Heavenly Creatures: Wikis


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Heavenly Creatures

Heavenly Creatures film poster
Directed by Peter Jackson
Produced by Jim Booth
Written by Fran Walsh
Peter Jackson
Starring Melanie Lynskey
Kate Winslet
Music by Peter Dasent
Cinematography Alun Bollinger
Editing by Jamie Selkirk
Studio WingNut Films
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date(s) October 14, 1994 (New Zealand)
November 16, 1994 (US)
September 12, 1995 (Canada)
January 8, 1995 (Australia)
Running time 108 min.
Country  New Zealand
Language English
Budget $5,000,000 (est.)

Heavenly Creatures is a 1994 drama film directed by Peter Jackson and written with his partner Fran Walsh. The film stars Melanie Lynskey as Pauline Parker, Kate Winslet as Juliet Hulme and Sarah Peirse as Honora Rieper and deals with the obsessive relationship between Parker and Hulme, who murder Parker's mother to avoid facing a potential separation when the mother fears that their relationship is bordering on homosexuality. The film is presented from the girls meeting in early 1953 to the murder in 1954.

Filmed on location in Christchurch, New Zealand, Heavenly Creatures is based on the notorious 1954 Parker-Hulme murder committed by two teenage girls. Instead of focusing on the famous trial and court proceedings of the two girls, Jackson and his accosiates Fran Walsh and the late Jim Booth (who died during production), decided to focus on the friendship aspect between the two girls which ultimately resulted in the mother's murder. The film, whilst departing strongly from Jackson's former graphic slap stick productions, retains his elaborate fantasy sequences which are used to demonstrate the imaginary world of the main characters, these sequences are re-created entirely from clay. Additionally, the film is notable for being Kate Winslet's first film credit, who has since become an "A-list" actress.

Heavenly Creatures opened to strong critical acclaim at the Venice Film Festival in 1994; it became one of the most well-recieved films of the year. Reviewers praised most aspects of the production, however particular attention was given to the performances by a previously unkwnown Kate Winslet, her co-star Melanie Lunskey and for Jackson's directing achievements. The film also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and various other honours and rewards. Success in its advanced screenings led to international distribution outside of New Zealand, allowing Heavenly Creatures to gain significant recognition as a cult film with the production of a "Director's cut".



In 1950s Christchurch, New Zealand, a fourteen year old girl from a working class family Pauline Parker (Lynskey) befriends the more affluent English fifteen year old Juliet Hulme (Winslet) when Juliet transfers to Pauline's school. Together they create fantasy worlds and become close friends. Over the course of two years, their friendship grows more and more intense. Juliet invites Pauline to her home in Ilam, a suburb of Christchurch. Pauline finds herself amazed by the wealth of Juliet's family. The girls soon develop a fantasy kingdom called Borovnia, and begin to dress up and enact the adventures of the royal family. They then write out the storylines as short novels, which they hope to publish in America. At the same time, they begin inventing a quasi-religion centred around an imaginary place called 'The Fourth World', where they worship their favorite film stars and opera singers as saints.

Juliet has an attack of tuberculosis and is sent to a clinic. Pauline is desolate without her, and the two begin an intense correspondence, writing not only as themselves, but in the roles of the royal couple. Pauline, who sleeps in one of the small rooms that are a part of the boarding house her parents run, is courted unromantically by John, one of the boarders who is in love with her, and she loses the small amount of privacy she has, when the man is discovered in bed with her by her father. After four months, Juliet is released from the clinic and their relationship continues. Pauline records their relationship in a diary, which was given to her by her father for Christmas. The girls' relationship has progressed and become incredibly strong. Juliet’s father arrives at the Parker house and discusses the girls' intense relationship. He insists that Pauline’s mother, Honora, must take Pauline to a doctor. The doctor suggests Pauline may be homosexual - regarded as a mental illness in 1950's New Zealand. The parents agree that the girls must be separated. They will be allowed to spend two weeks together before Juliet moves to South Africa to live with her aunt Enna, ostensibly for the warmer climate. The girls plan, unsucessfully, to run away together to America. They plot together the murder of Pauline’s mother, Honora, whom they perceive as the main obstacle to their happiness. Juliet is nervous, but Pauline says she feels extremely excited about the murder. Honora, Pauline and Juliet arrive at Victoria Park. They have snacks at a teahouse, and then venture down a track where the girls ambush Honora and attack her using a brick in a stocking. While she is examining a pink stone that the girls planted on the track, they bludgeon her to death, smashing her head to pulp with their improvised blackjack.





