Peter Jackson Talks Lovely Bones
After The Lord of the Rings and King Kong, Peter Jackson shifts gears with The Lovely Bones, the ethereal yet disturbing story about a 14-year-old teenager (Saoirse Ronan) brutally raped and murdered in 1973 by her mild-mannered neighbor (Stanley Tucci). Based on the best-selling novel by Alice Sebold, Jackson was particularly drawn to Susie's state of limbo, which he calls the In-Between world. He discusses the challenges of conjuring this imaginative state of being.
Bill Desowitz: How did you come up with the look of the In-Between world?
Peter Jackson: We started out by addressing a lot of this in the screenplay and we used the imagery of dream and dream analysis, because the great thing with dream is all about metaphors: nothing is ever direct; nothing ever means one thing or another. A house is really a person, so the house that she sees in the middle of the dead cornfield represents Mr. Harvey and she knows that ultimately to confront the man that killed her, she has to re-enter the door of the house, and she enters Harvey's mind and sees his previous victims, which only he has images of in his mind, and so her subconscious is entering his subconscious.
But it was certainly open to interpretation and we wanted to very much explore the surrealism and the way that Dali and Magritte and some of these artists were masters of where you don't understand literally what you're seeing but it evokes an emotional response, which hints you in the right direction to what we want.
BD: And Weta's work?
PJ: We started out by meeting with the Weta artists, of which Michael [Pangrazio, vfx art director] was one of the lead artists. And several of the Weta Workshop conceptual artists were involved. And we started very much with an open brief of just completing dream imagery that were not initially so plot oriented, but had more to do with just landscape that was within the subconscious. And we came up with ideas like she would wake up in a forest like Little Red Riding Hood, which is always used as a great way, especially for a child, who's lost and needs to find a way out. We explored interesting ideas for how the forest could look: some of them using trees, some of them using other stylized musical instruments from the school that formed the trunks of trees. We threw all sorts of interesting explorations there. Water played a part in it because the transition from life to death is very traditional with the River Styx and that whole concept of using the boat, and rebirth as well, as she sinks.