First Look: ‘Lovely Bones’ and Peter Jackson’s Virtuoso Vistas

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The Lovely Bones: I’ve seen it, and I’m still processing.

This is such an emotional and complex storyline – adapted from the sweeping novel by Alice Sebold – that in some ways the project is an overwhelming experience. But judged purely as a visual journey, it ranks right up there as one of the year’s more audacious experiments. A story about a young girl who’s killed, who hovers in the “in between” – not quite heaven, not quite Earth – all the while watching over loved ones who push forward in various states of despair, acceptance and revenge, The Lovely Bones is a bold swing of the bat by one of cinema’s great visionaries.

(More on Time.com: Holiday Movies: Previewing the Season’s Hot Tickets)

Paramount was kind enough to give Techland a first peek at four key images from the film – including our very first glimpse of Susan Sarandon, as Grandma Lynn.

susan sarandon, lovely bones

Susan Sarandon plays Grandma Lynn in DreamWorks Pictures’ “The Lovely Bones,” a Paramount Pictures release

Given the emotional turmoil being endured the film’s other major characters, Grandma Lynn emerges as one of the film’s emotional anchors. She’s also the wise cracking, chain-smoking, booze-chugging grandma who provides the film’s biggest laughs, as she moves in to help the grandkids get on with their lives.

lovely bones, saoirse ronan, peter jackson

Saoirse Ronan stars as Susie Salmon in DreamWorks Pictures’ “The Lovely Bones,” a Paramount Pictures release.

In this stunning horizon shot, all the elements are there – the gazebo where young Susie was to meet the boy of her dreams prior to her death, the farm field under which she was killed, the family house that beckons her back to Earth and the lighthouse that promises to send her on to the glories of heaven. Jackson has taken his time on this film, in layering frames like this with a plethora of symbolic meanings. This horizon above might be the most striking shot of the entire film.

mark wahlberg, lovely bones, peter jackson

Mark Wahlberg (left) stars as Jack Salmon and Stanley Tucci (right) stars as George Harvey in DreamWorks Pictures’ drama “The Lovely Bones,” a Paramount Pictures release

The full power of this scene might not sink in until you’ve seen the final film – in the foreground, a distraught father in mourning who is slowly beginning to realize that his loner neighbor is his daughter’s killer. A mix of anguish, suspicion and rage.

lovely bones, peter jackson

On the set of DreamWorks Pictures’ drama “The Lovely Bones” with Oscar-winning director/co-writer/producer Peter Jackson, a Paramount Pictures release

And, of course, the maestro himself – this time molding a fantasy adventure of a far more emotional variety.

More on Time.com:

Special Report: The 50 Best Inventions of 2009

Time.com’s Holiday Gift Guide 2009

Tech Buyer’s Guide 2009

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