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Peter Jackson asked to up the agony in "Lovely Bones"

By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Filmmakers trying to satisfy a U.S. movie rating aimed at mostly teenagers often complain that they're forced to cut violent scenes, and those edits compromise the director's vision.

But Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson found he had the exact opposite problem with his eagerly-anticipated new film, "The Lovely Bones," due in theaters on December 11.

Based on the 2002 best-seller by Alice Sebold, "The Lovely Bones" tells the harrowing and intensely emotional story of a raped and murdered 14-year-old girl named Susie (Saoirse Ronan), who watches from her heavenly vantage point while her family on Earth mourns her loss and try to find her killer.

Jackson told Reuters he was taken aback to find that in early screenings audiences "were simply not satisfied" with a scene of one character's death.

"They wanted far more violence," Jackson said, so the "Lord of the Rings" director went back to the editing room to "basically add more violence and suffering."

"Lovely Bones" is among this year's most widely-anticipated films because the book was such a bestseller and because Jackson took the beloved "Lord of the Rings" tales and made films that were both true to their source material and fun for movie fans.

In "Lovely Bones", Stanley Tucci plays the man who rapes and kills Susie, which is no secret. "The mystery is, what's going to happen to him," Jackson said.

The director said it was important the movie receive a PG13 rating in the United States from the industry group that deems the kind of audiences to which films are generally acceptable.

A PG13 rating, which advises that a movie is aimed at over 13 year-olds rather than younger groups, is generally believed by Hollywood studios to appeal to the widest possible audience, and Jackson said he wanted "The Lovely Bones" to generate broad interest.

A MORE GRUESOME DEATH

Yet, with a higher level of violence, it may have earned an "R" rating, meaning it would be seen mostly by adults.

So, when shooting one death scene of a man falling to his death, Jackson chose to simply have him disappear off the edge of a cliff and not show the gruesome details of his fall.

"We got a lot of people telling us that they were disappointed with this death scene, as they wanted him to see (the character) in agony and suffer a lot more," he said. "They just weren't satisfied."

Jackson said he and his filmmakers were perplexed because they had already shot much of the movie. They had to go back to the editing room and use digital effects to add shots where (the character) bounces against the cliff on the way down.

"We had to create a whole suffering death scene just to give people the satisfaction they needed," he said.

Fortunately for Jackson, the movie still retained its more youth-friendly rating for U.S. audiences, and even before its release, it is once again generating Oscar buzz for Jackson.

But the director said that his best director and best picture Academy Awards for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," satisfied his dreams of Oscar glory.

"I do feel I don't need to prove anything anymore. But winning and even being nominated for an Oscar is still an enormous privilege and big thrill," he said.

"The great thing about having won is that you do feel, no matter what happens in your career now, you've always got that Oscar and it's a nice thing to wake up to in the morning and go to the office and see them sitting there on the shelf."

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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