The "Norasearch" Diary - by Andrew Conway

Monday 29 June 1998

Watch Heavenly Creatures for the first time. I've avoided it for years, assuming it to be some dreary heritage flick. But it comes round as one of the dozens of films I video off TV and force myself to watch as part of my education as a screenwriter. Lie back on the sofa and press play at about one in the morning. Emerge stunned ninety-eight minutes later as Mario Lanza sings “You'll Never Walk Alone”.

Friday 26 February 1999

I watch HC for the second time with two close friends, Danny and Mark. A lads' night in. My journal doesn't record that I had the video in my bag and they were both interested enough to watch it. My journal only details a feverish Playstation session (Fifa 99). But we must have given it a rest for once and decided to watch a film, any film. Being a screenwriter I don't mind taking a chance to watch a movie a second time, and this time something about it clicks with me. Danny and Mark are both impressed too.

Monday 8 March 1999

I haven't written anything this year, all my energy devoted to treatments, business plans and cash flow forecasts. I'm loath to launch into another screenplay (having written four feature scripts between June and December) - would rather concentrate on earning some money, and also really thinking about screenplay structure again.

With that in mind I was writing an analysis of the HC screenplay last night. Downloaded it from Drew's Script-O-Rama and decided this time I'd read a script and actually try to analyse it, see how it matches the screenplay paradigms I'm always studying. I read the script and the interview with Jackson and Walsh, eager to delve deeper into it, and start writing a scene by scene analysis. It all comes alive when you examine it so closely: I see the themes ever-present, the subtle foreshadowing that prepares us for the extremity of the climax.

Wednesday 10 March 1999

Went to the Central Library this afternoon. Having spent an hour the other day in a fruitless search for non-fiction books on the Parker-Hulme case, I uncover a mine of stuff in just 40 minutes on the Net. There's a HC cult out there - loads of stuff on the film and everything anyone needs to know about the real case.

I've spent the last few days on the analysis of the screenplay - the first script I've done this with, apart from a couple of vague uni essays on High Noon and Citizen Kane. I watch it again a few times, to consult certain scenes, always trying to resist the urge to sit back and enjoy it from beginning to end. I have to say, I'm becoming bewitched by the film. It's creeping ever nearer my top ten.

Tuesday 23 March 1999

Treated myself to an Internet session today. With no access at home, I have to pay for sessions at the Central Library and, being on the dole, I have to keep them to a minimum. Downloaded another huge part of the Fourth World site, this time more stuff on the actual film (as opposed to all the material concerning the real life case I downloaded and spent days poring over), including a lot of the symbolism. It sent me back to the film. I'd intended to fast forward through it, looking for the parts I'd read about, but ended up watching the whole thing again.

Thursday 29 April 1999

This whole HC thing is becoming a schizophrenic experience. On one hand I love the portrayal of friendship in the film, the rush of adoration. On the other there are the facts, so many facts, about the case, and the squalid brutality of that murder. I've now downloaded the complete Fourth World website and recreated it, frames-based, on my laptop. Dr John Porter's research is breathtaking in its detail.

When I look closely at the site I notice that it is mostly Dr Porter's work with some updates by Adam Abrams, the guy who coded the whole thing, along with a great many contributions from people around the world. On the introductory page, in the requests for input and assistance, I see the following:

More background information on Honora Mary Parker and her parents and family. Digging in Birmingham records might yield important information. So little is known about Honora Parker. I have yet to find a single picture of her, for instance, and even her birth date isn't known.

Having read her brief biography on the Fourth World site, I was aware that Honora was born here in Birmingham, but this was the first time it had occurred to me that I might be able to contribute to the literature on the Parker-Hulme case.

My sister, Kim, has been tracing our ancestors for the last two years, so I ask her how to go about getting someone's birth certificate.

The search for Nora begins.

Copyright © 1999 Andrew Conway. All Rights Reserved.