Last night I went to the cinema to see the final film in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn Part 2. I’m still not sure what my overall impression of the film was, whether I thought it was good or not. But I’m not going to spend this blog post reviewing the film; instead I want to reflect on the series, the novels and the whole Twilight phenomenon in relation to the storytelling process.
I’m going to start by admitting it – I love Twilight. For all its flaws, it is an intense and moving love story that has carved a niche for itself among readers of all ages.
But I’m going to be critical. The main problem with both the books and the films is that, at times, they are overly sentimental, emotional and even downright cheesy.
There’s a scene in the New Moon movie towards the end where Aro reads Alice’s mind and sees a vision of Bella and Edward running joyfully through the woods, as Bella is now a vampire. Unfortunately, during this beautiful moment of implied unity and romance, the entire cinema burst out laughing.
During my time at university studying creative writing, the tutors would hammer into us over and over again, “SHOW don’t TELL”. This is advice that would have greatly improved the Twilight novels. They’re all long books; I would have been inclined to cut a couple of hundred pages, especially from Eclipse. Much of the novel focuses on Bella and her struggle to choose between Edward and Jacob. Let’s face it, we all knew who she would choose, which renders much of the story pointless. Bella also spends a lot of time telling the reader in great detail how she feels. A big no-no on a writing course – but it’s certainly worked for Stephenie Meyer!
This brings me to my biggest gripe with the latest film. Anyone who has seen it and also read the books (or spent time listening to the infuriated ranting of someone who has) will know what I mean without me mentioning it. But if you haven’t seen the film yet, you might not want to read any further, because…
***ALERT, ALERT, SPOILER ALERT***
So, we’ve lost those who haven’t seen the film yet…wait, I’m not kidding, if you haven’t seen it yet this next bit will – spoil – the – end. Even if you’ve read the book.
So, back to the film and the climactic battle scene.
As the Volturi dragged Alice away, Carlisle broke from his family ranks and launched himself towards Aro. As the two warring vampires broke apart, Carlisle’s head rolled across the snow, severed from his body. The entire cinema let out a horrified gasp, exchanging shocked glances. This didn’t happen in the book! Surely Carlisle can’t be dead…they wouldn’t do this to us. Would they?
As the next few minutes passed by in a blur of computer enhanced fighting, more and more of our beloved characters died. Just as we have accepted that half the cast have been killed and our happy ending had been destroyed, the filmmakers pulled their final shocking stunt. The camera slammed back to Alice, her hand in Aro’s as he read her mind. That’s right folks – it was all a prediction of the future. The crowd in the cinema gasped again and muttered: “I can’t believe they just did that.”
Yep, that’s right. The old ‘it was just a dream’ twist. It’s pretty much the biggest violation of Storytelling 101, it’s cheating and it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. It’s like reading a crime novel, following the melancholy detective as he investigates a murder. Then you get to the end and suddenly he’s the killer. No fair.
I guess that’s why I can’t completely say I enjoyed the new film. When I first read the books I was captivated by the story, the characters and the passionate love felt by Bella and Edward. I felt inspired. But as the films have progressed, that feeling has been dulled by the promotional machine. The films are too glossy, too computer generated to be convincing. We won’t even mention this summer’s affair debacle that has thrown our favourite love affair out of alignment.
The only solution may be to return to the books, curl up on the sofa and climb into the world of Forks and feel the passion all over again. I’m a writer, but I can forgive all the flaws in the books because they capture something magical, not vampires or werewolves, but a genuinely convincing and engaging relationship that makes the reader’s heart beat faster.
I wish I could write a romance that enticing.