her;  (remember Irma's comment about how surprised her mom would be if she married someone respectable?).  When Michael wouldn't marry her, Irma realized she made the wrong choice.

As for Michael, his uncle alluded to "something that happened in school" and I think his uncle said, "with that boy" or "with him."  I thought Michael was gay and liked Miranda because, to him, she was more like a man than a woman, someone he could hang out with and who wouldn't want to marry him (unlike Irma).

The deeply religious teacher looked like she had a sexual predator for a brother.

I don't know if I liked the show or not, but it kept me interested.

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9 hours ago, patty1h said:

Was it my imagination, or was there some UST (unresolved sexual tension) between Michael Fitzhubert and the grounds-keeper guy (GKG) who was helping him search for the girls?

Not your imagination. It was heavily implied. I think the show portrayed it well, and I liked the relationship between the two men.

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I had previously bailed mid-episode 3 but went back to finish out the series.  I should have paid more attention, so a few things got past me.  Can anyone elaborate the following:  why was Appleyard so pissed at orphan student Sarah (she who snooped and found secrets), and why was she holding her prisoner? It's not like Sarah was the only one who had dirt on Appleyard - the French teacher and the missing student Irma (or Miranda) also could have blown her cover. I was sad that Sarah didn't get back together with her brother - they were so close to meeting up. Last, did Sarah jump/fall from the tower or did Appleyard "help" her?

What was Appleyard running from? She had those mysterious visions (seeing older man in her bedroom) and flashbacks (hiding while a man was murdered in his bedroom; stabbing a man and jabbing her fingers in his wound). She met up with that guy from her past in the last episode, but I had trouble understanding their accents.  Was she a prostitute or a con-woman?  If anyone feels like elaborating...  thanks.

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5 hours ago, patty1h said:

why was Appleyard so pissed at orphan student Sarah (she who snooped and found secrets), and why was she holding her prisoner?

I think she saw herself in Sara (unwanted orphan) and part of Appleyard's mistreatment of Sara was her acting out her self-hatred. Also, without Miranda, Sara had no one to protect her, so Appleyard was free to bully and imprison her. And then there was the fact that Sara's guardian seemed to have disappeared, so it was like no one was going to come looking for Sara.

5 hours ago, patty1h said:

Last, did Sarah jump/fall from the tower or did Appleyard "help" her?

IIRC, this is never made clear in the book either. The implication is that Appleyard pushed her.

5 hours ago, patty1h said:

What was Appleyard running from? She had those mysterious visions (seeing older man in her bedroom) and flashbacks (hiding while a man was murdered in his bedroom; stabbing a man and jabbing her fingers in his wound). She met up with that guy from her past in the last episode, but I had trouble understanding their accents.  Was she a prostitute or a con-woman?

As I understood it, Hester was 'adopted' from an orphanage by Arthur (the older man she 'saw' in her bedroom). Arthur used her to rob from people and, when she got older (at least I hope so - although of course he may have used her as a child prostitute too), he prostituted her to rich men so they could steal from the men. Tomasetti (the guy from her past who turned up in Australia) was part of their 'gang'. I guess Hester snapped one day and murdered that one guy (or was it Arthur she murdered? I can't remember), which meant she had to get away or she would be arrested and hanged. She decided to get on a ship going to Australia, and saw the 'Appleyard' soap just before she left - which she then used as her new name.

Edited by purist
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Very strange series, and while it got a little too artsy for its own good a few times (and the girls undressing each other in slow motion got rather silly) it certainly kept my interest, and the unsettling atmosphere and mysterious disappearance was very memorable. Something about the white dresses and flashbacks and the creepy vibes mixed with the repressed society setting really made for an interesting story. I like that they kept things mysterious, and we were left with more questions then answers.  

I think Hanging Rock is some kind of time portal, or a place where lots of moments in time happen at the same time, which is why the girls saw the search party, even thought that happened at least a day after they went up there, and heard Appleyard walking up the mountain, and maybe thats where they went? They went to the past or the future, and just stayed there, except for Irma, who came back. Or, maybe they all ran away, and Irma decided to come home. Again, they keep it mysterious, and I liked that. Makes it, kind of ironically, more eerie when you dont know if its something supernatural, or not.

