The Riepers & The Hulmes The Riepers

Who were the members of the extended Rieper family?

'Nana' Parker   Mother of Honora, grandmother of Pauline. She is a silent presence in "Heavenly Creatures."

Honora Rieper   Pauline's mother. She managed their boarding house. According to Nana Parker, she "ran away with" Mr. Rieper when she was 17. Honora (Nora) is portrayed very sympathetically in the film as a frugal, hard-working, weary woman who loved her family and who was genuinely concerned about their well-being and welfare. Honora was the no-nonsense, practical partner in her relationship. She was also the worrier and disciplinarian. Honora wore a gold wedding band on her left hand and she was known as Mrs Rieper.

Like most working poor of her generation, Honora seemed to be determined that her children would fare better than her, and she saw education as the essential key to their better life. She pushed Pauline to excel at school and was proud of her achievements. Honora was bitterly disappointed when Pauline's grades fell (or, did they? see 7.8.2). She seems to have focussed on Pauline's relationship with Juliet as being the cause of Pauline's changing moods, behaviour and the slide in her grades. Her challenge to Pauline to quit school and get a job was mostly bluff--she had probably done just that and lived to regret it. Honora was not a sophisticated woman but she was proud, and Pauline hurt her deeply when she told her "You're the most ignorant person I have ever known!"

Honora did not deal well with life's complexities. She showed a working-class deference to (and slight contempt of) her social, professional and intellectual superiors, with tragic consequences in the film. We come to see that Honora may have harboured homophobic fears and feelings. She is murdered by Pauline and Juliet in the film's final moments.

Herbert Rieper   Pauline's father. He worked at Dennis Brothers' Fish Supply ("He's the manager!"). He is portrayed in the film as a jocular, good-natured, patriotic and caring man. Bert Rieper obviously loved his family and even doted on Pauline. If anything, Bert was even less sophisticated and worldly than Honora. He was a little slow off the mark when it came to worrying about Pauline's relationship with Juliet. True to his times, Bert blamed Pauline for John-the-boarder's amorous advances.

Wendy Rieper   Pauline's pretty, blonde older sister. She sold women's lingerie in a local department store, where Sir Edmund Hillary was one of her customers. She did not appear to have much to do with Pauline, or to like Juliet.

Pauline Rieper   At the chronological start of "Heavenly Creatures," Pauline is portrayed as an intelligent, imaginative, artistic and headstrong girl with a serious, rebellious nature. She didn't appear to be irreversibly antisocial, but she did appear to prefer her own company. She daydreamt about horses, Mario Lanza and escaping from her dreary, day-to-day, small-town life. Pauline seemed to question authority constantly, but she mostly kept her questions to herself. She had suffered from a degenerative bone disease as a young child but seems to have recovered and adapted quite well. At the chronological end of "Heavenly Creatures," Pauline kills her mother. "Heavenly Creatures" presents the intervening story through Pauline's eyes and the film is mostly concerned with trying to understand the connection between those two different versions of Pauline Rieper. The Hulmes

Who were the members of the Hulme family?


Henry Hulme   Henry Hulme was Rector of Canterbury University College, husband of Hilda and father to Juliet and Jonathon. He is introduced as a likeable, slightly absent-minded academic (discipline unspecified but maybe a scientist: "I thought I smelled sulphur..."), but his character develops a far harder, more manipulative and cunning edge as the film progresses and his personal problems mount. Dr Hulme was idolized, with tragic repercussions, by Juliet and Pauline, and cuckolded very publicly by Hilda. Curiously enough, if the film has a villain, then it is probably Henry Hulme.

Hilda Hulme   Hilda Hulme is portrayed as an intelligent, chic, stylish, cultured and sensitive woman. Hilda was a visible, and audible, pillar of the community. In fact, her face and voice were probably better known in Christchurch than those of her husband. Hilda is shown to be a little bored with her life, but also terribly wrapped up in herself and distracted by the escalating turmoil in her personal life. Hilda obviously loved her daughter and was concerned about her daughter's happiness. Her feelings toward Henry were less obvious, but she clearly worried about the health of her marriage through much of the film. Hilda was sophisticated and had a progressive, liberal outlook on life and sexuality. But... Hilda fell in love with a married man and brought scandal, public scrutiny and disgrace into Henry Hulme's home, and she dealt a severe setback to Henry's career. Hilda was the unwitting catalyst of many tragic events in "Heavenly Creatures."

Juliet Hulme   At the chronological start of "Heavenly Creatures," Juliet is shown to be a bright, outgoing, precocious girl although, perhaps, more than a little arrogant and disrespectful. We come to see that Juliet hid considerable loneliness, insecurity and a crippling fear of rejection and abandonment under this confident and brash exterior. Juliet had suffered recurring poor health as a child and her health plays an important part in "Heavenly Creatures." At the chronological end of the film, Juliet helps Pauline kill Honora Rieper. The filmmakers want to know 'why.'

Jonathon Hulme   The lively younger brother of Juliet, who claimed, at Port Levy in April '53, to be "almost ten," to which Juliet replied: "No you're not! You're eight and a half, and incredibly stupid!" Juliet calls him 'Jonsy.'

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