5.7 Story and Production

[Mir,aa] When writer Frances Walsh suggested to director Peter Jackson that they do a film about the notorious Parker-Hulme affair, he immediately fell in love with the idea. Jackson took it to his long-time collaborator, producer Jim Booth, who also agreed that they had to tell this unusual tale. The three filmmakers unanimously decided that the film should tell the story of the incredible friendship between the two girls rather than focus on the end result. "The friendship was for the most part a rich and rewarding one, and we tried to honour that in the film. It was our intention to make a film about a friendship that went terribly wrong," says Peter Jackson.

Screenwriter Walsh had been interested in the case since childhood. "I first came across it in the late sixties when I was ten years old. The Sunday "Times" devoted two whole pages to the story with an accompanying illustration of the two girls. I was struck by the description of the dark and mysterious friendship that existed between them - by the uniquenes of the world the two girls had created for themselves."

Jackson and Walsh began researching the story by reading the contemporary newspaper acounts of the trial. They quickly realized that the lurid tabloid articles contained little useful information. The sensational aspects of the case that so titillated readers in 1954 were far removed from the story that Jackson and Walsh wished to tell. "In the 1950's, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme were branded as possibly the most evil people on earth. What they had done seemed without rational explanation, and people could only assume that there was something terribly wrong with their minds," states Jackson.

In order to achieve a more humane and truthful version of events, it was necessary to undertake a nationwide search for people who had close involvement with Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme forty years ago. This included tracing and interviewing seventeen of their former classmates and teachers from Christchurch Girls' High School. In addition, Jackson and Walsh spoke with neighbors, family friends, work colleagues, policemen, lawyers and psychologists, all of whom were able to shed light on the friendship and family circumstances of the two girls.

More of the pieces of this fascinating story quickly came together when Jackson and Walsh began to explore Pauline's diary in which she made daily entries faithfully documenting her friendship with Juliet Hulme. From the diary entries, it became apparent that Pauline and Juliet were two extremely intelligent, imaginative young women who possessed a wicked and somewhat irreverent sense of humor, qualities which Jackson and Walsh took care to preserve in their on-screen characterizations.

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