I definitely think that Michael had more than platonic friend feelings towards his friend. It seems like it ties in with the theme of the series, that people have secrets and hopes and dreams that cant be fulfilled in their society, and how that can create so many problems, both on a personal level, and societal level, and how petty those rules are. I do wish they had gone more into the race and class issues that they kind of wadded into, but never fully got into. I thought it was interesting what we got, and I would liked to see more, especially with the backstory of Marianne and her plans for the future. I also liked when they got into how these schools were basically factories for girls to become good wives, and to fit into their roles. Which also fits into the theme of people being forced into roles that they arent made for, and how thats such a harmful thing for society. And with Hanging Rock being this ancient, seemingly magical place, that has lived on forever, and might even be a time portal, which makes the society stuff even more silly, in the face of this timeless place where societies norms mean nothing. 

The acting was all quite good as well. I especially liked the French teacher, she was really likable. She really did seem to care about her students, and I was pretty worried about her. And the costumes and cinematography was great. I dont know if I "got" the show, but I am glad I watched it. 

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Oh, I'm the one who asked for the forum, when I was watching the first episode, but I didn't get any further than that, because I was getting over being sick, and I changed it to something lighter. I'm not sure that I want to finish it now.

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It felt half-baked.  The costumes were gorgeous, the girls were lovely, Natalie Dormer was great (though I preferred her in Game of Thrones) ... but the story felt flabby and refused to congeal.  And when the ghosts of Mrs. Appleyard's past failed to materialize after so much foreplay ... ho hum.   I had the same reaction when the secret of Mrs. Appleyard's tin was finally revealed: "you got your name from soap!"   Really?   That's your blackmail?

The religious fanaticism played no role other than to add another element of hysteria.   It should have furnished some thematic tension, chafing against the aboriginal pagan beliefs associated with the rock, but alas, no.   Even the theme of British colonialism/occupation vs. aboriginal displacement was all but lost. 

Meanwhile, the device of overt or latent homosexuality among the students, faculty, laborers and the local gentry seemed wickedly overdone.   I get that it defied the sexually repressed atmosphere of the age, but come on.   

In the end, the story made no sense.  A frothy confection, ultimately forgettable.

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I did not care much for the first episode, but I’m glad I hung in there. Some will probably call this heresy, but the series seemed to get The Handmaid’s Tale treatment - filling in the characters’ backstories, strong messaging of marginalization of women, and it was all wrapped up in stunningly beautiful cinematography. It seemed to get better as it went along, and what I initially thought was some incoherent storytelling was neatly wrapped up.

After the sixth episode, I returned to the first to rewatch some scenes, and I then realized the first episode was actually the weakest of the six. I’m wondering if people watched the first, got turned off, and perhaps did not give the rest a chance?

Having never seen Natalie Dormer in anything but GOT, I thought she was terribly miscast at first, but I was wrong. By the end, she was the most well-developed character of them all. I’d been curious about Appleyard’s background from the novel and movie, and this backstory was perfect.

I thought Marion, half white/half aborigine, was also an excellent add - she was brilliant and beautiful, and obviously cared for by her ashamed white politician father. He didn’t want the public to know of her existence, yet gave her a proper finishing school education and sent her “boxes of books” to feed her mind. The look in her eyes when she was told she would not get the husband (thus the life) she deserved was heart-breaking. I’m still not certain of her sexuality since the women were so isolated with hormones raging and the love between her and her teacher seemed more of an affair of the mind.   

I’m surprised so few people liked it on this board. I had this odd sense of thinking that the series could have easily been told in four episodes, yet feeling in the end that I wanted even more. Although I will always hold a place in my heart for Peter Weir’s movie, this version stayed with me for days after I watched it. I did not find it unforgettable. 

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Sorry for the serial post, but I’m am confused with Irma, and feel she might have been a loose end. Miranda, Marion, and the teacher all had cause to want to leave this time period. Irma, however, did not. She seemed perfectly happy with the role of women at that time, and her pain was generated specifically from being rejected by her parents. She didn’t need to leave the present the way the other three did. She seemed to fall neatly in love with her savior, accept her upcoming wife role, and chose to focus on her new husband instead of her parents’ abandonment. After Michael rejected her, though, there seems to be no closure to her story arc. Maybe I missed something?

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1 hour ago, Britneys Scrunchie said:

Sorry for the serial post, but I’m am confused with Irma, and feel she might have been a loose end. Miranda, Marion, and the teacher all had cause to want to leave this time period. Irma, however, did not.