Fran Walsh suggested to Peter Jackson (who was famous for horror-comedy films at the time) that they write a film about the notorious Parker-Hulme murder. Jackson took the idea to his long-time collaborator, producer Jim Booth (who died after filming). The three filmmakers decided that the film should tell the story of the friendship between the two girls rather than focus on the murder and trial. "The friendship was for the most part a rich and rewarding one, and we tried to honour that in the film. It was our intention to make a film about a friendship that went terribly wrong," said Peter Jackson.[1]

Fran Walsh had been interested in the case since her early childhood. "I first came across it in the late sixties when I was ten years old.[1] The Sunday Times devoted two whole pages to the story with an accompanying illustration of the two girls. I was struck by the description of the dark and mysterious friendship that existed between them - by the uniqueness of the world the two girls had created for themselves."

Jackson and Walsh researched the story by reading contemporary newspaper accounts of the trial. They decided that the sensational aspects of the case that so titillated newspaper readers in 1954 were far removed from the story that Jackson and Walsh wished to tell. "In the 1950s, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme were branded as possibly the most evil people on earth. What they had done seemed without rational explanation, and people could only assume that there was something terribly wrong with their minds," states Jackson. To bring a more humane version of events to the screen, the filmmakers undertook a nationwide search for people who had close involvement with Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme forty years earlier. This included tracing and interviewing seventeen of their former classmates and teachers from Christchurch Girls' High School. In addition, Jackson and Walsh spoke with neighbours, family friends, work colleagues, policemen, lawyers and psychologists. Jackson and Walsh also read Pauline's diary, in which she made daily entries documenting her friendship with Juliet Hulme and events throughout their relationship. From the diary entries, it became apparent that Pauline and Juliet were intelligent, imaginative, outcast young women who possessed a wicked and somewhat irreverent sense of humor. All of Pauline's voiceovers are excerpts from her journal entries.


The role of Pauline was cast after Fran Walsh scouted schools all over New Zealand to find a Pauline 'look-alike'. She had trouble finding an actress who resembled Pauline and had acting talent before discovering Melanie Lynskey. Kate Winslet auditioned for the part of Juliet, winning the role over 175 other girls.[2] The girls were both absorbed by their role so much that they kept on acting as Pauline and Juliet after the filming was done, as is described on Jackson's website. The filming of the murder scene had an impact on them as the viewing of the film has to some viewers.


A scene right before the murder at Victoria Park, which was filmed in almost the exact location the murder actually occurred

The entire film was filmed on location in Christchurch city in the South Island of New Zealand. Jackson has been quoted as saying "Heavenly Creatures is based on a true story, and as such I felt it important to shoot the movie on locations where the actual events took place."[1]

Almost all locations used for filming were the genuine locations where the events occurred. The tea shop where Honora Parker ate her last meal was knocked down a few days after the shoot ended. According to director Peter Jackson, when they got to the location of the murder on the dirt path, it was eerily quiet; the birds stopped singing, and it didn't seem right so they moved along a couple of hundred yards.[citation needed]

Special effects

The special effects in the film were handled by the then newly-created Weta Digital. The girls' fantasy life, and the "Borovnian" extras (the characters the girls made up) were supervised by Richard Taylor while the digital effects were supervised by George Port. Taylor and his team constructed over 70 full-sized latex costumes to represent the "Borovnian" crowds—plasticine figures that inhabit Pauline and Juliet's magical fantasy world. Heavenly Creatures contains over thirty shots that were digitally manipulated ranging from the morphing garden of the "Fourth World," to castles in fields, to the "Orson Welles" sequences.


