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The Lovely Bones - the Movie
By G. Hall, October 2007

Very many readers will remember Alice Sebold's engrossing novel, The Lovely Bones, from several years ago. This most unusual book starts with a raped and murdered teenager looking down at her family from heaven. It was a real sensation when published in 2002 and quickly became required reading by book clubs everywhere.

Since the movie industry apparently feels that no great book goes unpunished, film-makers are now at work in the Philadelphia suburbs to turn The Lovely Bones into a movie. Sebold, a native of the Philadelphia area, set the book here with various local references, although she never explicitly named the specific location.

DreamWorks studio is expending an amazing amount of behind the scenes work to re-create the 1970's setting. Satellite dishes, current patio furniture and plastic recycling cans are being replaced with rooftop TV antennas, old wicker and aluminum lawn chairs and dented metal trash cans. Only 1970's era cars are allowed on neighborhood streets.

Given the movie industry's less than stellar record in transforming great books into mediocre - or, worse, botched - films, the book's multitude of fans are right to be anxious. But New Zealand's Peter Jackson is at the helm of this project. Master of not just the Lord of the Rings movies and King Kong, Jackson also made the wonderful Heavenly Creatures back in 1994. Like The Lovely Bones, this film focused on a small family group, so we can be hopeful that Jackson will do justice to the challenge ahead of him.

The promising cast includes Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Rose McIver - and, surprisingly, an Irish newcomer, Saoirse Ronan, as the murdered girl. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that DreamWorks and Jackson will be able to capture the essence of Sebold's unique and stunning story.
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