I think that's why she came back. I don't know that the girls were expecting to go to a different time so much as just planning on running away. Irma was probably just caught up in the excitement of the others. When she realized this was all very real and she would be taken away from her time, she came back. I can't decide, though, if she really doesn't remember what happened, or if she is protecting the secret of the rock at it where. 

I did like the show more than dislike it. It was unsettling, the way it was filmed was purposely, I believe, unsettling, the angles, the odd camera changes. The storyline, the very narrow future they all had to look forward to is unsettling. I think it was a nice fleshing out of the original story. I did like the different desires of the three main girls. Miranda wanted to be free to be herself. Marion didn't want to be judged by her skin, and Irma I think was a standard bored little rich girl who just wanted something to make her feel alive. 

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3 hours ago, Mabinogia said:

I think that's why she came back. I don't know that the girls were expecting to go to a different time so much as just planning on running away. Irma was probably just caught up in the excitement of the others. When she realized this was all very real and she would be taken away from her time, she came back. I can't decide, though, if she really doesn't remember what happened, or if she is protecting the secret of the rock at it where. 

I did like the show more than dislike it. It was unsettling, the way it was filmed was purposely, I believe, unsettling, the angles, the odd camera changes. The storyline, the very narrow future they all had to look forward to is unsettling. I think it was a nice fleshing out of the original story. I did like the different desires of the three main girls. Miranda wanted to be free to be herself. Marion didn't want to be judged by her skin, and Irma I think was a standard bored little rich girl who just wanted something to make her feel alive. 

That’s what I concluded as well. It’s just that every character got closed out, even poor, self-loathing Edith. Irma, however, was left hanging. She spoke to the investigator, re-iterated that she would never speak of her time on the rock (which now I think she remembers, just won’t give away due to the pact), and escorts the gentleman out the door. There is no real conclusion for her, she is just living in this weird stasis. I thought everyone else’s narratives were well-explained except for Irma. And I thought that was out of sync, particularly given how much screen time she had. 

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I'm late to the party.  I have only watched 3 episodes and I will finish the next 3, but I am very confused by this story.  I never read the book & never saw the original film, so I'm coming at this totally unaware.  I sure hope the 2nd half answers a lot of my questions!  

I get that Hester/Miss Appleyard ran from her street life in London to start fresh in Australia.  Did she start her college to just get $$ from rich folks?  She obviously hates all the students.  Did she beat Sarah?  Is the college really just a dumping ground for wayward girls?  Or girls their parents feel have no or poor matchmaking potential? Why wouldn't Miranda's or Marion's or the teacher's families come to the school or at least send a representative to inquire where the Hell their girls are?  Reporters show up, but parents don't give a shit?

I assume Irma & Mike had some scandalous dalliance (or a close call) in their pasts, so they were shuffled off to the far-flung reaches of the realm where no one knew them.  Are their scandals revealed?  

After I finish this, I hope I'll feel there is some resolution.  Or that others here will be able to fill me in on WTF I have been watching.  On a side note, nice to see Yael Stone can do "crazy" in a period piece too!  Other than Natalie Dormer, she's the only actress I recognized.

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@BusyOctober, I'll have a go at answering your questions.

2 hours ago, BusyOctober said:

I get that Hester/Miss Appleyard ran from her street life in London to start fresh in Australia.  Did she start her college to just get $$ from rich folks?

Partly. I think she also wants to have a 'position' in society and mix with people at the highest levels, which she was never able to do in England.

2 hours ago, BusyOctober said:

Did she beat Sarah?

That seems to be the implication. But she also plays games with her up in the tower. Sara represents Appleyard's old self, when she was a poor unwanted orphan, and so Hester treats her alternately with love and with disdain.

2 hours ago, BusyOctober said:

Is the college really just a dumping ground for wayward girls?  Or girls their parents feel have no or poor matchmaking potential?

Neither. I'd say it's more a 'good school' that is mid-level - not as expensive or well connected as the top schools, but better than many others lower down the social totem pole. Most of the students at the school are average white girls whose parents are comfortably well-off but maybe not particularly notable.

2 hours ago, BusyOctober said:

Why wouldn't Miranda's or Marion's or the teacher's families come to the school or at least send a representative to inquire where the Hell their girls are?  Reporters show up, but parents don't give a shit?

