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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Exclusive with Peter Jackson: the buzz on hobbits and heaven

By Tatiana Craine

For his latest film, Peter Jackson ventured out of the Shire and into 1970s America. “The Lovely Bones,” based on Alice Sebold’s controversial and emotional 2002 novel, chronicles a young girl’s spiritual journey after her brutal rape and murder. After her death, she watches over her loved ones from a heaven-like In-Between realm as they cope with the tragedy.After controversy over the film rights for “The Lovely Bones,” Jackson finally and enthusiastically attached himself to the project. He teamed with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, former collaborators on “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, to adapt Sebold’s novel for the silver screen. After several years, production began on the film. The film showcases the talent of big name actors Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci and Michael Imperioli. Additionally, the soundtrack features classic 1970s tunes as well as a score by musician Brian Eno.

Not long ago, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to talk to Jackson about his previous films and his work on “The Lovely Bones.”

Specifically, I chatted with him about the blend between reality and fantasy in many of his feature films. On how he finds an artistic balance between the two realms, Jackson responded, “Within a movie, you follow what you think the movie needs. And so, ‘The Lovely Bones’ was a particularly interesting, because it is a very fascinating mix of reality and fantasy.

“I guess, because the fantasy segments referring to the afterlife, the sequences with Susie, because you know one of the attractive things about ‘The Lovely Bones’ is an opportunity for me to make a movie, which says things about what happens to our soul after we die. And that’s obviously a question that we all wonder about.

“And so, you know it’s in the back of everybody’s mind. And, especially if you lose people who are close to you, you wonder what’s happened to them, and are they still around, and can they see you and hear you? All those sort of questions are fascinating questions. And they’re emotional questions.

“And it’s that stuff that the movie really gets into. And so, you know even calling it fantasy, I guess is not really true, because we try to you know-we try to present a case of, this could be what happens to you, and possibly, after you leave your body, your soul divides and lives on.

“And so the movie was fascinating in the sense that there’s a reality to the film, which is Susie’s parents and her sister and her murderer. There’s a storyline that’s about them, you know and they live a perfectly real life, and continue to do so. There’s nothing at all fantastic about that storyline, and in fact, we you know we tried to make that as real as we possibly could.

“And in the other half of the movie is, we’re following Susie’s point of view. And her point of view is being told you know from the point of view of her-her soul, which is living on after she dies. And how she reacts to that, and how she wants to see her killer punished, and is it really – is punishment what she – what she wants? Is punishment what she should be after? You know, we’ve asked those sorts of interesting questions.

“And you know it’s not a ghost movie. So she doesn’t operate on the rules that you see in normal ghost movies. She can’t make doors slam, and she can’t sort of you know – she can’t do any harm to anybody, yet she wants to try to get the guy who killer her to court, because he’s getting away with it.

“And so, it was a fascinating mixture of the two. And that was one of the, I guess, the challenges of the film is to be – is to be stepping in and out of both of those points of view, the real and the fantastic.

“And the balance of it, you know, you’ll have to see for yourself when you see the movie if we succeeded with the balance. That is the trick, though, getting that balance right, so that it’s not-it just is a sort of a you know-keeping the story told, keeping the momentum going, making sure that it’s delicate, not heavy-handed. All of that was the challenge of making this particular film.”

Jackson adamantly praised the film’s young star, Saoirse Ronan, a 15-year-old Irish actress. Audiences will recognize Ronan from her Oscar-nominated role in “Atonement.” He commented, “Acting is never about pretending. It’s about making it real. And when she’s crying on screen, she’s really crying, because she’s thinking about things that are making her cry. [. . .] And you know she had to go there for us and not feel self-conscious. She has this wonderful spirit, this wonderful courageous spirit. She tried anything that I asked her to do. And she did it perfectly well every time. And she’s fun to be around. She’s got a great sense of humor, too. She doesn’t take it seriously.”

Despite all the hard work he puts into his craft, Jackson’s commitment to his films ends at the theater door. He explained, “What’s interesting [. . .] is that I never watch my movies after they’ve finished. Like I you know I can go ten years without seeing an old film that I’ve made. I’ve got no desire to watch them again once I’ve actually finished the movie and handed it over, and it’s into cinemas, and people are going and seeing it.”

However, Jackson did make one exception regarding a perhaps his most well-known series of films, saying “I saw ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies with Guillermo del Toro, because he’s directing ‘The Hobbit’ for us, and I sat down and watched our three ‘Lord of the Rings’ films with him earlier this year. And it was the first time I’ve seen them since they came out.”

“The Lovely Bones” opens in theaters everywhere Jan. 15, 2010.

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    Lily MackenzieSep 5, 2019 at 5:52 am

    Hi, you used to write great posts, but the last few posts have been kinda lackluster… I miss your tremendous posts. Past few posts are just a little out of track!