Twilight Movie Review
Vampires are no laughing matter... except in this movie.
By Mark Hadley, originally produced for www.sydneyanglicans.net
The last thing any distributor wants to hear is a room full of critics laughing – when the film they are marketing is not a comedy. Such was the fate of Twilight at the screening I attended.
Twilight is based on the first book in the internationally best-selling series by Stephanie Meyer about a romance between a teenage girl and a repentant vampire. In it, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a teenage girl from a broken home in sunny Phoenix, moves to stay with her father in the township of Forks. There she meets and falls in love with the adorable Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Their relationship has some rocky ground to negotiate, not the least of which is the revelation that Edward is an ancient creature of the night.
Meyer’s description of the vampires in her book is of a race of incredibly beautiful people with pale skin. They possess irresistible voices, dazzling eyes and alluring scents. It was always going to be interesting to see how this translated to the movies. Sadly, the answer is ‘not well’.
Each of the vampire characters was greeted with repressed giggles. Someone had clearly interpreted ‘pale’ as ‘pancake’. Their lips sported deep red lipsticks and their eyebrows were darkened with mascara, so that they more resembled fans of The Cure than creatures of the night. Furthermore, it appears that the only way the producers could think of making good looking actors look extraordinarily good looking was to give them big hair.
Meyer’s books have presented a fresh vision of vampires that might actually be useful to the Christian faith. Like the book, the film presents vampirism as something more like addictive behaviour, which the hero, Edward, is trying desperately to combat. In that context, Bella’s love for him is the love of the Beauty for the Beast. Her love will remain with him, even though he is at times quite unlovely.
Love is constantly interpreted as a reason for doing the stupidest things. Twilight the film, presents love as the ultimate reason for doing the unreasonable. “I’m a killer. I’m the world’s most dangerous predator,” Edward warns Bella. “I don’t care. I trust you,” Bella replies. “Don’t,” he warns, but Bella is just gazing into his eyes. “I don’t have the strength to stay away from you,” Edward says. “Then don’t,” Bella replies. Not surprisingly, the sexual elements of the film are a lot stronger than those of the book.
For many Christians, deciding whether or not to see this film will be as simple as hearing that it’s plot involves vampires. Fair enough. For others, particularly teens, the vampire has become something of a modern day dissident, like the James Dean figures of a previous generation. It is helpful that the heroine isn’t a rebel without a cause. She is prepared to trade peace, public opinion and ultimately her life for a love that will literally last forever.
BELLA: “I know what I want – I want to be with you forever.”
EDWARD: “Isn’t it enough to spend a long happy life with me?”
No, Edward. Once you know where eternal happiness can be found, then this life will never be enough.