[as] Why, that was the director, Peter Jackson.
[aa,wb] He is one of the volunteer modelmakers who crafted all the plasticine figures. The nickname came from his fellow modelmakers. Whatever it means, the name apparently suited him so well it made it into the end credits.
[jp] There are some errors of substance, mostly to do with the time line and the order of events, and there are a few errors of omission and some small continuity errors and anachronisms.
[jp,mc] The hymn used in the opening sequences, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee," would probably not have been among the hymns sung by Christchurch Girls' High School pupils in 1952. [jp]
The choral piece was not in the blue hymnals used in CGHS in the late 40s. [mc]
There is, however, a good reason it is used. See 3.1.19 for a discussion of the surprisingly apt symbolism of this piece.
[jp,G?] The external shot of the Riepers' home, ostensibly 31 Gloucester Street, showed a house that was probably similar to the Riepers' home, but the neighbourhood was not quite right. The Riepers' home was located right downtown in an area that had mixed residential and small-business buildings and was probably slightly less clean and residential and a bit more gritty than depicted. More to the point, Christchurch Girls' High School was on the property at the rear of the Riepers' home and would have been clearly visible from the street in front of 31 Gloucester.
[jp] ...was just a jacket--there was no lp inside. It is bent and crushed when Steve gets out his board money for Honora.
[aa,jp] This is a very important anachronism. "Be My Love" was not on the album "The Student Prince" with the bright red cover shown in several scenes, both at the Riepers and at Ilam. "The Student Prince" was not released until '54, three years after Lanza scored a hit with "Be My Love". Hence it also couldn't have been in Pauline or Juliet's record collections at any time during the story. It was an enormously successful film and record, however, worldwide, perhaps Lanza's biggest hit album. Maybe that's why it is featured, because it was easy to obtain and because it would have been so familiar.
"Be My Love", having been Lanza's biggest hit record prior to the release of "The Great Caruso," figures prominently in its poster, seen outside the cinema when Pauline and Juliet go to see the film in the giddy days of mid- '52. Since "Be My Love" and "The Great Caruso" date from the previous year, this is not an anachronism.
[jp] Bert Rieper asked if that was the famous Irish singer Murray O'Lanza. Pauline replied scorfully that he was Italian.
Actually, Mario Lanza was an American who traded on his Italian ancestry. I presume this isn't really an error on Jackson's part, but a statement about how deeply, or not, the girls investigated their Saints. I don't have any real-life writings of Pauline's on the matter of Mario Lanza's citizenship.
[jp] Jonathon states "I'm almost ten!" at Port Levy at Easter, on Good Friday, April 3, 1953 in real life, to be precise. Jonathon's ninth birthday was March 22, 1953, a couple of weeks prior.
Kate Winslet's reply of "No your not! You're only eight and a half, and incredibly stupid!" is not correct, therefore. This was probably just a little goof that Jackson let stand.
[jp] The 'Meet the Riepers' scene was inspired by Pauline's real- life diary entry of March 11, 1953, the first to mention Juliet at the Riepers' home. However, that entry specifically mentions that two boarders were also present, Ross and John (and one gets the impression that Pauline was pleased to show off Juliet to them).
[jp] During the 'Meet the Riepers' scene in which Juliet mentions that her mother was active in the Marriage Guidance Council, we cut to a montage of interviews ("she should really be working for the U.N....") which ends in the first interview between Hilda Hulme and Mr Perry ("deep therapy" "Call me Bill.").
This is incorrect. The 'Meet the Riepers' scene is ostensibly in the early new year of 1953, before the trip to Port Levy.
Walter AB "Bill" Perry did not arrive in New Zealand until July 2, 1953, during the period when Juliet was confined in the TB sanatorium and her parents were on their trip abroad. Hilda Hulme and Bill Perry could not have met until after Hilda returned from abroad, at the end of August, 1953. Theirs was to be a truly whirlwind romance, but that is a topic for another section.
[jp] Mrs Stevens had assigned the class an essay, "The Role of the Royal Family Today," and the due date was written on the blackboard: May 11, 1953. After mischieviously reading out her piece about Diello, Juliet returns to her desk and starts coughing up blood.
This is the wrong date, probably the result of a transcription error made by Walsh and/or Jackson. In fact, Monday May 11, 1953 was during the May Holidays and there would have been no school on that day. In real life, Juliet was diagnosed with TB on May 15, according to Pauline's diary, which would have been during holidays, and she was admitted to the TB sanatorium on Thursday May 21, 1953, a few days after the resumption of classes following the May Holidays, on Monday May 18th.
[jp] After John-the-boarder is caught in Pauline's bed, Honora proceeds to lecture Pauline and argue with her in the kitchen the next day in a memorable and important scene. Honora tells her "You're only fourteen!" This is wrong. Pauline's fifteenth birthday would have been on May 26, 1953, just a few days after Juliet was confined to the TB sanatorium. In real life, this scene (or one very much like it) had to take place in July, 1953, when Pauline was fifteen.
[jp] Lost her virginity. Pauline, that is.
In "Heavenly Creatures" Pauline's voiceover makes it appear as if she thought that John-the-boarder getting into bed with her was sufficient for her to have lost her virginity, which paints a picture of an extraordinarily naive girl. In fact, this quote was taken out of context and placed in wrong chronological order in the film.
