Sunday Morning Movies: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

February 16, 2012

The most insipid of romances continues plodding along towards whatever conclusion Stephanie Meyer has cooked up in the first part of the finale to the outrageously titled Twilight Saga.  This segment, Breaking Dawn, picks up where Eclipse left off with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison) and Bella Swann (Kristen Stewart) getting ready for the big wedding.  Then they have the big wedding, and it is tedious as hell.  Then they have a honeymoon, where beds are broken and they run around and hilariously play chess – as though they ever stopped making moon eyes at each other long enough to work that out.  This might be the only time we’ve really spent anytime with them as a couple, and it comes in the form of a brisk montage so our understanding of how their relationship functions and what they actually see in each other is never advanced one iota.  Not that it’s a big deal or anything.  I gave up on that aspect of the story a long time ago and now simply accept that they Are.  

To get the specifics out of the way, Breaking Dawn Part 1 is probably the best of the series so far, which isn’t saying very much considering it is still terrible.  It just happens to be slightly less terrible than the three previous entries.  This can largely be put down to Bill Condon’s direction and the cinematography by Guillermo Navarro, who bring to the series a more sensible, and occasionally pretty, aesthetic – something that has been sorely lacking in the first three films.  It’s more subdued style doesn’t make the CGI wolves look any more convincing (indeed, the “psychic talking” scene might be the most obviously ludicrous in the franchise) or the acting any better, but it’s not out-and-out blandly ugly like New MoonBD:P-1 also features the best sequence in the franchise, which is the end credits which feature nice colours, a pleasing font, some jaunty guitar that has an air of absurdist fun about it that the somber series has sorely lacked.  It also leads to a post-credits tag that features Michael Sheen camping it up in a way that everybody else seems to think is unworthy of the Serious and Deeply Meaningful Twilight Saga.  It’s still laughably bad on the whole, of course, with the aforementioned tedious wedding leading to a honeymoon that kills the story dead for the first 45 minutes or so of its running time.  The ending is laughable but semi-amusing, and for once Bella actually has some degree of agency.  Lautner is still as awful as ever as the moping werewolf Jacob, who still seems disappointed that Bella doesn’t love him even though she has never once given him any reason to believe she ever would.  His stalking helps out in defending the vamps from his one-dimension pack of savages and leads eventually to one of the most creepy plot twists in the history of this particularly creepy series.

Spoilers from here on out

I have no idea what happens in the final part, though I suppose some sort of mucking about with the Vampire Council is better than moon-eyes and disagreements with wolves.  Still, as of yet, Meyer’s story doesn’t seem to have any guts whatsoever.  Oh sure, a Bella dies and is presumably turned into a vampire, but there doesn’t feel like there’s much of any consequence to the turning.  There’s no heft for the importance of humanity for the character and what is lost.  The incredibly entertaining CW series The Vampire Diaries has guts galore with regards to plot and character arcs, and it’s never afraid to truly explore the hellish and violent nature of the beastly vampires or the (often fatal) consequences of actions.  Edward plays lip service to the hunger for human blood that Bella will face early on through a flashback, but even then his killing of humans amounts to stalking murderers as a way of justifying it to himself.  He comes out and says its wrong, despite Bella pointing out that he probably saved more lives overall, but Edward is not convinced.  The audience, however, is fully convinced, and once again Meyer has sacrificed a genuine depth of character for the continued glorification of a Romantic Ideal.  Edward is perfect in every way.  He was from the start and he hasn’t changed one iota through the course of four films.  The only danger he poses to Bella is the voracious sexual appetite that can turn violent and horrible, in what is one of the least veiled attacks on sex in modern popular culture.

This inherent conservatism rears its ugly head even more explicitly in BD:P-1, when the surprise pregnancy threatens – and eventually takes – Bella’s life.  The film essentially relies on an anti-abortion argument in the case of a life-threatening pregnancy.  Full of its usual, stilted dialogue (“I can never love the thing that took you away from me.” “Don’t see it like that!” – such exchanges could be true-to-life for younger idiots but there’s no naturalism on display in their delivery), Bella decides she’d rather die for the beastly thing growing inside of her, and it eventually turns out to be the beautiful, miraculous choice for all involved.  Except for Bella, of course, who dies, but she’s turned by Edward so no big deal.  I know, I know, this is just lazy plotting and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything on its own, but taken in the larger context of the series as a whole, it sits right in with the twisted, backwards, puritanical morality that now feels pretty well-established.

Vampires must be the most written about metaphorical creatures in all of fiction, so any attempt to use them to tell a story is going to invite this kind of analysis.  What do the vampires mean?  How is it that the darker, beastly nature is balanced with some notion of goodness inherent to humanity?  Are they agents of evil or are they just slaves to nature, as humans once were?  These basic and silly questions – not even getting to the sexuality of the biting act – are never really addressed in the Twilight universe because any attempt to look at the characters from angles other than shining beacons of virtue and romance would dampen the spirits of the moronic writer and her army of followers.  Only a stupid person thinks of men’s sexuality as inherently violent and horrible and only controllable by a virtuous woman’s abstinence.  Only a stupid person could ever argue that a life-threatening pregnancy is no excuse for the immoral act of abortion.  And only a stupid person could possibly fall for this dimwitted, idiotic romance and its boring, boring, boring story and mythos.  There is nothing of any interest here beyond unchallenging notions of “love” that have no depth or plausible humanity.  This is about stupid people enjoying having their stupid ideas of Eternal And True Romance reinforced ad nauseum.  I’m not saying all entertainments have to be deep or smart or probing of values.  Simplistic films can be great and even moving, but they have to have something there for anyone to truly latch onto.  Twilight has nothing but blank faces and abs and glittering diamond skin.  It is childishly dull and overawed at its own Power and Sensitivity.  Only stupid people will fall for this bullshit.  I don’t want to say that if you like the Twilight series you are stupid, but I guess I kind of am.

-M

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One Response to “Sunday Morning Movies: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1”

  1. madeleine Says:

    i love this movie and my favorite character is edward i think hes sexy and i whould give it a 100% i love it and i love all of the aother actors


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