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|Written by April Yorke|
|Friday, 25 November 2011 01:59|
N.B. Book vs. Films discuss movies and their source materials in their entirety. Spoilers ahoy!
There's a way of reading the Twilight saga wherein Eclipse is its natural conclusion -- Bella fully weighs the decision before her and makes a conscious choice. It goes deeper than just wanting to be with Edward always and always. She chooses a life, and a family, for herself. It's something we all have to do at some point, a part of growing up; it's just that Bella's life is going to be a lot longer, and a lot more sparkly, than the rest of ours.
But if you read it that way, you might start to wonder why Breaking Dawn even exists. Two reasons: Stephenie Meyer wanted to tie everything up with a neat, little bow, and the world Stephenie Meyer created is so completely bonkers that no one wants to leave. And since The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 doesn't tie everything up with a neat, little bow (that'll be Part 2), we'll have to focus on the bonkers side of things instead.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 drops us in the thick of it: Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward's (Robert Pattinson) wedding invitations arrive. Jacob (Taylor Lautner) takes off running, though the movie doesn't specify, as the book does, that Edward sent the invite behind Bella's back, reasoning that he would want to know if the shoe were on the other foot. Indeed, ever-present screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg continues her mission of mercy in making Edward a helluva lot more likable than Meyer ever did. She also cuts out Edward's pre-wedding gift to Bella of the Mercedes version of a tank.
Suddenly it's the eve of their big day. Bella, who has never in three movies looked so beautiful, wobbles in new heels while wedding planner extraordinaire Alice (Ashley Greene) has her family remake the forest behind their gorgeous house into a botanical garden. In the book, Alice makes a point of holding the wedding indoors and the reception outside after sunset, but I guess vampires just don't sparkle like they used to for new series director Bill Condon.
Back home, Bella puts away childish things, and Edward sneaks in her window for the last time. In the book, they make out hard core (well, hard core for Edward and Bella, meaning Edward's not wearing a shirt), a practice run for when they will "try." Movie Edward, however, chooses this moment to elucidate a part of his life he conveniently left out of the first movie: he used to murder people/embrace his God complex. We flashback to Edward at a screening of Bride of Frankenstein (cheeky!). A woman walks out, but it's the man who follows her that attracts Edward's attention. Thanks to his telepathy, Edward's become the Dexter of the Great Depression. Bella thinks he's trying to scare her off of marrying him, but it turns out he's still keen to keep her human. Nothing doing, Ed. In fact, Bella gives a lovely little speech about how she'll use Edward's strength as her guide during her first difficult years as a newborn vamp. Kissing breaks off for the book-mandated bachelor party (a hunting party rather than a visit to the strippers).
That night, both Book Bella and Movie Bella have nightmares. Movie Bella dreams of a beautiful, all-white wedding. Raining red rose petals are only pop of colour. But when she meets Edward at the altar, it's Aro (Michael Sheen), Marcus (Christopher Heyerdahl), and Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower) performing the ceremony. Bella's panic mounts, as does the pile of bodies at her feet. Soon, she and Edward are on the toppers of a corpse cake, blood on their hands while Edward grins manically. Deliciously demented! Book Bella, however, has a completely obvious "foreshadowing" dream about an immortal child (read: child turned vampire). The Volturi come to put it down after it kills everyone she loves.
The next day, Book and Movie Alice lightly chide Bella for not getting her proscribed beauty sleep. Rosalie (Nikki Reed) offers to do Bella's hair, presaging their alliance. Renée (Sarah Clarke) and Charlie (Billy Burke, extra hot thanks to the tux), present Bella with something old and something blue:
Freshly confronted with what she is giving up, Bella can only hug her parents and reiterate how much she loves them.
Ceremony! Book and Movie Bella asks her father not to let her fall, and both Charlies simply vow, "Never." Why Alice chooses to have Bella walk in heels on such crazy surfaces (down a spiral staircase in the book and across a mossy path in the movies), I'll never know. Oh! The dress! It manages to be both racy (a deep plunging lacy back) and weird-looking (all jazzercise up front). The skirt is the upside down calla lily the book describes, though.
