In “The Lovely Bones,” based on the novel by Alice Sebold, Susie Salmon (Saorise Ronan) makes it a point to talk about how she was murdered when she was 14 years old. Her grandmother predicted she would live a long life since she had saved her brother’s life. Instead, her life would be taken without warning.
The movie cuts out showing Susie’s murder, making her seem like she didn’t know she had died.
Viewers that had read the novel were aware of the series of events that lead to her murder. These viewers were able to realize Susie’s murder did occur, but at first movie viewers were left clueless on how her death occurred.
In the scene after Susie realizes she has been murdered by an unsuspecting neighbor, it becomes real to Susie that she’s dead, by allowing her to see her murderer clean up the evidence.
The feeling of Susie’s murder is real to her and the audience. The movement of the camera was a technique used to make the viewers feel like they were moving with Susie, running with her, in panic with her.
The novel describes Susie’s brutal murder and assault, but for a PG-13 rated movie, the play out of the movie doesn’t imply a brutal murder.
The murderer cleaned the blood off of his clothes and any blood or mud found in his home; however, there was enough blood found at the location of the murder, a cornfield, to convince the detective on the case that Susie was not likely to be alive. Later in the movie, the murderer carries a pocket knife with him, leading the audience to believe it as the murder weapon.
The neighbor cleaned up and disposed of any noticeable evidence of Susie Salmons’ murder.
He does, however, keep one ‘trophy’ of the murder, Susie’s charm bracelet. He pays particular attention to the charm of a house, since his character has a hobby of making houses and other forts. His hobby allowed him to lure Susie into a place where he could carry out his plans of taking her life.
Susie’s father also had a hobby, one that he wanted Susie to help him with. Mr. Jack Salmon (Mark Wahlberg) teaches Susie how to build ships inside of glass bottles. In a fit of rage he threw the glass bottles, destroying the projects he worked on with his oldest daughter, his daughter who was no longer alive.
Mrs. Abagail Salmon (Rachel Weisz) copes with her loss by telling people she has a daughter, Lindsey, and a son, Buckley. She never mentions having a 14-year-old daughter that was murdered.
Mr. Salmon copes by keeping the last ship he worked on with Susie and lighting a candle on top of the glass bottle. Susie, as “daddy’s little girl,” understands that her father’s love for her would keep him searching for her murderer.
Susie watched her family cope with her loss. She was in a place she described as her heaven. She believed heaven was how you believed it to be.
Her brother felt Susie’s presence among them on Earth, describing the place as the “in between.” She had left Earth, but was not in Heaven yet.
Susie’s character seemed na’ve, perhaps because of how young she was when she died.
The novel did a better job in describing this place Susie is in after she dies. The description of her heaven is so vivid in the novel that the reader is able to imagine what it looks like, whereas the movie limits the viewers imagination by showing the world around Susie while she is in the “in between” worlds.
The scenes throughout the movie show a happy family raising three children in the 1970s. Lighting was used as an effect to show how the Salmons were living a normal life until the day that Susie never came home. Her ‘lovely bones’ were buried by her murderer and never to be discovered. The lighting dimmed to show when Susie was unhappy as she watched her family live each day without her.
Susie would also watch Ray Singh (Reece Ritchie), an older boy who she had a crush on. She would watch him sit and think about her. How he missed her, wanted her to be alive, thought she was beautiful and how he would have to live without her.
The movie does show Susie’s world crumbling down. Her safe place is a kuzbo, which falls to the ground. Susie doesn’t quite understand what is happening, but this event prepares her to learn how to move on.
The movie, already being two hours long, had to cut details written in the novel. Many of the storylines within the main story line of Susie’s life and death did not make the final cut in the movie.
It’s typical for readers to enjoy the novel more than when they view the movie. The movie follows the storyline of the novel, but for anyone who wants to get the full story of Susie Salmon and her family, it is recommended they read the novel.
Susie’s story is not based on true events, although the authors’ description of her murder, along with several other murders committed by the same man, proves to be a chilling story that viewers may believe to be a true story. The murder descriptions sound so familiar that viewers would believe it was possible they have read or heard about one of the murders beforehand.
Director Peter Jackson and screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, had their work cut out for them to take this story from a novel form to the big screen.
When movies are produced from novels, not all descriptions can be portrayed in movie form. Whether seeing the version of this story on screen or in writing, it is a very real piece of work that may hit home for many people.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.