October 10, 2004

Heavenly Creatures

There are many who do not realize that Peter Jackson did a couple of films before he did the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And if they are aware of this, they probably don't know the titles of those movies. This one caught my eye on the Sundance schedule purely because Jackson directed it, and I thought my wife Lucy might want to give it a try for this reason, which she did. However, I was prepared to stay up past 11 because of the subject matter. Jackson's involvement only heightened my interest.

By the way, like the first hobbit movie, Jackson has a deftly placed cameo appearance as a homeless guy. Remarkably reminiscent of his microseconds-long appearance in Fellowship.

This movie is based in fact, about two teenage girls in 1954 New Zealand. One is a daughter of a college president, and the other of a more working class background, yet they both wind up in the same school. They both have physical deficiencies which preclude them from athletic activity so they are left alone to talk during gym class. They form a powerful bond, which evolves into a homosexual relationship, and that becomes so obsessive that when one's mother becomes an obstacle to the liaison, they decide to kill her.

The screenplay seems to be based largely on one girl's diaries, which were used as damning evidence in their trial. The fantasies that the girls engage in are a big part of the story, and when you see how Jackson portrays these, you can't help thinking that he already had Tolkien on his mind when he was making this film. One of the girls makes clay figures, which come to life on screen in the minds of the girls.

We noticed from the opening credits that the personnel working on Heavenly Creatures was much the same as the Rings trilogy. And they did a great job, though they obviously didn't have the budget to work with that they did on their adventures in Middle Earth.

Heavenly Creatures is actually quite well done I thought. This was Kate Winslet's first film, and her talent is very apparent. You can see how her career took off.

Both of the girls were crazy to begin with, and when they got together their insanity was increased by a power of two. Disaster was unavoidable once they met, and Jackson actually made an almost entertaining story out of it. I can now see how he got the backing to put Tolkien on the big screen even though his portfolio was a bit thin. I need to find his other film, Dead Alive.

Posted by Wayne at October 10, 2004 03:51 PM

I watched ‘Heavenly Creatures’ before ‘Lord of the Rings’, and your notion about Jackson already thinking of Middle Earth while creating the fantasy sequences in ‘Heavenly Creatures’ is interesting. Could it be a filmmaker’s warm-up perhaps?

On the other hand, it’s a bit unfair to ‘Heavenly Creatures’ to suggest that. It’s a great film. Had Jackson not went on to make the Rings Trilogy, it might be his best. Actually, even though he went on to make the Ring Trilogy it still might be his best. Or maybe I just like Kate Winslet too much.

Posted by: Quack Corleone at October 10, 2004 06:42 PM

This film showed that Jackson is into portraying fairytale type fantasy on the screen. This story certainly didn't demand it. He found that fantasy aspect and decided to run with it.

Thanks for stopping by! I like your blog too.

Posted by: Wayne at October 10, 2004 10:22 PM

"Heavenly Creatures" is one of the best and most imaginative films of the 90s. I have been a fan of Jackson's ever since I found "Brain Dead" at a local video story back when it was new, but as much fun as his early films are, "Creatures" was a huge leap into unexplored territory. I didn't much care for the Tolkien films and I don't think the world needs another "King Kong" remake, so I worry that he will never make another film as good as "Creatures" again. Incidently, since you didn't mention it, the character played by Winslet grew up to be the mystery novelist Anne Perry. I don't think Perry has ever made any comment on the film or her past...

Posted by: Robert at October 10, 2004 10:54 PM

I guess I didn't realize that Heavenly Creatures is so significant. I guess I should have liked it more than I did. I must remember to research how important these movies are before I watch them.

Posted by: Wayne at October 11, 2004 09:25 PM

What about Forgotten Silver, Meet the Feebles, and Bad Taste?

Posted by: Scott at October 14, 2004 03:28 PM
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