Heavenly Creatures was not a huge box office success, but performed admirably in various countries, including the United States where it grossed a total of $3,049,135 during its limited run in 57 theaters and $5,438,120 worldwide.

Heavenly Creatures has garnered critical praise, and was an Academy Award nominee in 1994 for Best Original Screenplay. It featured in a number of international film festivals, and received very favourable reviews worldwide,[citation needed] including making top ten of the year lists in Time, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The New Zealand Herald.

The success of Heavenly Creatures won Peter Jackson attention from American company Miramax, who promoted the film vigorously in America and signed him to a first look deal and launched the career of Kate Winslet. However, the media coverage didn't extend to Melanie Lynskey and, for a couple of years, she could not get any significant acting roles. The film's international release coincided with members of the New Zealand media tracking down the real-life Juliet Hulme, who now wrote murder mysteries in Scotland under the name Anne Perry. Up until this point, Jackson had been careful in interviews not to reveal this information, although he argued that her identity had already been common knowledge in some New Zealand theatrical circles as early as 1992. This turn of events saw the expression of some contrasting views between Jackson, Walsh and Hulme in interviews, about the film's fidelity to what had occurred (although Hulme admitted she had not seen the film, and had no desire to.)

In 1996, the movie was released on videocassette, but has since gone out of print. Over the past few years, the film has received DVD releases in Region 1, Region 2 and Region 4 formats. However, it has never been released in the UK on DVD.


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Heavenly Creatures is a 1994 drama directed by Peter Jackson which is based on the 1954 Parker-Hulme murder. It stars Melanie Lynskey as Pauline Parker and Kate Winslet and Juliet Hulme.


Pauline Parker

  • She is most unreasonable. Why could not mother die? Dozens of people are dying all the time, thousands, so why not mother? And father too.
  • [voiceover, from her diary] We have decided how sad it is for others that they cannot appreciate our genius.
  • [narrating] We realised why Deborah and I have such extraordinary telepathy and why people treat us and look at us the way they do. It is because we are MAD. We are both stark raving MAD!
  • [narrating] This notion is not a new one but this time it is a definite plan which we intend to carry out. We have worked it out carefully and are both thrilled by the idea. Naturally we feel a trifle nervous, but the pleasure of anticipation is great.
  • [narration] The next time I write in this diary, Mother will be dead. How odd... yet how pleasing.
  • It's a three act story with a tragic end.

Juliet Hulme

  • Only the best people fight against all obstacles in pursuit of happiness.
  • All the best people have bad chests and bone diseases. It's all frightfully romantic.
  • Stick it up your bottom!
  • [speaking too brightly of the murder of Honora Parker] I think she knows what's going to happen. She doesn't appear to bear us any grudge.


[first lines]
[Juliet and Pauline are running screaming up the hill covered in blood, the scene intercuts with black and white scenes of them running across the deck of a ship towards Dr and Mrs Hulme]
Juliet Hulme: Mummy!
Pauline Parker: Mummy!
Juliet Hulme: Mummmmy!
[the scene changes from the ship to the hilltop tea-house. The girls are screaming hysterically as the tea-house woman runs out to see what the noise is all about]
Pauline Parker: It's Mummy! She's terribly hurt!
Juliet Hulme: Please! Help us!

[last lines]
[the last lines show scenes of the murder intercut with b&w shots of Juliet being taken away by her parents on the ship. Pauline and Juliet are sobbing and screaming for each other; and the girls scream as they beat Honorah Parker to death]
Juliet Hulme: Gina!
[sobs as she reaches a hand over the ship railing]
Pauline Parker: Juliet, don't leave! I'm coming! Don't go! You can't! Oh, no!
[as the girls cry and reach helplessly toward each other, Juliet's parents come and stand on either side of her, trying to comfort her]
Juliet Hulme: I'm sorry...
[Pauline screams, and the b&w scene fades into the murder scene] Pauline Parker No! [That last bloody shot fades into the credits]

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