Images and symbols

3.1.16 Fantasies, images, dreams and symbols

What did the two girls fantasize about, together?

[jp] Apart from the Fourth World and Borovnia, the girls had other shared fantasies, too. Although the filmmakers were aware that one Heavenly Creature never lost sight of these fantasies, apparently, and spent much of her adult life chasing them down, the quote is an accurate one and is not an 'in joke' at Anne Perry's expense. See sections 3.2.7 and 7.10.2. Pauline Parker has also, apparently, spent a life close to books.

Did Pauline have special fantasies of her own?

[jp] Yes, Pauline also had her own fantasies in "Heavenly Creatures." According to clues offered in the narrative, these may be very important insofar as understanding the reason for the murder.

The most important of Pauline's private fantasies in "Heavenly Creatures" was the fantasy that she and Juliet were sisters. Or, put another way, to emphasize the most important aspect of her fantasy, Pauline had the fantasy that she was Henry Hulme's daughter and a member of the Hulme family. This fantasy is shown explicitly in the second and third 'ship' visions, and it is a central theme of the poem Pauline recites in the film's voiceover (see below and 7.4). Or, that is one interpretation...

What recurring images and symbols did Jackson use?

[jp] I have only made a start at cataloguing these things, and their analysis is quite cursory. Hey--I'm a scientist, not a film studies major...

The next 13 sections list the most blatant images and symbols used in "Heavenly Creatures." Obviously, (more informed) contributions here would be more than welcomed. Legs and feet and walking and running.


Where do legs and feet feature prominently in the film?

[jp] The film opens with people strolling peacefully through Hagley Park and Christchurch, in the newsreel footage. The Prologue concludes with the jarring 'flight' sequence, intercut with the first 'ship' fantasy, both primarily shots of legs and feet, and running. The second 'ship' scene also featured legs.

The opening scenes of CGHS and Pauline all feature feet and legs, shoes, sandals, sockettes and stockings. Later, we see synchronized leg-lifts in the playful "PhysEd" sequence.

Legs and feet, by then a familiar motif, are used in agonizing, slow-motion counterpoint to their usual kinetic appearance in the final "Humming Chorus" walk.

Where does 'walking' appear in the film?

[lfr] Walking is the theme of the opening choral piece under the titles, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and, of course, of the closing piece under the credits, "You'll Never Walk Alone." Jackson uses walking in a reverential fashion, as a reference to religious or spiritual themes. And to the calm acceptance of destiny or fate that seems to accompany acts of faith--like showing up to the first day of school, or committing murder.

How are images of running used by Jackson?

[lfr,jp] Jackson uses legs and feet and especially running to bring across a kinetic urgency to the narrative, and to make concrete the idea that the girls are in a constant state of attempted escape from their lives, escape from their fates. They are also impatient, running toward their new life, together. In the first two ship scenes (see, Pauline is running in pursuit of Juliet, chasing the dream of a happy new life with her. Pauline bursts through the doors and runs to Juliet in the first sanatorium visit.

In addition, adolescence is a time of great, rapid change and exuberance, and the motion on the screen communicates the restlessness and energy of this period in their lives. Jackson uses running in this way in the "Princess of Ilam" scene, the "Donkey Serenade" scenes at "The Great Caruso" (running past the "Jamaica Run" poster) and the "ecstatic disrobing" sequence, the "Biggles" sequence, the "play-acting at Ilam" scenes.

Running in apprehension or fear is used in the beginning of the "Port Levy revelation" sequence, the "flight from 'It'" sequence, and in the Prologue 'flight' sequence, of course. Hands

What can hands do in "Heavenly Creatures"?

[jp,lfr] 1) Hands can work, making things, or writing.
2) Diembodied hands can reach out to grasp something, actively seeking the future or the unknown.
3) Hands can communicate and connect two people, join people together when hands link or touch, or caress.
4) Hands can betray.

Hands at work...

[jp] Jackson uses close-up shots of busy hands making things to communicate the excitement of creation, the joy of the arts. We see Pauline drawing, the girls painting and sculpting together and individually, making sand castles. All these scenes are happy, to begin with, but they drift a little into unsettled waters with Juliet sculpting in the sanatorium and Pauline painting severed heads (splotch!).

And we see tight shots of Pauline writing in pencil, in her exercise books, and in pen and ink, in her diaries. These shots are darker in both lighting and mood.

Christmas presents are despatched by disembodied hands.

Pauline's hands unwrap her diaries in close-up.

Hands reaching out...

[jp] These scenes with close-up shots of reaching hands stand out:

Hands joining together...


Hands betraying...

[jp] Juliet scrubs her hands like Lady Macbeth through the entire last day. She begins at the Riepers' house and doesn't stop until after the first blow was struck in Victoria Park.
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