Having just seen the movie, here are some basic impressions:
There is a sense in which seeing “Twilight” the movie is a relief after reading the books because you get spared all the disturbing descriptive language. The film is not as intense as a consequence. Edward’s nightly nocturnal visits to Bella’s bedroom really only amount to two brief occurrences on screen – one in which we get a thankfully brief introduction to the passion between Bella and Edward, which Edward cuts off quickly. I was very grateful that there was no audio of Bella’s thoughts during the whole thing – which we are unfortunately never spared in the novels! There is no way they could put the contents of the books in this movie and keep it a PG-13, so I suspect that’s why the sexuality had to be toned down. Fewer parents could be duped into taking their young girls to see an R rated film, and poor Stephanie Meyer wouldn’t even be able to view her own picture if her claim to have never seen an R rated movie is true. The violence in the story came off as much more intense than in the book, however. You see why you never want to get on a vampire’s bad side. The other thing I noticed is that on the screen, the story comes off sillier than the book because when you take a human being and try to make him fit the unattainable description found in Meyer’s novels, it just doesn’t work. In one scene, I actually burst out laughing (when Edward appears ill at Bella’s arrival in Biology class) because it seemed so dumb.
My overall feeling watching the movie was one of sadness for Bella.
She moves to this little town in Washington in the middle of March during her junior year of high school because her mom has got a new man who plays minor league ball and the happy couple are moving down to Florida together for Spring training. Bella speaks of how her mom had stayed home for her in the past, but she was obviously unhappy, so Bella wanted her to move on. The selfishness of the mother is palpable.
Plenty of “normal” kids try to welcome Bella and make her feel at home, but she simply isn’t interested in them. She is fascinated by the guy who isn’t very nice to her. It’s definitely weird – I guess it is that smoldering “bad boy” appeal. She actually says to him early on “Your mood swings are giving me whiplash”. He does seem moody and, frankly, unattractive. They just seem to be physically attracted to each other from the start and everything is predicated on that. Bella can’t enjoy spending time with anyone else – girls, boys, her dad… she really is obsessed.
I think the most telling scene in the film is when Bella figures out that Edward is a vampire. He explains that she does not fear him because she believes a lie. He tells her “I’m the world’s most dangerous predator… everything invites you in… my voice, my face, my smell… I’m designed to kill… I’ve killed before”. And what is Bella’s emphatic response? “I DON”T CARE!” Her only fear? LOSING HIM.
At that point, my internal radar was firing off – this is downright SATANIC!
The angel of light has come and she will end up selling her soul for him by the end of the series. That is terrifying! What is more terrifying still is the fact that millions of girls feel the same way, and their mothers are claiming that Edward is an example of a virtuous gentleman… the deception is a powerful one!
And it doesn’t stop there. The Cullens (Edward’s “family” – comprised of other, non-blood related vampires who live under one roof with father figure, Dr. Cullen, and his wife) are so welcoming to Bella – they invite her in to their beautiful, airy, spacious and modern home where art hangs on the walls and classical music beckons. We find this happy family in a kitchen they have never used before (vampires don’t eat, of course), eyes on a television cooking show as they work together to prepare a special Italian meal for their guest. You get the feeling that no one has ever shown Bella this amount of hospitality in her life. They take her out with the family to play a game of vampire baseball and rally round to protect her from wicked vampires who seek to take her life. It reminded me of the attraction young men can have to gangs. They will join a group of dangerous people – who cares what they do? – and even want to become one of them just for that sense of belonging and family. Yes, the Cullens try to avoid killing humans, but they are still VAMPIRES! And Bella definitely wants to become one of them…
That is left for the obvious sequel.
Today, I saw girls as young as 7 or 8 in the theater. I suspect the movies, like the books, will continue to get darker. (Please see the review on the book series “The Twilight Saga” on this page.) I can’t see how they’ll get through all four without an R rated picture – but maybe they are just counting on the fact that most of their audience will be old enough to get in by then…