Spark’s Brodie sometimes took the girls into the Marcia Blaine school garden for a lesson. But it was a lesson and not a picnic. But Ronald Neame’s film picnic with Jean Brodie and her girls is his own invention.
For the film, Neame and screenwriter Jay Pressen decided to expand the outdoor lesson and present it as a “refreshment alfresco,” illustrating Brodie’s disregard for established school patterns. She is aware of the possible consequences but flaunts them, even waving to Miss Mackay, who is watching them. “I wonder how many more picnics we will be allowed,” Brodie says, “before Miss Mackay thinks fit to patrol the grounds.”
This picnic cements Brodie’s fondness for this particular group of girls, known as the Brodie set: Sandy, Jenny, Monica, and Mary. She introduces them one at a time, to Mr. Lowther, who has joined them, ending with Sandy, who she agrees is dependable. In retrospect, when Sandy’s dependability is sorely tested, she betrays Brodie’s flaws to Miss Mackay. And Brodie is sacked.
Featured Image: “These years are still the years of my prime. It is important to recognize the years of one’s prime; always remember that.” Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) and. Sandy Stranger (Pamela Franklin) is seated far left.
See Muriel Spark. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. London: Macmillan, 1961; Ronald Neame. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). Jay Pressen’s screenplay is a creative adaptation of Spark’s novel. The picnic is available for viewing at Picnicsonfilm.org.