In real life, Pauline's relationship with "Nicholas" (he was never identified by his real name in court testimony) was more protracted and much more complicated than the way it was shown in "Heavenly Creatures." What is clear from the real-life diary record, though, is that Pauline and Nicholas went to bed several times, though they only completed intercourse once, according to Pauline's statements to consulting psychiatrists and entered into trial testimony. The diary quotation used as the voiceover in "Heavenly Creatures," when Pauline sneaks off to see Nicholas in his rooms, actually refers to the the real-life first time they went to bed in Nicholas' rooms, a scene not depicted in "Heavenly Creatures." Nicholas and Pauline tried to have sex that first time but it was painful for Pauline and so Nicholas stopped (alluded to by John/Nicholas' "I didn't hurt you, did I?"). This makes Pauline's hesitation, in the diary quote used in "Heavenly Creatures," about deciding whether or not she had lost her virginity, a much more subtle and complex and sophisticated issue and one which only she and Nicholas could decide, in real life.
[jp] The re-creation of the school photo was a nice touch because, in real life, the photo was reproduced widely in newspapers and in popular accounts of the case. This is one of those excellent details attended to so carefully by Jackson: the location is identical (exactly the same spot on the lawn and the same background!), the arrangement of the girls is identical, even the appearances of the girls around Pauline are very similar, Pauline's expression and her posture were identical.
The only problem is that the photo was not taken at the beginning of Fifth form, in February 1954. Traditionally, class photos are taken at the end of the school year and that was the case here, as well. The famous school photo of Pauline Parker was actually taken at the end of Fourth Form, in late October or early November, 1953, much closer to the time when Juliet returned from the Sanatorium, never to return to school and, in fact, very close to the time of Juliet's fifteenth birthday. There are several dairy entries around this time in which Pauline states she was very depressed and was considering committing suicide. At the very beginning of Fifth form, Pauline had a period of intense elation, according to her diary entries, for reasons that will be clear upon reading the time line (see 7.4.3).
[jp] According to "Heavenly Creatures" Juliet walked in on Hilda Hulme and Bill Perry in bed on April 23, 1954. According to Pauline's diary entry for April 23rd, written in the evening as was her usual habit, Juliet told her the incident had taken place at 2 a.m. April 23rd, so that is correct.
However, in the NAm version of the film, Bill Perry's presence at Ilam was all very mysterious and was never explained in a satisfactory way. In part, this was due to the trimming of several scenes from the initial New Zealand version (see 3.1.25). In fact, Bill Perry had been living at Ilam in a semi-private 'flat' since Christmas, 1953. His presence in the Hulme household was actually a far more important and significant factor in the real-life chain of events than was depicted in "Heavenly Creatures."
[jp] "Heavenly Creatures" has Pauline declare this on "The Loveliest Night of the Year," which Peter Jackson has decided was the night of Friday, June 11, 1954. Jackson has this night be a dizzy, passionate, ever-accelerating crescendo to the girls' relationship.
In real life, the events building up to the murder were compressed in time, but not quite as compressed as Jackson has portrayed them. Pauline's "M-A-D" diary entry was actually from Sunday, June 6, 1954. The two girls did go to see Orson Welles at the cinema on the night of Friday, June 11, and there was that all-important "enact(ing) how each Saint would make love in bed" but the decision to let Pauline come and stay at Ilam was made on the Saturday, June 12th, eleven days before the murder.
[jp] Obviously, the issue of exactly when Pauline and Juliet planned Honora's murder was an extremely important one in the real-life trial. In the NAm version of "Heavenly Creatures," Jackson takes some rather severe liberties with the time line with respect to this very important point. In his defense, this is still a partly unresolved and extremely contentious topic.
Jackson leaves the most important and damning (according to the trial) statements made by Pauline to the final, brief 'bathtub' scene at Ilam. The exact date of this scene is not given in the film, but it is approximately the night of June 18th by inference from the real time line, because the diary entry for that night states "We planned our moiders...". In this scene, Pauline's line, "some sort of accident" was a quote from her diary entry of April 29th, and "people die every day" was a quote from her diary entry of February 13th.
According to the NAm "Heavenly Creatures," death was a vague wish in the "Letter from Old Stew" scene and murder was not contemplated at all by Pauline until near the end of that final, intense ten days in June, 1954 with Juliet at Ilam. Pauline's increasing resentment and "loathing" of Honora was documented well in the film, though.
Jackson's time line is seriously at odds with the diary record, though it is actually qualitatively consistent with Pauline's statements made to the police after her arrest and, curiously enough (given that Walsh has accused Perry of undertaking a "revisionist" approach to the case), with Anne Perry's statements made recently. Jackson's time line is also similar to the interpretation of Glamuzina and Laurie (see 7.7.6), who tend to discount the importance of the earlier diary entries that mention death and murder as possibly being just fantasies. G? contend that the importance of those statements was over-emphasized by the police and prosecution, who were determined to show longstanding, cold and callous premeditation in order to extract the most severe punishment possible.
From the last bathtub scene on, the diary voiceovers are reasonably accurate and largely in agreement with the time line, up to the day of the murder, although they were edited for dramatic effect and to leave out what might have been inconvenient or 'inconsistent' elements (see 7.4.3).
[jp] In the final reel, Honora, Juliet and Pauline are shown walking up from the bus terminus near Victoria Park and Honora elects to have a cup of tea before going into the park. When they pass the entrance to the Park, the camera follows them as they turn to enter the Victoria Park Tea Rooms, to their right. They pass a small sign standing on the ground, advertising "Ice Cream," as they start up the stairs to the Tea Rooms.
In the first reel, at the close of the Prologue, Mrs Ritchie is shown running down the steps leading to the Tea Rooms. When she reaches the bottom of the steps there is no "Ice Cream" sign.
Agnes Ritchie testified she was serving ice cream to a customer when the girls ran up, screaming.
[aa] As Honora and the girls turn to go down the path in Victoria Park, there are clearly visible in the distance, on the hill opposite, modern steel high tension towers and lines. It is unlikely that such towers would have been present in 1954.