Unrequited Love And The Twilight Saga
Reviewing the Twilight Saga is not as easy as it sounds. It’s a complicated story exploring the progression of unrequited love among frustrated lives struggling to be normal while living under a cloudy sky and perpetual rain in Washington near the Canadian border. The tale is based on the four novels written by Stephenie Meyer and is being told in five movies that faithfully follows the books.
Bella Swan, portrayed by Kristen Stewart is an attractive seventeen year old girl of divorced parents who arrives in Forks, Washington in the first film, Twilight, released in 2008. Her self image expresses a wounded psyche, “I’m the kind of girl that suffers in silence” as she apologizes for her clumsiness rather than seeing the beauty others see in her.
The most outstanding thing about the film, directed by Cathrine Hardwicke with a screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg is the rain. When Edward played by Robert Pattinson and his family enter the lunchroom everything changes. Mysterious, he sulks as Bella gazes at him and their eyes lock. Later, in biology lab Edward appears as if he is going to vomit when he looks at her, storming out of the classroom leaving her feeling reviled. Finally, after some puzzling events, Bella googles, “the cold one’s,” and discovers that the Cullen’s are vampires, and Edward has been seventeen for a long time, accumulating decades of teenage angst at the age of 109. He later reveals his attraction to Bella,”I’ve never craved anyone’s blood like I want yours.” She responds, “I trust you. ”
Bella’s relationship with her father from whom she has been estranged is awkward, adding to the alienation she already feels. Charlie, played by Billy Burke, is her young dad who is himself trapped in his own emotional withdrawal in a boring existence without any passion as the chief of police. Although the love and concern they have for each other is apparent, the conversations between them are strained as they have little to talk about.
The stakes are amplified as Bella is threatened by James, a powerful rogue vampire who almost kills her. He is eventually dismembered and burned to cinder by the Cullen clan, allowing Edward to take Bella to the prom night dance where she declares her love and expresses a desire to become a vampire and lurk the forest with him.
New Moon, released in 2009 was directed by Chris Weitz in a screenplay again written by Melissa Rosenberg picks up where the first film left off. Bella and Edward are now openly involved, but age is catching up with her as her eighteenth birthday approaches and she dreams of getting so old that Edward will no longer want her. A party is planned at the Cullen’s house and the event turns into a nightmare as she cuts her finger dripping blood on the carpet that turns Jasper, Edwards brother played by Jackson Rathbone into a carnivorous rage. Edward, realizing the danger decides to leave Bella for good, “you don’t belong in my world,” he says, asking her not to do anything reckless and in return promises, “this is the last time you will ever see me, and you can go on with your life without me.” The plot proceeds to develop the love triangle between Bella and Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner as the younger post pubescent member of the Quileute tribe who she seeks solace from as months of deep depression take its toll after Edward leaves.
Bella soon realizes that by taking risks, Edward comes to her as an apparition guiding her towards safety. She becomes intentionally self destructive and seeks to provoke his appearance, hoping he will come back. She uses Jacob to ease her pain as he begins to get feverish and discovers his werewolf nature, a genetic trait he inherited from his Native American heritage carried by his ancestors to protect the tribe and it’s land. Life gets even more problematic for Bella as Victoria, the vampire mate of James from the first movie stalks her to seek revenge for his death by the Cullen’s.
As Jacob and his pack protect Bella, Edward calls to see if she is well but is led to believe by Jacob who answers the phone that she is dead. Overwhelmed by sadness, Edward decides to go to the Volturi, the vampire counterpart of the Vatican located somewhere in Italy to ask to be killed. The Volturi is the ruling body of vampire law with members who have special powers to maintain order. Distraught and intent on saving Edward, Bella flies to Italy to stop him from ending his life. Alice, his sister, superbly played by Ashley Greene accompanies her. When Bella saves Edward, she also encounters the Volturi who intend to kill her, but agree to let her go with the provision that she be turned into a vampire.
Eclipse, the third installment of the saga, released on June 30, 2010 was directed by David Slade with the script (all five) written by Melissa Rosenberg. Now we have an army of newbie vampires, created and trained by Victoria to track Bella and destroy the Cullen clan who has formed an alliance with the wolves to protect her and Forks in a final confrontation.
The love story between Bella and Edward becomes more complicated as she is now approaching her nineteenth birthday, two years older than Edward in mortal reckoning. She is pressuring him to turn her before the age difference becomes more noticeable. He urges her to marry him first, but she is reluctant to tie the knot, “Its just a piece of paper,” she remarks. He reminds her, “I come from another era when courting, drinking iced tea on the porch and asking her father for her hand in marriage is the way it was done.” When Charlie expresses his discomfort with Edward, Bella proclaims, “Hey dad, I’m still a virgin.” Charlie responds, “well, I like that boy even more now.” But Edward still grapples with guilt over turning Bella because he feels it would be a selfish act and understands the consequences to her soul even if she doesn’t.
The action is predictable, a final battle between Victoria’s army and the alliance of the Cullen clan and Wolves end in success for the forces of good but not without some physical injuries to Jacob who also hurts when he hears that Bella has accepted Edwards proposal of marriage. She kisses Jacob but declares to Edward, “I love him, but I love you more.”
Despite the flaws in the script, the bad acting and the incessant rain, I liked all three installments. It’s a story narrated from Bella’s perspective about how everything that has happened has led her to make the decision to become a vampire.
At the end of the film she says to Edward. “This wasn’t a choice between you and Jacob, it was between who I should be and who I am. I’ve always felt out of step, literally stumbling through my life, I’ve never felt normal because I’m not normal. But now I know I don’t want to be. I’ve faced death and loss and pain in your world, but I’ve also never felt stronger, more real, more myself because its my world too. Its where I belong.”