In both texts, Bella's panic subsides once she sees Edward, though Edward's barely suppressed ear-splitting grin is a lot more charming in movie form, as is her locking onto him with crazy lust eyes. In the book, Bella frequently describes Edward's wedding voice and attitude as "victorious," which, ew. As she takes her place by his side, Edward gently bumps Bella's shoulder with his own.
It's such a small moment to hang your hat on, but it is the perfect example of how Movie Edward is so much more likable than Book Edward. It's real and it's human and it's loving but a touch mocking. It's everything Book Edward is not. He would probably be scandalized by the display.
ANYway, a quick intercut of vows (in which the book specifies that they swap "'til death do us part" for "as long as we both shall live"), and it's time to kiss the bride. And, boy, do they. It's the most kissy they have ever gotten, and what's really surprising is how far Edward gives himself over to it and in front of all their guests, no less. Book Edward would be scandalized, I say.
The traditions outlined in the book (first dance, father-daughter dance, etc.) are tossed out in favour of a series of awkward -- and thus hilarious -- speeches (Anna Kendrick, miss you already!). Lots of little hints of things to come get dropped, particularly Billy (Gil Birmingham) trying to quash a burgeoning romance between Charlie and the widow Clearwater (Alex Rice) and Irina's (Maggie Grace) resentment toward Bella and the wolves over Laurent's death (way back in New Moon).
Out on the dance floor, Edward's spidey senses tingle, and he leads Bella over to the woods where her best man is waiting: Jake's back. As he leaves, Edward looks nothing short of happy for Bella to see her best friend once again. Marriage really mellows some guys out. Jacob and Bella share a dance or two until an argument builds over the revelation that Bella plans to stay human long enough to enjoy "as real a honeymoon as anyone." Jacob is incredulous, then livid. "He'll kill you, Bella." Now, I know this is Edward's stance on the whole thing, but how does Jacob know this? When did he become an expert in human-vampire relations? Isn't it kind of weird that he has a thought about it one way or the other? I call contrivance. While Book Edward has to come pry Jacob's hands off Bella's arms, Movie Bella is perfectly capable of shaking them off on her own. As the pack drags Jake off, Edward can only wince at the assertion that Bella won't survive their wedding night. And Lord love Movie Edward for only wincing. Book Edward launches into his third series of recriminations for even considering "trying." Such a drama queen.
After their goodbyes, Bella (in a dress that I covet) and Edward take off on their surprise-destination honeymoon. While their cab winds its way through the streets of Rio, Bella spies all the life out on the streets. Instead of this being a wistful reminder of what she's turning her back on, it's another moment to improve on Book Edward. Movie Edward stops their car and takes her out to dance at an impromptu street party. He looks downright tan, too. They've really lightened up on the pancake makeup over the years.
Out at Isle Esme (a gift from Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) to Esme (Elizabeth Reaser), which causes Book Bella to mentally mark Edward's generosity as a learnéd behaviour rather than innate, which is sort of rude of her if you ask me), these two get downright cute:
(Sorry for the poor quality of that last clip, but Summit took away all the good ones.)
It's kind of hard to stay a Bella hater after that. She's just so nervous and so cute! Out in the water, Movie Edward finally lets on that, you know, he's worried about
Movie Edward finally takes Bella to bed and snaps the headboard in a moment that will live in movie infamy (can a sister get a gif?). At least Movie Bella has the good sense to notice Edward's War on Beds (in the book, he actually destroys two).Cut to the next morning, and Bella waking up in feather swirling chaos, no Edward in sight. Thank goodness, since the moping starts in right there in the books. While engaged in her toilette, Bella reflects on the night that was, and truly, Stewart's acting in the scene is awfully sweet. Too bad Edward has to show up and harsh her buzz. He points out bruises on her arms and shoulders (they look fairly banal in the movie and sound much, much worse in the book, and make you wonder if her arms are that bad . . .). Despite the fact that they both enjoyed themselves, Edward draws a line under the whole "try" experiment. No sex for you, Bella!
