Heav­enly Creatures (1994)

Peter Jackson’s film about two teenage girls who commit a murder in 1950’s New Zealand. The film was made some­where in the middle of Jackson’s career path from B horror flicks to massive block­busters and has consid­er­able cult status. It launched the career of the fledgeling Kate Winslet and is regarded by some as his most inter­esting film to date.

The story is based on a notorious real-life murder, and there were several similar scripts floating about when the film got made, but Jackson’s real accom­plish­ment is to take us inside the intensely personal world of the two fifteen year girls and show us just how the protective fantasies they spun around them­selves combined with their unhappy family lives to result in a horrific act.


This is a film of layers and its opening sequence is a real tour de force in which fantasy and reality collide with each other and shatter. The dull, stock footage of New Zealand begins the sequence and then is torn aside, like a stage curtain, by the screams of the murderers (a hugely effective opening in live show­ings where the screams seem to start from the back of the audit­orium.) The sequence then plunges into the dreamy fantasy world of the girls, a moment that is returned to at the end of the film.

The jarring opening is a delib­erate and effective choice and it whets our appetite for what is to come. It gener­ates a lingering sense of fore­boding as the film then launches into the relat­ively sedate story of the two girls meeting at school.

For a more in-depth analysis of the film read this review from The Film Quarterly, April 1995 (PDF)

Scene 2

Read the script
Extract from Heav­enly Creatures (PDF).

Spoiler alert
Spoiler alert – this scene comes close to the end of the film. If you haven’t seen Heav­enly Creatures, you should no longer deny your­self the pleasure; and prefer­ably do it before you read this script or watch this clip.

© David Clough 2010

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