Heavenly Creatures (1994) Directed by Peter Jackson. Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet.

Heavenly Creatures tells a true life story of obsession and murder. Two teen-aged girls, one a beauty and one an outcast, share in intense fantasy life centered around movie star tenor Mario Lanza. Their dream world is illustrated by bizarre Claymation fantasy sequences. Eventually, they decide parental disregard can no longer be tolerated.

Authors are always accused of writing autobiography. One category for which this would probably not be true, is that of the murder mystery writer. But, Heavenly Creatures is about a notorious true murder that occurred in New Zealand in 1953, and one of the two teen-aged murderesses, described by the prosecution as “two highly intelligent and perfectly sane but precocious and dirty minded girls” grew up to be mystery writer Anne Perry.

Heavenly Creatures is about the power one person can have over another; one reviewer described it as “puppy love turned rabid.” Juliet and Pauline adore each other with a romantic abandon that cannot be labeled. Bonded by their experiences with the childhood illnesses that isolated them, they create a kingdom, Borovnia, over which they have total control. Director Peter Jackson makes the viewer feel as if we are inside the girls blended egos, and anyone who tries to break the spell of The Fourth World, does so at their peril.

Writing was always central to their relationship. They wrote novels which they planned to publish and conducted a feverish correspondence. But, the substance of their writings gradually changed from the highly imaginative outpourings of adolescents to an increasingly morbid preoccupation with evil. Their letters vied with one another as to who could create the most bloodshed and sudden death. They referred to the fictional characters they created as their families. As early as 4 years after the case, a journalist reviewing the case predicted Juliet Hulme (played here by Kate Winslet in her first film)” will be the one who will serve a short sentence, and it is possible that, under another name, the world will in time recognize a writer of talent.”

As an adult, Anne Perry has created another imaginary kingdom, which she calls “Victorian England.” As do many mystery writers, she controls a kingdom of characters that recur in a series of novels. By far, the most interesting is William Monk. In the first novel in which he appears, “The Face of a Stranger,” he is a victim of amnesia and at one point suspects he is the murderer he is seeking as a police inspector. Perry writes: “Could it be he was mad? His brain had been damaged even before the accident? He had forgotten what he had done because it was another self that had enacted such a hideousness, and the self he was in now knew nothing of it, was unaware even of its lusts and compulsions, its very existence? And there had been feeling-inescapable, consuming and appalling feeling, a passion of hate. Was it possible?”

Juliet Hulme said “we do believe we are geniuses.” The prosecution said, “They are not incurable insane. They are incurably bad.”

c. Moviediva2000