I love fantasy tales, and am certainly partial to sexy vampires and werewolves. I love me a bit of Charlaine Harris.
I knew that Stephenie Meyer was a Mormon and that the Twilight series was very much influenced by this, and by her belief in sexual abstinence outside of marriage. I also knew that Stephenie had changed the vampire myth a bit so that they could go out in the day, but not in sunlight. Not because it would hurt them, but because it would render them too beautiful.
I don't have a problem with the patriarchal religious influence. Patriarchal religions and vampire stories seem to go hand in hand. There's a whole lot of sub/dom involved in both really, don't you think? Charlaine Harris is Christian, and she writes a fabulously silly story (Eric can come through my door any time).
The sexual abstinence thing bugged me. This is so often something that is recommended for teenage girls, but the double standard always seems to loom large within it. It carries ideas of purity which are problematic at best. Sex does not make someone impure, but that's not to say that sex should be taken lightly. To be honest, Stephenie's target audience are teens and young adults, and preaching sexual abstinence might be a good idea, but it's going to be a difficult line to tread.
The thing about them being too beautiful really bugged me. But that said, I like people tweaking myths. We all know the rules with monsters like werewolves and vampires. Stories can become formulaic. Tweaking the rules brings up new possibilities, and I like that.
Mainly, I thought that Twilight wasn't for me, as I am a grown up. Really, I am.
But when the series of films came on TV recently, I found myself watching them, so I thought I'd let you know my thoughts, because I'm interested in yours.
Just to note that this is only about the films. I haven't read the books.
The first film sees young Bella move to a rainy town called Forks to live with her Dad (her parents are divorced. She makes some new friends, one of whom is Jacob, who seems to be a sweetie, and she develops a crush on one of the weird kids - Edward. She finds out that he, and all his 'family' are vampires, but carries on with him anyway. Another vampire decides to kill her (I am still not sure why, is it just to annoy Edward? Can you explain?), but Edward rescues her. Hurrah!
Bellah is so wet that it seems unsurprising that she would fit in in Forks, which is an utterly miserable place to live. Most of her friends are pretty two dimensional, and Bella herself is very hard to like, as she spends much of her time (throughout all the films) moping and mooning. Edward is big on face holding, and having eyebrows, oh and staring. He is good at staring. I found myself thinking that if Bella would just buck up a bit she could do a whole lot better.
Mind you. I'm one to talk.
Do you remember that advert with the woman eating the jaffa cake and saying 'full moon, half moon, total eclipse'? New Moon and Eclipse make me think of that, but on we go.
New Moon starts with Bella and Edward totally coupled up. She's dumped her friends for her vampire, and only has eyes for him. Sadly, after an unfortunate event, Edward dumps her, and she spends MONTHS moping in her bedroom, only coming out to comment on the biceps of her young friend Jacob, who has been filling out somewhat. When she comes out of her room she starts hanging out with newly lycanthropic Jacob more, and engaging in some seriously risky behaviour. Again, vampires try to kill Bella (not sure why at all - think it's to annoy Edward still), but she is rescued by the werewolves. Hurrah! Unfortunately Jacob lets Edward think Bella is dead, and he goes to Italy to commit suicide. Luckily he is rescued by Bella. Hurrah!
Good grief. The number of times that we were reminded that Jacob was hot was unbelievable. You see what they did there? He's a werewolf so his body temperature is high, but he's also like 'hot'. Do you see? Don't worry, if you don't get it they'll repeat it in a minute. After Bella's months of moping she's clearly getting a bit of a thing for Jacob, which is great. I found myself wishing that they would just get down and dirty in the back of her truck and have done. I mean really Jacob's not a long term prospect is he? A bit dim really bless him. Anyway, Bella rushes to Edward's rescue when she discovers he's suicidal (which is really fast, thanks to vampiric mind-reading). Edward is clearly as much of a drama queen as Bella, and so instead of just setting up a guillotine and having done, he goes to Italy to get naked in front of a load of people, as a prelude to death. Anyone know why? Bella rushes to change his mind, but really Bella, he's 105 years old. Let him die! Also, he has dumped you. Both Bella and Edward are so pathetic at this point that I'm prone to think they deserve each other, although it's a shame Bella didn't hop into the back of the truck first.
Bella is with Edward, but she's still also in love with Jacob. There are lots of vampires after her (to annoy Edward - I'm pretty sure this time), and a vampire army comes to Forks to kill her. Luckily Bella is rescued by the good vampires and by the werewolves. Hurrah! Meanwhile the boys bicker incessantly over Bella, until she chooses... who will it be? Well, Edward, duh.
I was kind of looking forward to the big fight scene that most of this film is building up to, where the good vampires and the werewolves fight the bad vampires, but it really wasn't all that. If that's an army, it's pitiful. There were only about 12 of them.
Anyway, apart from the vampires trying to kill Bella (again) thing, this film is quite fun. Bella is in love with Jacob and Edward, and the two may fight, but have to co-exist. She's mainly allowed to get on with being in love with both of them. You get the impression that this could work long term. After all, Jacob is mortal, so it won't be that long in the scheme of things. There's a really lovely scene where Jacob has to cuddle Bella and the two boys talk (although about that - no-one in this film is 17/18 - that is quite clear). Anyway, Bella agrees to marry Edward, and gets a stonking ring. If she's going to marry anyone he's probably the right choice, but really, University might be a better option. And also, is Edward really a 106 year old virgin? Seems ridiculous to enter into a legally binding contract just to have sex.
Breaking Dawn Part 1
Bella and Edward marry and finally she gets to have sex. It looks pretty good, perhaps Edward was a virgin after all because he declares it his best night ever. However, even though she's married Bella has to pay the price for having sex. She's conceived a half-vampire baby, and that thing's going to grow! The werewolves are fearly of the child, and Jacob and Edward are all that stands in the way for Bella's safety. After the birth, Bella dies and Edward makes her into a vampire.
See what Stephenie did there? Edward never wanted to turn Bella into a vampire because they have no soul (so what is never explained) so he only actually turns her when without it she'd die.
Breaking Dawn Part 2
Bella is finally a vampire, and she's a Mummy too! Due to a bit of a mix up there are vampires that want to kill her, and her daughter, and the rest of the Cullens too. But luckily Alice comes to her rescue. Hurrah!
I like the conflation with Bella becoming a monster and a mother at the same time. That works well for me. It is odd though that she discovers vampire sex, and gets a house for their little family, and talk about staying there for decades, but then leave later that afternoon, with talk of never going back. Hmm.
Suddenly we're told that Bella isn't in love with Jacob after all. She and Edward are the only ones for each other. She only thought she was in love with Jacob so that he could bond with her baby. Which is utterly ridiculous and slightly disappointing. Why couldn't she be in love with them both? Why would the baby influence Bella's decisions prior to conception? It's a bit of a mess really.
This film finally has the great big fight scene we've been waiting for. I really enjoyed it when Bella ripped Tony Blair's head off. It was a shame that the film makers couldn't commit to it, and wussed out by making it all a dream. My advice would be to stop the film at the height of the fight sequence. Then you won't have to sit through the dross of them all living happily ever after.
Do you know, Twilight wasn't so bad in the end. I particularly enjoyed Eclipse. Have you watched it? Did you like it? What are your thoughts?
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