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The story concerns Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, outcasts who become best friends, whose bizarre fantasy life becomes more intense as their bond becomes increasingly more obsessive. When Pauline's mother tries to intervene and split the girls apart, they bring about a terrible revenge, resulting in what is to this day still a celebrated and controversial case.
For more about Heavenly Creatures and the Heavenly Creatures Blu-ray release, see the Heavenly Creatures Blu-ray Review
Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent, Clive Merrison
Director: Peter Jackson
» See full cast & crew
Heavenly Creatures Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 25, 2011
Winner of Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, Peter Jackson's "Heavenly Creatures" (1994) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Peccadillo Pictures. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; interviews with film critic Kim Newman, Total Film news editor Rosie Fletcher, and film critic Alan Jones; and a gallery of stills from the film. The disc also arrives with four beautiful limited edition postcards. In English, without optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures tells two very different stories. One is about a beautiful relationship, the other about a terrible crime. These stories are based on facts, but there is plenty in them that isn't.
Christchurch, New Zealand, 1952-1954. Two girls, one 15 the other 17, become very close friends. Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey, Show of Hands, Helena from the Wedding), the younger one, is from a poor family and dreaming about being a writer. She is also one of the best students in her class, always willing to learn something new. She is, however, too shy, which is why most of the time she is ignored by her classmates
Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet, Hideous Kinky, Holy Smoke) is smart, bright, loud and full of attitude. She does not mind correcting her teachers or telling her parents exactly how she feels about them. Like Pauline, she does not have any good friends.
Pauline and Juliet are drawn to each other because they both love literature and believe that a fantasy world named Borovnia exists. When they become frustrated with the real world, they like to visit Borovnia because life there is a lot more exciting and full of unknown pleasures. During one of their visits, they kiss. Eventually, the two girls become so close that their parents begin to worry that "something might be wrong".
Then, one day Juliet contracts tuberculosis.
The two girls are absolutely devastated because among many other things they can no longer visit their beloved Borovnia. Feeling lonely, Pauline decides that it is time to become a woman and quickly loses her virginity to a good-hearted boy who falls madly in love with her. When her mother discovers what she has done, she goes berserk - but so does Pauline. Shortly after, she visits Juliet and the two agree to repair their relationship by eliminating Juliet's mother.
Jackson's maneuvers between the real world and Borovnia are very impressive. In the former, Pauline and Juliet easily connect but become frustrated by the logic their parents inject in it. Like deadly poison, it slowly destroys their relationship. Things are very different in Borovnia, where the girls can roam freely and tell each other exactly how they feel about everything that matters in their lives. Jackson's ability to bring these two worlds together is what makes the film so fascinating to behold.
Something else that is also important to note is the fact that the film does not judge its characters or the time they live in. The focus of attention is exclusively on the unusual bond between the girls, their emotions and feelings, not how they are perceived by those around them.
The film's finale is shocking but, as bizarre as it may sound, perhaps not entirely unexpected. If one views the events the film chronicles strictly from the girls' point of view, what takes place at the end, sadly, is almost inevitable.
Heavenly Creatures is the film that catapulted Winslet to international fame – and rightfully so. Her performance is incredibly intense and moving, particularly during the second half of the film, after she contracts tuberculosis. Lynskey is also terrific as her shy and desperate to be loved friend.
Note: In 1994, Heavenly Creatures won Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. A year later, the film also won nine awards, including Best Director, Best Actress (Melanie Lynskey), and Best Film Score Best Film Score (Peter Dasent) at the New Zealand Film and TV Awards.
Heavenly Creatures Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Peccadillo Pictures.
Note: I was informed by the British distributors that a few early Blu-ray copies have a manufacturing defect - instead of gravitating at around 30 MB per second, the bit rate would be at approximately 9/10. The copy I received is one of these defective discs. Therefore, I will only offer some generic comments in my review as I don't feel comfortable addressing the picture quality in detail without having seen one of the good discs.
Perhaps the only positive thing I could say about the high-definition transfer is that it allows some of the close-ups to breathe (see screencapture #5). However, there are numerous traces of post-production sharpening that make the film look quite harsh. This is particularly obvious during the daylight scenes (see screencapture #4) where detail is also notably compromised. There is mild to moderate background shimmer as well, but I cannot categorically state at the moment whether it is part of the high-definition transfer or or a byproduct of the improper encoding. However, I feel very conformable stating that the color-scheme is vastly superior to that of the old R1 SDVD, which Miramax released in the United States. The blues and reds, in particular, look quite good. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA in order to access its content. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Heavenly Creatures Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0. For the record, Peccadillo Pictures have not provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The fact that the Blu-ray does not contain a loseless audio track of some sort is indeed rather disappointing. Clearly, the film demands one because Peter Dasent 's score has a very important role. There are various sound effects during the dream sequences that also would have benefited a great deal. This being said, the dialog is consistently crisp, clean, clear, and easy to follow, as well as free of pops, cracks, or hiss. Optional English subtitles should have been included as I assume that some viewers would likely find the accents in the film a bit distracting.
Heavenly Creatures Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Heavenly Creatures Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I know for a fact that Peccadillo Pictures wanted to have a special Blu-ray release for Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures because they were well aware that the Canadian Blu-ray release was not in the proper aspect ratio. Quite some time ago I was also informed that the master they had to work with from Senator and Miramax was seriously damaged, which is why they had to repair and remaster it on their own. As far as supplemental features are concerned, they could not get anything substantial from Peter Jackson and Wingnut. In other words, it looks like they've done what they could with the materials they could access. I still want to see a good disc before I offer my final thoughts on this release, though. (Because the system does not allow me to leave N/A for the total score, I have left a temporary 3, which does not take into account the video treatment).
Heavenly Creatures Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Heavenly Creatures Blu-ray - September 28, 2011
In an early retail announcement, Lionsgate has indicated plans to release the Miramax catalog title Heavenly Creatures on Blu-ray. Director Peter Jackson's critically acclaimed drama stars Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road) and Melanie Lynskey (Away We Go) as two ...
• Heavenly Creatures 15th Anniversary Blu-ray - May 25, 2011
Fifteen years after its UK debut, Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (1994) is heading back to the big screen, in a digitally remastered print, courtesy of Peccadillo Pictures. On September 12th, the British distributors will also release the film on Blu-ray. Technical ...
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