I am not a Twilight fan.
I read the first two books back-to-back a few summers ago in a fit of reading frenzy—as Erin wrote a few days ago, these books are literary crack. It’s very hard to put them down. Except I got to the third one, read the first chapter, and just couldn’t handle the angst any more. I quit cold turkey.
At some point after the first movie came out on DVD, I ended up seeing that one. It was doofy, for lack of a better word. I did really like the house the Cullen family lives in, though. I want to live in a glass-and-pine house in the forest.
And tonight I went to see Breaking Dawn: Part 1, the penultimate movie. I went to see it partially because I had spent all weekend working and wanted to zone out for a while, and partially out of curiosity. People describe this thing as “bonkers,” “absorbing, if somewhat slow-paced” AND “ridiculously appealing.”
Well, shoot. Sign me up.
I knew the plot already, so I thought I had some idea of what to expect. And because one of the friends I was going with really does like Twilight, I decided I was going to try my hardest to not be all judgy, was not going to focus on the feminist-related problems with it—although there are plenty, which I will not get into here—and I was going to see if I could watch it and appreciate it for what it was.
This resolve went out the window about a minute in, when Taylor Lautner gets angry, runs outside into the pouring rain, and rips his shirt off. Because that’s…what happens when Taylor Lautner gets angry, I guess. I couldn’t even appreciate The Abs because I was so flabbergasted that this happened in the first scene. The first sixty seconds. Twilight sure knows its audience, if nothing else.
No, I thought. Come on, come on, you’re being too harsh. That’s what people expect; they expect the Lautner abs. Bill Condon’s just getting it out of the way early.
And I pulled my resolve back in only to have it go right back out another window. There is, as you may have heard, a wedding in this movie. Bella Swan is marrying Edward Cullen! The man of her dreams! It’s finally happening; hooray!
I’ve been to more than a few weddings, and I’ve helped photograph even more, and they are, as cliché as it sounds, occasions of joy. And happiness. They’re celebrations.
And never, not ever, have I seen a bride walk down the aisle with anything but a huge smile on her face.
Here is a picture of Bella Swan walking down the aisle*:
Her expression doesn’t change much. She looks like she’s going to throw up the entire time. Sometimes, for a change of pace, she looks at the ground. We get cuts back to Edward waiting at the altar, but honestly, that’s the only indication you get that there’s someone down there, because she’s not really looking at him, just kind of glaring into space. The down-the-aisle scene is a long one, too, so you get a whole lot of time to focus on how she just doesn’t seem happy to finally be here, where she’s wanted to be for so long.
You could make the argument that her expression is in fact an intense one of true love, but, no. I’m sorry. If anything, she should have an even bigger smile than Average Bride** would, because unlike a real couple, she and Edward really will get to spend an eternity together.
Because, you see, the plan is for Bella to become a vampire, just like Edward Cullen.
And again, this is something Bella has wanted for a very long time. She’s been asking Edward to change her since the first book. And now she’s here! About to become a vampire just like him, about to spend the rest of her life with her love. Aside from solving the problem of Bella aging while Edward stays twenty-something Robert Pattinson forever, this also takes care of the problem of them actually getting it on, which they couldn’t do before because Edward’s supervampirestrength is too much for Bella to handle. He’s afraid he’ll lose control and literally kill her with his desire (and probably his enthusiasm, too. The guy’s been a virgin for 100 years or so).
So she’s finally on the vampire track, except first she wants to have sex with him while she’s still human.
This makes no sense. None. Taylor Lautner (I suppose he has a character name, too, but when I see him I just think Taylor Lautner) shows up to the wedding festivities assuming Bella’s become a vampire already, and she says “No, we’re waiting.” To which he freaks out with a “WHAT, HE’LL KILL YOU” and what follows is a lot of veiled references to sex because this is a PG-13 movie. More importantly, though, Bella’s explanation is something to the effect of wanting a few more moments as a human.
Also, she says, she didn’t want to experience the period of pain and agony that comes from “turning” to a vampire while on her honeymoon.
Well, okay. I guess that’s a valid reason.
No, it isn’t!
Where did this come from? There’s no precedent for it. She’s never cared before about any agony. Or being human, for that matter!
And here we arrive at the most glaring problem with the movie. In the next few scenes, Edward and Bella go on their honeymoon and have one night of rough sex that ends with the bed broken due to Edward’s supervampirestrength, Bella bruised because of Edward’s supervampirestrength, and Bella impregnated because of the supervampirestrength of Edward’s centuries-old sperm. The rest of the movie centers on the pregnancy and how it’s killing Bella because she has a half vampire/half human baby inside, and will she die, and what’s up with this vampbaby anyway, and what’s up with these CGI werewolves, and oh dear God did Kristen Stewart eat ANYthing during this filming I can see her vertebrae, and what the heck is imprinting? Also, can I move into the Cullen glass-and-pine house in the forest?
There’s a terrifying birthing scene at the end that involves questionable delivery methods and a C-section performed via bite and a whole lotta blood and screaming, and some vampire venom (venom? really?) stabbed into Bella to save her life. And the movie ends with a seemingly-dead Bella opening her eyes, which are now red. Like a vampire.
Like she should have been about, oh, 75 minutes ago.
It was all completely preventable.***
The whole damn thing—the whole movie, pretty much—could have been avoided if Edward had just turned Bella into a vampire before the honeymoon. Whatever pain and agony of “turning” is, it certainly isn’t more than the pain of having a demon baby break your spine from inside your body, or the agony of having to drink human blood while still human (to feed aforementioned vampbaby). This seemed completely unnecessary.
I wondered if I was making this up or overlooking some key fact, so I went to the Twilight wikipedia—which is a thing that exists, although I guess that’s not too surprising. Apparently in Book Three, the reason the marriage issue comes up in the first place is because Edward tells Bella he won’t turn her into a vampire until they’re hitched.
Aren’t these Cullens supposed to be the pragmatic vampires? I mean, come on, Edward, at least turn her into a vampire after you’ve been engaged a while! It’s not like she’s going to change her mind or anything.
Although she does smile at Taylor Lautner a lot more in Breaking Dawn: Part 1 than she does at Edward.
I don’t understand this movie.
I tried, Twilight saga. But I’m not buying it.
–By Ivy Ashe
*I should point out that Bella wore a gorgeous wedding dress. Especially loved the lacy back and just-off-the-shoulder neckline.
**For a great discussion of the heteronormativity of the Twilight series, definitely read Roger Ebert’s take on it. Among many other good points, Ebert uses the phrase “rumpy-pumpy.”
***Erin would like to note that the whole thing would also have been preventable if they’d used a condom. And Tara says they just should have gotten that B on the P.