Twice bitten

Spoiler alert: post discusses Twilight series and movies.

I know we’ve been here before…but I just saw Eclipse!  Last time, I wrote about the books.  Now let me indulge in the movie world.

I went with a girlfriend to see Eclipse at D.C.’s Uptown Theater this week; we resignedly raised the average age a good decade.  I have to say the producers/directors/screenwriter have nailed the movies.  (I know people complained about New Moon, but how can you expect Edward to be on screen when he spends the book away from Forks?  And I like watching people feeling lovelorn.)

The movies are fiercely stylized, which is the only way to tell such fantastical and romantic stories of vampires and werewolves.  It’s a delightfully choreographed dance that unfolds and resolves itself.  The screenwriter is a genius: she somehow communicates hundreds of pages of critical information.  Although I can’t believe that non-readers would pick up on all the nuances without the book as background.

The screen is a lush visual feast from the mountains and forests to the magical meadow where we start (and end?) each film.  I could never quite visualize the Cullen’s home in the books, but I love its representation and the way in which it adds an extra layer of differentiation between Edward and Jacob: contrasting the middle class, modernist, cultured home of the Cullens with the blue collar, down to earth, homes on the reservation.

The computer-animated wolves are a challenge, but at this point I’m used to them. However, I was horrified that Victoria is now played by Bryce Dallas Howard instead of Rachelle Lefevre.

Rachelle (top) kicked ass on screen and Bryce has no power!  She looks scared!  Thankfully she has little screen time, but it was a major casting error.

The center of the movie is appropriately the delicious rivalry between Edward and Jacob that reaches new heights in Eclipse!

Team Jacob has much to be proud of…Taylor Lautner looked even hotter than last time around and he gets all the wisecracks.  Team Edward must have thrilled at Robert Pattinson’s anger and his romanticism and the ring!

At the end, we were sated and yet hungry for more.  Not least, the human/vampire sex that awaits us in book four.  And knowing of our appetites, the producers are generously spinning out the finale into two movies.  I’m game.

5 responses to “Twice bitten”

  1. Dave says:

    I still don’t understand how you can have a series of vampire movies in which there is no human/vampire sex until the fourth one. Vampires pretty much exist to have sex with humans!

  2. A White Bear says:

    It’s usually metaphorical, though.

  3. Stella says:

    #1 – dare I say you’re revealing yourself as…a man.

    The central narrative tension is the delayed gratification of union with Edward…the angst of unfulfilled desire and longing, which keeps its target audience of (many) women enthralled. To be sure, we’re ultimately rewarded with fabulous human/vampire sex….all the better for the long wait.

  4. Feminist Agonizing (over) Noxious (vampire) Genre Stories says:

    Dear Stella,

    Can we talk about the books rather than the movies for a minute? This has been on my mind for the past couple of months as I’ve been reading the first three books in S. Meyers’ Twilight Series.

    So…I am actually embarrassed to admit that I got hooked on these books when I had the grand idea to assign a portion of one (initially, only the first) in my women and gender studies courses. My idea was to get the students to critically analyze something from popular culture with which they were likely to be familiar. It would be all the better if they unthinkingly loved the stories. I would inspire them to think more critically about dangerous messages about gender, and, ideally, they would be grateful to me for helping to enlighten them.

    I mean, there is much to loathe in these books but, but, but, gosh darn it the stories are compelling. I could not stop drinking the Kool-aid, even after I got through the horribly pathetic story line in New Moon where Bella just could not function (was chronically ought-to-have-been-committed-depressed) after Edward left her. After Eclipse, I was seriously determined to stop reading. My thinking was that either I was becoming numb to the weakness of Bella’s character, or she was getting a stronger an agent on her own behalf (though far from a self-actualized individual). I wasn’t hating as much, and I was also BORED by the redundancies of unsatisfied yearnings and sophomoric displays of celebrated and rewarded machismo between Edward and Jacob.

    And now you have told me that there is an end to the abstinence porn…they DO in fact eventually have vampire-human sex, and it’s “fabulous”?! Oh dear, time to head up to the public library and get Breaking Dawn. Oh Stephanie Meyer, how I hate you. And Stella, I might hate you just a little bit too, because I really thought I was finished with these books. (And I don’t actually think the two movies I have seen have been all that compelling–certainly they would be lame w/o the backstory that comes from having read the books, as you wisely note.) But I just have to know about the inclusion of ACTUAL sex in the saga.

    I can’t think of anything else I’ve had such a love-hate relationship with as these books. What messages are they teaching young women, and does my inability to stop reading the books reflect my own internalization of problematic gender scripts, even as I hope to reference the books to help educate young people to do better though questioning many of the messages in them?

    I know your intent was to review the third FILM, but I’d be interested in knowing if you or any other readers feel ashamed for being drawn in to the content of the stories originating in and fundamental to the BOOKS. Am I giving them way more power to set back feminism than they deserve? Many thanks for your thoughts…


  5. Stella says:

    Dear FANGS –

    As feminists we question and reject the patriarchal and sexist narratives set up for women. But, they will not go away. They resonate with hundreds/thousands of years of cultural history and they resonate emotionally with what we feel for whatever reason (nature/nurture/political reality etc.) Where I see the needle move in gender and other politics is in the incremental changes expressed through the retelling and reinventions of familiar narratives.

    For example, in another arena, we can all pull apart Avatar, but the most interesting thing about that movie for me was the blatant rejection of colonization and invasion of other countries/planets. Did that stop the glorification of the white man as hero for the native people? No! But it’s a small step forward in the mainstream attitude to war.

    Similarly, in Twilight, we have the fundamentals of the prince charming story, but the interest is in the nuances. When Edward first proposes to Bella, she says no because she questions the institution of marriage. Ultimately she relents, but the idea that she wouldn’t fall swooning into his arms on the first go round is subversive in this genre. Also, I think there is an interesting playing out of her self determination to become a vampire. Edward leaves her in New Moon and takes control of her choices in order to protect her, but that ends badly and he eventually gives in to the fact that she wants to be with him and to be turned and he can’t stop her. Yes, he sets the condition of marriage for turning her, none of this is straightforward, but he accepts and respects her right to self-determination, and also gives in to her desire for human/vampire sex before she’s turned.

    So, we will all have a love/hate relationship with the books. What I would find interesting in an assignment is to have students interview teen girls about their attitudes to the movies and their attitudes to themselves.

    Also, when you have read book 4, earlier Stella musings on the books here:

    Just enjoy! And then deconstruct.