The Lovely Bones: The film’s real-world connections

The Lovely Bones

In The Lovely Bones, Susie Salmon is raped and murdered by her creepy neighbor George Harvey. Her soul moves to purgatory, where she and other murdered children play. Unfortunately, Salmon’s family finds it difficult to move on, having never experienced such a crushing tragedy. 

Susie sees the suffering her family’s experiencing and desires to see them heal. However, she also wants to help identify her murderer before he rapes and kills again. Some people can feel Salmon’s presence, but communication from purgatory to earth is complicated. 

Salmon is stuck between two impossible choices: seek revenge against her killer, or move on to let her family recover. 

The Lovely Bones is fictional but loosely based on real-life sexual violence

The Lovely Bones is based on a fictional book of the same name by Alice Sebold. The film’s supernatural elements are made up, but the sexual violence aspects have real-world connections. 

Sebold stated that the story was loosely based on a real rape and murder of a young girl in the 1970s in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Some aspects of the story also mirrored Alice’s rape experience when she was 18. 

Alice was beaten, sodomized, and raped by her assailant. “You’re the worst bitch I ever done this to,” the rapist said. The assailant likely said this because Alice, a virgin, struggled to follow his instructions. She writes in her book, Lucky:

“In the tunnel where I was raped, a tunnel that was once an underground entry to an ampitheatre, a place where actors burst forth from underneath the seats of a crowd, a girl had been murdered and dismembered.”

Alice also modeled the fictional rapist and murderer in her book, George Harvey, on real-life serial killers and rapists.