The LA Times’ Rachel Abramowitz talks to the screenwriters about how to bring the fantasy elements of The Lovely Bones to the screen. Hands down, this would be the hardest line to walk adapting the novel to the screen. However, it’s worth noting that if there is one director who can do it it’s Peter Jackson.
After young Susie Salmon is murdered by the local pedophile in “The Lovely Bones,” she ends up in a place easily mistaken for heaven, but what she discovers is that this magical terrain is actually an in-between state, “a place she’s caught in until she can resolve the issues of her death,” says co-writer Phillipa Boyens. “This in-between world is a 14-year-old’s idea of what an ideal world can be.”
Hm. “Local pedophile,” sounds like “local grocer” or “local milkman.”
In Susie’s heaven-like afterlife, a giant camellia lurks in a crystalline mountain lake, nestled beneath snow-capped mountains. “Susie doesn’t understand what it means. The audience doesn’t either, but these things will and do make sense. It’s the language of dreams. That’s what we were trying for,” Boyens says.
The startling images — shot by Jackson’sfellow Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” cinematographer Andrew Lesnie and crafted by production designer Naomi Shohan — are a melding of computer imagery and the startlingly beautiful vistas of the South Island of New Zealand.
“She’s running on a beach, which is a real beach in New Zealand,” Boyens says. “That lake is at the top of a mountain in the South Island. They helicoptered up there.”
“It’s the idea of being trapped in a perfect world,” adds Walsh, pointing to the snow globe metaphor that opens Sebold’s book, in which Susie pities the lone penguin locked in his plastic paradise. “Susie’s in her own version of the snow globe.”