The school is situated about 80 km (50 miles) from the nearest big city, which is Melbourne. Miranda's family are on a remote cattle station in Queensland, at least 3000 km (1800 miles) from Melbourne; Irma's family are travelling in Europe (or is it South America?); and I'm not sure where Marion's family are from but I assume it is some distance away. Even to send a representative from Melbourne would have been a big undertaking. As for the teachers, Mademoiselle de Poitiers' family is presumably in France, Miss Lumley only has her creepy brother (who does pop in every now and then), and Miss McCraw, at least in the books, is from Scotland and has no family in Australia.

2 hours ago, BusyOctober said:

I assume Irma & Mike had some scandalous dalliance (or a close call) in their pasts, so they were shuffled off to the far-flung reaches of the realm where no one knew them.  Are their scandals revealed?

Mike's is hinted at - I won't say what it is for fear of spoilers. There's no scandal in Irma's past, but her mother has remarried and it is insinuated that her stepfather has wandering hands and so Irma has been sent off to Australia to get her out of harm's way - or just out of the way because her mother doesn't trust her. (I may be misremembering that last part.)

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Thank you, purist! That helped a bit.   I figured the remoteness of 1900's Australia played a big part in lack of families buzzing around.  I will finish watching it this week & see if it held my interest enough to pick up the book.

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47 minutes ago, BusyOctober said:

I will finish watching it this week & see if it held my interest enough to pick up the book.

The makers of this series have taken a LOT of liberties with the plot and characters of the book. For example, in the book Appleyard is middle-aged and doesn't have the backstory that the TV series has given her; Marion isn't Indigenous and neither she nor Miss McCraw has Sapphic tendencies; and Sara never visits Miranda's family.

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On 9/11/2018 at 9:30 AM, purist said:

@BusyOctober, I'll have a go at answering your questions.

Partly. I think she also wants to have a 'position' in society and mix with people at the highest levels, which she was never able to do in England.

That seems to be the implication. But she also plays games with her up in the tower. Sara represents Appleyard's old self, when she was a poor unwanted orphan, and so Hester treats her alternately with love and with disdain.

Neither. I'd say it's more a 'good school' that is mid-level - not as expensive or well connected as the top schools, but better than many others lower down the social totem pole. Most of the students at the school are average white girls whose parents are comfortably well-off but maybe not particularly notable.

The school is situated about 80 km (50 miles) from the nearest big city, which is Melbourne. Miranda's family are on a remote cattle station in Queensland, at least 3000 km (1800 miles) from Melbourne; Irma's family are travelling in Europe (or is it South America?); and I'm not sure where Marion's family are from but I assume it is some distance away. Even to send a representative from Melbourne would have been a big undertaking. As for the teachers, Mademoiselle de Poitiers' family is presumably in France, Miss Lumley only has her creepy brother (who does pop in every now and then), and Miss McCraw, at least in the books, is from Scotland and has no family in Australia.

Mike's is hinted at - I won't say what it is for fear of spoilers. There's no scandal in Irma's past, but her mother has remarried and it is insinuated that her stepfather has wandering hands and so Irma has been sent off to Australia to get her out of harm's way - or just out of the way because her mother doesn't trust her. (I may be misremembering that last part.)

Mike is hinted to have had a sexual dalliance with a young man. I enjoyed his relationship with Sara’s brother the best. They seemed to care for each other. I wish them the best, and hope he doesn’t feel too guilty when he learns what happened to Sara. 

Irma was sent off because her new stepfather had waundering hands and her mother was jealous (not trying to protect her)- her own mother called her a slut. Poor girl. Despite being the “easy” thing I’m glad Mike didn’t marry her and make her miserable. 

On 9/11/2018 at 11:35 AM, purist said:

The makers of this series have taken a LOT of liberties with the plot and characters of the book. For example, in the book Appleyard is middle-aged and doesn't have the backstory that the TV series has given her; Marion isn't Indigenous and neither she nor Miss McCraw has Sapphic tendencies; and Sara never visits Miranda's family.

I haven’t read the book but I like the changes. Natalie Dormer is a great actress and the girls college set in the “wilderness” of the Australian countryside was a nice contrast. This was a fun series to watch. 

 

The homoerotic overtones fit with the story IMO. I’m sure more same sex sexual activity goes on at Boarding schools and other segregated environments with teens/young people than in Co-Ed environments (just like more same sex activity occurs in prison). Human sexuality is complex, and I’m sure for many (not all but many) they will find sexual and emotional intimacy where they can, even if they are primarily heterosexual. 

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