And thus begins Edward's plan to simply fill their days with so much adventuring that she's too tired and distracted to notice the lack of sex. They also play a lot of chess, in a bizarre reference to the book cover that exists only as a joke for Bella's sex dream. But first! Recreational cliff diving (much safer with a vampire) and hiking through the jungle. Bella has a plan of her own -- lingerie. She hits the sheets every night in a tempting ensemble, and Movie Edward at least looks like this is a hardship for him as well (Book Edward acts indifferent because he is boring). Finally, Bella has a sex dream -- she wins at chess, and that apparently means she wins herself some sweet, sweet vampire lovin'. She wakes up in tears (sobbing ones in the book, far less serious in the movie), and, soon enough, Edward succumbs. Yay for Bella!
Their honeymoon is, thereafter, as real as anyone's, minus the native housekeeper who thinks Edward is a demon who preys on beautiful young women. Could happen to anyone. One morning, while Edward's out hunting, Bella wakes up hungry. She fries up some chicken while munching peanut butter directly out of the jar. Not too long after, she notices her chicken is undercooked and runs for the bathroom. Just as she yaks, Edward comes home. Bella tries to shoo him away, but he reminds her that they vowed in sickness and in health. While she searches her toiletry bag for some Pepto, a box of Tampax Pearl gets her doing some quick math:
(No, we don't know what it's like for Edward when Bella is on her rag. That's the kind thing that never gets discussed.)
So while Bella is marveling at the miracle of life, Edward goes into shock (truly, Pattinson looks like he's been shot). Bella answers his phone. Alice was worried (we'll later learn in the book that the moment Bella decided to keep the baby, she dropped out of existence in Alice's visions of the future). Carlisle confirms that it's certainly possible Bella is pregnant while suggesting that Edward get Bella back to Forks for a medical work up ASAP. Edward wastes no time in packing their bags at vamp speed, so that's naturally the moment when the native housekeeper, Kaure, stops by to make sure Bella's still alive. Edward decides to pump her for information, hoping that a tribe that knows about his kind might have insight into human-vampire relations. And wouldn't you know it? They do! Kaure's reluctant to give up the goods to a demon, but she's swayed by Edward's fervour and admits that these things end only one way: "Morte." This only strengthens Edward's resolve to get "that thing" out of Bella. "Thing?" she whispers. And while Edward's distracted, Bella forms a risky alliance with Rosalie.
Hey, remember those werewolves? Well, despite what Jacob wants, Alpha Sam's (Chaske Spencer) decided that since Bella is either dying or joining the ranks of the undead by choice, the treaty holds. Also, Leah (Julia Jones) thinks maybe it would be better to imprint on someone rather than suffering over the one you can't be with (hello again, "foreshadowing"!). Also also, Jacob turned down the role of Alpha and possibly shouldn't have. Jacob's not that into any of these ideas.
Those wolves keep it simple, don't they? Not in the book, but Rosenberg spares us a lot of unnecessary angst.So when Jacob hears from Charlie that Bella hasn't returned from her honeymoon due to "a bug" she caught, Jacob busts into the Cullen home spoiling for a fight. Instead of finding newborn vampire Bella in their midst, he finds an ashen, emaciated Bella on the couch, along with her protruding, black and blue stomach. Yup, there's a monster in there alright. Edward asks to speak to Jacob outside.
Outside, Edward explains Bella's hoping an emergency vampirization will save her, despite the fetus slowly killing her from the inside out. Could Jacob maybe take advantage of the special bond he and Bella share and try to talk her out of taking it that far, though? Book Edward also crazily (and grossly) suggests studding Jacob out to Bella, so she can have some safer offspring, but Movie Edward says nothing of the sort.Previously in Book vs. Film:
Jacob tries in vain to get Bella to see sense, but Bella maintains that this is her choice. Rosalie understands it even if no one else does.
Now, a lot of people read this as a strong, even dangerous, pro-life message, given that the pregnancy will almost certainly kill Bella, but I will point to Bella's now long and storied lack of self-preservation, particularly when it comes to Edward. Was there really any doubt that she would try to do anything other than carry to term?
