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Reflections of the Past (2010)

PG-13 | | Documentary, Crime
On June 22, 1954, two teenage girls Pauline Yvonne Parker and Juliet Marion Hulme murdered Honora Parker, the mother of Pauline in Victoria Park outside of Christchurch, New Zealand. This ... See full summary »

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On June 22, 1954, two teenage girls Pauline Yvonne Parker and Juliet Marion Hulme murdered Honora Parker, the mother of Pauline in Victoria Park outside of Christchurch, New Zealand. This crime continues to fascinate the world. In 1994, Peter Jackson created a film based on the events called 'Heavenly Creatures' with Kate Winslet & Melanie Lynskey. This documentary will examine the relationship of Pauline & Juliet and the murder case. Written by Anonymous

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The elephant in the room...
14 May 2011 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

The enigmatic title hides a thoughtful talking-heads documentary about the Parker-Hulme murder case in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1954. Roman interviews schoolmates of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme (who together killed Parker's mother), a son of one of the counsel and others with a close interest in the case.

Others, such as women who have portrayed the girls in two plays, and especially a minister from the Los Angeles Church of Truth (does any church claim to be any other kind?), have less to contribute.

This is enlivened by re-enactments (of dubious value, some Los Angeles folly standing in for Borovnia), the few contemporary newspaper pictures of the girls, diary entries and newspaper footage eked out with special effects, and recent footage of Christchurch, made poignantly historic on February 22, 2011.

The elephant in the room is of course, Peter Jackson's "Heavenly Creatures". At a Q&A, Roman admitted that this was his point of entry to the case, and a hand-held scene near the beginning, running from the murder scene through Victoria Park, echoes that film. It would have been useful to have included some comparison between history and Jackson's embellishments, such as Alison Laurie and Julie Glamuzina provide in the second edition of their book, "Parker & Hulme, a Lesbian View".

Since Jackson's film leads up to the murder, the most interesting material this one adds is about the trial. The law of the day presented a stark dichotomy. Since their guilt was patent and confessed, the only question the jury had to answer was whether they were "bad" or "mad", and the film explores that in detail. It hinges on the nature of their relationship, and how much they were driven by a shared fantasy. This was imposed by the prosecutorial decision to try them together. Much was made of Pauline's diary at the trial (and in "Heavenly Creatures"), but Juliet also kept one, burnt by her mother, and it has become the elephant NOT in the room.

It suits fiction and symmetry that the two girls were equally involved in each other and planned and committed the murder together, but the truth may be more interesting. (Juliet - as Anne Perry - has given at least one interview about the case, but Pauline remains reclusive.) The suggestion arises that, after a lifetime of abuse, Pauline would have killed her mother Juliet or no Juliet, and that Juliet was a (relatively) innocent bystander. Some people are murderers, but some people are murderees.

The film is marred by a dog-wagging tailpiece about whether they were homosexual. For 15-year-old girls with "crushes" on each other, the question is hardly meaningful. That would be better consigned to outtakes, and more use made of some fantastic murals shown briefly near the end, that we are not told was the work of Pauline after her release.


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