|"Can you imagine me walking into an executive's office and pitching a film about two girls who do this cold-blooded, sort of premeditated murder and making them and their victim sympathetic. Can you imagine me saying I want to make a film where ultimately the motive for the murder is not that obvious."|
|— Peter Jackson on the film's "totally un-Hollywood concept."|
The notion of making Heavenly Creatures began with screenwriter Fran Walsh, who had collaborated with Peter Jackson on Meet the Feebles and Braindead. Jackson was attracted to the story because of its complexity of "two people who are not evil, not psychopaths but totally out of their depth. Their emotions got out of control." Heavenly Creatures was financed by the New Zealand Film Commission and German financiers.
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.Empty citation (help) Kate Winslet, at seventeen-years-old, auditioned for the part of Juliet, winning the role over 175 other girls. Jackson and Walsh were impressed by Winslet's "fierce intelligence, her mature view of the world (which was way beyond her years)."
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.
Jackson said he had initially imagined using actors dressed in medieval clothes. Then he met someone who had visited Juliet's home in the 1950's and remembered seeing Plasticine figures that the girl had carefully constructed. "I thought: 'What a fascinating idea. Why don't we have Pauline and Juliet entering into a world populated by Plasticine figures rather than actors wearing costumes.'"
Miramax delayed the release of Heavenly Creatures for almost a year, and we had no choice but to wait for the film's premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
Heavenly Creatures premiered at the Venice Festival last September to keen critical interest: the New York Daily News singled out Winslet's "crazy exuberance", whil e Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times praised the way her character "always exists just this side of hysteria". Heavenly Creatures opens in Britain on 10 February.
The film, recently released by Miramax Films, won prizes at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, and has opened to generally strong reviews in New York and Los Angeles.
The so-called Parker-Hulme murder case returned to the headlines last summer with the news that Juliet Hulme, who had been convicted of helping murder her friend's mother, was living quietly in a Scottish village and successfully writing mysteries under the name Anne Perry. The whereabouts of her friend, Pauline, is unknown. The two girls, after serving about five years in separate prisons, were given new identities and placed on parole for about another five years. The two have apparently not seen each other in more than 40 years. Jackson said he deplored a continuing hunt by the news media for Pauline Parker. "It's horrible," he said. "It's not that these girls are Nazi war criminals." As for Miss Hulme, she has mostly kept to herself. She took no part in making the film and will not profit from it.
When Heavenly Creatures opened last fall, Miramax downplayed the New Zealand film's true-crime connection. The year's most seductive thriller! read one ad showing both murderous girls' faces. But now that the movie has boosted novelist Anne Perry-who identified herself as one of the guilty teens- to new fame, Miramax lays it all on the slab in its fifth and latest ad (pictured). Above the image of a single felon in spaghetti straps is Murder, She Wrote! The true story of the mystery writer who committed murder herself.
Two weeks ago we showed you a Heavenly Creatures ad that played upon the new fame of mystery writer Anne Perry, whose adolescent crime the Miramax movie recounts. One hand washes the other, right? Wrong. The latest print ad for Creatures is a 200-word open letter to Perry that asks her to stop bad-mouthing the movie. Says Miramax's Mark Gill: We ran out of patience with her bashing the film without having seen it.
- Owen Gleiberman (1994-12-30). "The Best and Worst 1994/Movies". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
(Nov. 16, limited)
Established the relationship between Miramax.
Launched Winslet's career. Debut film.
- Bernard Weinraub (1994-11-24). "Making a Film Out of the Horror of Mother Murder". The New York Times.
- Peter Jackson (2009-04-30). "The 2009 TIME 100: Kate Winslet". Time. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- Staff (1994-12-29). "And Watch These Faces . ." The Independent. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Chris Nashawaty (1995-03-17). "More Barrymore". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- Chris Nashawaty (1995-03-31). "Better days for 'Worse'?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- "Heavenly Creatures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- Staff (1994-11-18). "Holiday Preview". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- Laura M. Holson (2003-11-09). "The Way We Live Now: 11.9.03: Process; A Franchise Fantasy". The New York Times.
- Peter Jackson: A Film-maker's Biography
- Peter Jackson: From Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings
- Peter Jackson: From Gore to Mordor