Bella's rapidly gestating demon spawn is more than Jacob can take, so he heads to the woods in wolf form. As the pack picks up on what Jacob saw (weirdly, there is a shot of Edward and Bella kissing in his memory, like when did he see that?), they start circling and talking over one another about how they have to destroy the abomination immediately. The book features a lot more wolf talk, but the movie seems to recognize it as inherently silly and limits it to this one scene. Jacob's against killing Bella just to kill what's inside her, so he asserts his Alpha birthright and runs off to warn the Cullens. Seth (BooBoo Stewart) and Leah Clearwater follow soon after, Seth because he genuinely likes the Cullens and Leah just to get away from Sam.
Jacob gives the Cullens a heads up:
And thus begins a lengthy period in the books that's mercifully reduced to a montage in the movie wherein Jake's pack runs around outside a bunch and the vampires, whose needs are relatively few, take turns staring at Bella. Why Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) doesn't use his mood mojo to help his stressed out family chill, I couldn't say. Bella's condition rapidly deteriorates, highlighted in the shadow side of the post-wedding night scene (itself a pantomime of the first movie's poster): Bella pulls off her robe before a bath, revealing herself to be little more than skin, bones, and bruises, while Edward stands helplessly by, looking like he wishes he could drop dead on the spot.
The demon baby also starts snapping Bella's ribs. Edward thinks that surely this will snap Bella out of it. Surely it does not. Edward finally loses it and rages at Bella (in a most drama queen-y and yet completely on point way) that this, her dying, is most certainly not his choice, that he will never love or even tolerate that which kills her, and that this partnership they're in is awfully one sided. Which is kind of awesome of him, really. He's forever flipping over her recklessness over the course of the other three books, and she's really pushing it to extremes this time.
Soon enough Carlisle has exhausted every means he can think of to keep Bella from starving to death before the child is full term. A snide internal remark from Jacob, overheard by Edward, gives them an idea: feed Bella blood. Human blood. Carlisle's been stockpiling Bella's own blood type for the birth. As she sips it through a straw out of a Styrofoam cup, the red on her mouth shocking against her grey skin, she admits that it tastes good. Her pulse improves almost instantly. Everyone is (temporarily) relieved. Jacob's mostly just grossed out.
One sunny day, Bella calls Charlie to lie to him that she's being moved to a medical centre in Switzerland. He flips and insists on accompanying her (awwww), but she tells him to visualize her as healthy instead. Before he can press his case, Bella's off the phone, tears rolling down her cheeks. Edward takes a moment to check himself and realizes that he hasn't exactly been the most supportive husband in the history of husbands. He apologizes, and they make up. "Some marriage," Bella breathes, but that's not what Edward hears. Nope, the demon baby has comprehensible thoughts, and they are good and pure and happy and loving of the mother it's destroying. Jacob sees this and realizes he's lost his last ally in the "kill the monster" race. While this is Book Edward's cue to push Jacob out of the house for a while (to go to the nearest city in a desperate bid to find someone to imprint on), Movie Jake's got more pressing matters to address:
Which is followed by Jacob narrowly avoiding looking directly into the camera while having the sudden "realization" that the Cullen coven is as real a family as the one he grew up in. I kid you not. Also, and I'll tell you this much for free, no way would Esme say "now." Bella's been family in her heart since the first moment she saw how much Edward cared.
Jacob distracts Sam's pack long enough for Carlisle, Esme, and Emmett (Kellan Lutz) to break through to the other side of the treaty territory. While his old pack feels played, Jacob's promise to destroy the abomination after it's separated from Bella holds true. In the books, the talk is Sam's pack's idea, and Jacob promises nothing.
Back home, Bella's testing out name ideas on the remaining Cullens + Jacob: EJ (Edward Jacob) for a boy and -- brace yourselves -- Renesmee for a girl. The look of horror on their faces, particularly Lautner's, is hilarious. Edward eventually allows that it's unique, which is fitting for their offspring. But no more time to discuss! If the body horror wasn't enough for you before, it's about to be when the baby breaks Bella's spine.
In their makeshift obstetrics ward, via phone, Carlisle informs them it's time to deliver. Edward wants to at least let the morphine spread, but Rosalie and Bella insist the baby can't hang on any longer. The scent of Bella's blood from the first incision, however, forces Alice to drag a famished Rosalie off by the throat. Edward finishes the C-section with his teeth (admittedly, you might not be able to follow this if you hadn't read the book) and delivers his daughter. He gently places Renesmee in his wife's arms. Renesmee tries to take a bite outta her momma because she is the worst. Edward barely has time to chide his child when Bella flatlines.
