This movie directed by Peter Jackson and starring Kate Winslet in her first acting role is based on the true life story of two 15 year old girls that shocked a nation with murder.
Heavenly Creatures: The Uncut Version
Directors: Peter Jackson
Producers: Jim Booth
Writers: Peter Jackson And Frances Walsh
Features: Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital Surround Sound And Theatrical Trailer.
Pauline Parker...Melanie Lynskey
Juliete Hulme...Kate Winslow
Hilda Hulme...Diana Kent
Henry Hulme...Clive Merrison
Herbert... Simon O'Connor
"Heavenly Creatures: The Uncut Version" is about madness. This story takes place in the era of the early fifties with it's pristine suburbia. World War II has started to fade from people's memories with it's own madness. Peter Jackson, the director of the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy is concerned about the real life madness that afflicted two teenage girls in New Zealand and caused them to commit murder. At this time in the world's history the circumstances of the murder were more anomalies than they would be in today's era of global communication. Murder by two sweet fifteen year old girls was very unusual for this time period. More unusual was that one of the girls kept a journal of her and her girlfriend's descent into darkness. The words in those diaries written by Pauline Yvonne Parker who is played in this movie by Melanie Lynskey are used to follow the arcane fellowship she had with Juliete Marion Hulme played by Kate Winslet("Titanic") in her first acting role.
The film begins as a fifties film travelogue of Churchschool, New Zealand is shown on screen ephasizing the tranquility of this city and the fact that it is a bicycle friendly city with only Copenhagen having more bicycles. Girls' screams are heard and the travelogue is displaced by two girls running toward the audience covered in blood. Then there is a fadeaway to black and some written statements appear on the screen remarking on how Pauline Yvonne Parker kept diaries recording her friendship with Juliet Marion Hulme. It is also mentioned that direct quotations from these diaries would be used throughout the film as voiceovers. Then the movie opens to the Christchurch Girl High School in 1952 as a new, snooty faced girl named Juliete Hulme is introduced to an English Studies class. Pauline is in the class drawing horses on a sketch pad. Later the two are in an Art class together and are paired by the teacher to do drawings of each other. The normally quiet and withdrawn Pauline is mesmerized by the vivacious, aristocratic bearing Juliete and soon the two are inseparable; Pauline having someone that acknowledges her existence and Juliete having someone that adores her bright ideas and wit.
Juliete has a total dominance over Pauline. It is first apparent when Pauline brings home a record album of Mario Lanza, a world renowned tenor of the fifties who was a movie matinee idol in the movies also. Pauline is in rapture to hear Mario Lanza belt out his songs, but it is really her way of showing the world that she is now different and for the first time in her young life even better than the people around her. She has her new friend Juliete to thank for this. As time passes the girls develop an unnatural fascination with each other that hints at lesbianism and eventually becomes lesbianism. Pauline, still at fourteen, has a short relationship with one of the young adult borders that her family rents to, but he is not long in her and Juliete's world when Juliete lets it known that she disapproves of a lack of attention by Pauline. Pauline was only able to seek comfort from him by imagining that he was one of the heavenly creatures that inhabited her's and Juliete's vison of a Fourth World. In this world, according to Juliete, no Christians would be allowed only artists who would be called saints such as James Mason, an actor and Mario Lanza. When Pauline tries to add Orson Welles to the list of saints, Juliete rejects him as being too ugly. The absence of Christians from their world probably stems from the girls living their young lives under the strict instructors in Christian schools. Even their shortcomings such as Pauline's scars on her legs from a bone disease that kept her in bed for two years and Juliete's lung scars from a respiratory disease that had her parents ship her to a warm climate without them are twisted by Juliete to explain that they are better than others, "All the best people have bad chests and bone diseases." Soon Pauline is ashamed of her parents' status in life as she is now spending most of her time at Juliete's parent's estate. Juliete's father is a rector at a local university and her mother has a practice as a marriage counselor. When Juliete's mother, Hilda(Diana Kent), remarking on how much time Pauline spends at their house kiddingly refers to her as her foster daughter, Pauline is ecstatic. Blinded by their social rank, Pauline does not see that even Juliete's parents have personal problems. For Pauline this is her Fourth World on earth. Juliete does not show that she is aware of any family conflicts preferring to stay in her Fourth World.
For this film's depiction of the girl's Fourth World, Peter Jackson has created a medieval style world inhabited by living clay creatures that represent the fabrications of the two girls. At home Pauline makes small statues of these fantasy beings. When the girls fantasize this is where they are transported. Pauline becomes a member of the Royal family named Charles and Juliete becomes Deborah, Charles' queen. In English Studies Juliete reads a story she wrote about the Royal family who have a son named Dielo who bares a striking resemblance to Orson Welles and kills people that are not liked. Obviously, Juliete is not aware of Pauline's representation of their son's facial features. Pauline has secretly rebelled against Juliete's dominance by creating a heavenly creature with the visage of Juliete's hated actor, Orson Welles.
It might have been Peter Jackson's fantasy sequences showing the mental disaray of the girl's minds that got him considered for the directors job for the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy. This movie appears to be a cut and dry story of insanity leading to murder, yet Jackson has taken it way beyond that. He has populated this film with unicorns, giant butterflies and castles, all with over the top special effects. Jackson has panoramic shots of the girls on a hill reminiscent of "The Sound Of Music." The girls build an elaborate sandcastle at the beach which they and director Peter Jackson bring to life as a part of the Fourth World. The camera navigates through sandcastle hallways and stairways as the girls, looking in through the castle windows, dream about the life of their Royals. Working on a small film it can be seen that Peter Jackson still thought on a larger scale.
Pauline sees her heaven slipping away when Juliet's father is let go of his job due to his lack of concentration, probably brought on by his wife's infidelities. In fact, when Juliete's father tries to separate the two due to their strange attraction to each other it can be seen as his way of trying to have control over some part of his family. The family that Pauline had considered herself a part of now has to leave New Zealand. In her delusional mind, Pauline can only see her mother(Sarah Peirse) as the obstacle that keeps her from her foster family. Enlisting Juliete's aid, Pauline plans a way to be reunited with the only family she cares about that sends both girls over the edge of reality and into history.
Peter Jackson does not shy away from showing the young girls' sexuality. He has them scampering through the forest in their underwear as they develop their strange friendship. Pauline's slight departure from Juilet with her male suitor is shown with the two in bed together. A couple of times in the movie the girls spend time together in a large bathtub while Mr. Hulme(Clive Merrison) listens outside the bathroom door and starts to wonder what is happening between the two. Kate Winslet who has made a career of sexually frank movies has her beginnings here. Since I have not seen the original version of this film I do not know what has been added in this uncut version.
When the movie "Heavenly Creatures" appeared in 1994 it caused a reawakening of interest in the two girls. It was found out that Juliete Hulme is now a mystery writer named Anne Perry. Pauline changed her name to Hilary Nathan and now lives in seclusion near Kent, England.
This movie takes a very intricate journey into the mind's of these two girls and keeps the viewer entertained with their progression to murder while at the same time having the viewer gain empathy for their state of being. This movie is very suspenseful as a bad ending can be seen coming with there being no way to avoid it. This is definitely a film to buy or rent on DVD.
I would give this DVD five out of five stars.