Sunday, June 13, 2010

Teen Angst: Pauline and Juliet

Teen angst is not a new issue - ask Romeo and Juliet. I have been fascinated with teen killers since I saw the film Heavenly Creatures. Here is the tale of this classic teen homicide with a twist:

Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme

Regardless of movies about shiny rings and big boats, I personally believe that Heavenly Creatures is both Peter Jackson's best work as a director, and Kate Winslet's first shining moment as an actress. It tells the true story of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme.

Pauline and Juliet were teens in 1950's New Zealand. They developed a very enmeshed, intense friendship where they would write stories together and live in a fantasy world that they created. There are some hints that the friendship had developed into a romantic relationship, but this is mere speculation. An example of Pauline's poetry:
"There are living amongst two dutiful daughters
Of a man possesses two beautiful daughters.

The most glorious beings in creation...

And above us these goddesses reign on high.

"I worship the power of these lovely two

With that adoring love known to so few.

'Tis indeed a miracle, one must feel

That two such heavenly creatures are real....

And these two wonderful people are you and I."

Pauline's parents, especially her mother, became very concerned about the closeness of the friendship and tried to separate the girls. Fatal mistake.

Juliet was due to be moving to South Africa with her parents, and Pauline wanted to go with her, but her mother had explicitly forbidden it, so the girls came up with a plan. They would take Mrs Parker to a local National Park, hit her on the head with a brick, and it would look just like she had a bad fall. Pauline's father would be so upset, he would allow Pauline to travel with Juliet.
Like a lot of these plans, it did not go how they imagined.

They went with Mrs Parker to the park - Juliet had fetched half a brick from a pile and had put it inside a stocking and given it to Pauline- so far, so good. The plan was that Juliet would walk ahead, dropping a pretty pink stone on the path. When Honora Parker bent over to pick up the stone, the brick in her daughter's hand would end her life.

But Pauline's initial blows were tentative - enough to injure her mother, but not kill her. Juliet had to assist Pauline, and it became a horrible, bloody, messy death.

Above: The girls go to court (Juliet on the left).
The girls were charged the next day and both were eventually found guilty. One of the conditions of their sentences was that they were never allowed to contact each other again. That provision has always struck me as highlightling the futility of their act. These girls were in love with each other, whether it was romantic love or not. Yet their "black and white" way of looking at the world cost one woman her life and deprived the girls of what they wanted most in the world - each other.

Above: Pauline in the 1990's
As a Post Script, Pauline went on to live a very non-descript life in New Zealand. Apart from the fact that she is a devout Catholic, little else is known.

Above: Anne Perry in the 1990's

Juliet on the other hand changed her name to Anne Perry and is a very popular British crime author!!! She writes books set in Victorian England - personally I would prefer if she wrote more contemporary stories - like a story set in New Zealand in the 1950's.... Like Pauline she also turned to religion - in Juliet's case it was Mormonism. She has given one interview about the case, when Heavenly Creatures was first released. She stated that it was her loyalty to Pauline which motivated her in the attack, rather than any malice. Check out her website here.

I would recommend watching Heavenly Creatures.  While this story just happens to be my personal favourite example of teen angst, there is a new example of this type of crime all the time. Teens who want to be together, who see parents as an obstacle, so they remove them - literally.

In reality if they had enough patience to wait for a few years, they could be together. But teens don't think like that - and the black and white thinking results in dire consequences for everyone involved.

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