Jacob refuses to take, or even look, at Renesmee, focusing instead on beginning CPR. Rosalie has calmed herself (perhaps with the absent Jasper's help?) and takes the child. Edward plunges a giant syringe of his venom into Bella's heart, Pulp Fiction-style, and resumes compressions. Jacob gives Bella up for dead, nastily informing Edward that he won't kill him -- instead, Edward will have to suffer this loss for all eternity. Jacob heads outside and curls up in the fetal position in tears while Edward flat out loses his mind, chomping on Bella's neck, arms, and shins in an effort to further spread the venom. He begs her to come back to him. It's . . . quite affecting. Aw, these two!
Too bad Sam's pack sees the combination of Bella's death and three vampire absences as the perfect opportunity to attack (note: this never happens in the book). Jacob goes off to destroy the abomination and promptly imprints on Renesmee. I mean, the movie has Jacob suddenly gifted with second sight, so he sees Rensemee as an adult and potential future mate while recycling his lines about how he'll be whatever she wants him to be (friend, brother, etc.) in the hopes that we will thusly be less squicked out by an adult falling in love with a baby, but squick, y'all. The way he falls reverentially on his knees is pretty cool, though. Imprinting's like Tebowing.
Fortunately Leah and Seth still side with the Cullens, plus Carlisle, Esme, and Emmett return. The fight's looking pretty evenly matched when Jacob bursts outside and demands that they stop it. Sam's pack doesn't much care for that, and Jacob phases before he can get his reason out, so it's left to Edward to interpret between them. Jacob imprinted, and they cannot harm another wolf's imprint. "It's their most absolute law." The most absolute! Conflict averted. Edward makes a face like he cannot begin to fathom the ramifications of this latest wrinkle, which is fair enough.
Time passes while the venom takes over Bella's body, though the morphine keeps Bella howls of pain internal. Rosalie (!) washes and dresses Bella. Slowly, the venom restores her broken bones and sagging skin, even giving her a fab dye job, hot oil treatment, and full make up. Gotta get me some of that venom! As her heart skips its last, Bella's mind races over everything that brought her to this moment: vampires, werewolves, near death experiences. Mostly Edward, though. Finally, as her coven looks on, Bella's eyes snap open, blood red. TIME TO SPARKLE!
THE END! Or is it? Nope, Carlisle called Aro to let him know that Bella's one of them now, vampire-wise, but that's not enough for Aro to drop his feud. "They have something I want," he declares with such anticipatory glee that November 2012 seems a painfully long way off.
Too bad nothing comes of it. Spoiler?
So, book or film? Film. It's been so long since I cracked a Twilight book that I forgot just how boring they are. But sweet fancy Moses are they boring. Everyone just sits around talking about their feelings all the time. These are books about vampires, werewolves, and demon half-breeds, for pity's sake! Don't they have anything better to do?! Besides, the main characters are wildly more likable and accessible in film format, and all three leads have developed the roles nicely over the years. It's still a shame that the other vampires and wolves get short shrift, but it's to be expected.
Even so, the movie isn't perfect. Condon managed to lure Twilight composer Carter Burwell back, and it's great to hear his work woven into the scenes. Particularly triumphant is the return of Bella's lullaby. But while I'm a bigger fan of Burwell than the others we've heard, the wall-to-wall sound is unnecessary and oddly distracting when a twinkly piano accompanies a murder confession. There are also moments when you wish Rosenberg would toss Meyer's dialogue clear out the window. Still, when we crash into those bold red, black, and white credits to the tune of The Belle Brigades "I Didn't Mean It," it looks like Condon knows exactly what he's doing. Guess we'll know for sure next year.
Tags: average, body horor that could make david cronenberg flinch, book vs film, books, breaking dawn, cinema, demon baby, finally getting yours, imprinting is like tebowing, michael sheen is the one for me, team edward, team jacob, team who cares, twilight, why is the movie always better