Ghosting A Review Of The Twilight Saga And Breaking Dawn 2
With the release of Breaking Dawn – Part 2, the final installment of The Twilight Saga is now complete, providing a good opportunity to look back at the story through the arc of the whole cinematic experience. By and large, the films were far better then the books written by Stephanie Meyer which were not as well crafted as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. What I was attracted to most was the mythological overtones of the story, particularly the similarity between Bella and the myth of Psyche and her long journey of love, trust, betrayal, suffering, sacrifice, redemption, transcendence and rebirth; all archetype symbols for human existence and evolution.
Reflecting on young Bella, the girl who first met Edward in Twilight to the epiphany she had at the end of Eclipse while trying to make sense of her life, this is a girl who finally discovered herself and her destiny when she said 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.”
The journey has been a long difficult road for Bella, growing up in Phoenix then moving to a small town in northern Washington to live with her father. It was an awkward adjustment through the first three films. She was an easily overlooked teenager with a lack of self confidence who became, by series end, an empowered immortal but not before facing many of the trials similar to those placed upon Psyche. Bella surmounted them all including a life threatening pregnancy while the audience identified along with her especially from the deepest depression in New Moon (still my personal favorite) to the pain she endured during her short but excruciating three week pregnancy at the end of Breaking Dawn, Part 1. At the brink of death, her burning transformation begins when her heart is injected with Edwards venom. Perhaps this is in part a reference to the Robert Frost poem, Fire And Ice, she recites at the beginning of Eclipse:
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
is also great
And would suffice.
The plot picks up exactly where Part 1 ends. Bella awakens after two days as a newborn vampire, but there are complications to face; Jacob has imprinted on Renesmee, Bella and Edwards newborn daughter who is growing at an unusually fast rate to the concern of everyone since there is no precedent for this. Bella goes through a fit of anger towards Jacob when she finds out about the “woofy thing”, but eventually comes around by showing her restraint which is unheard of in a newborn vampire. Then there is the Volturi who have been made aware of Renesmee’s existence. They have plans to destroy the Cullen clan for making what they believe is a child who was bitten and transformed into a vampire with no self control. But, its quite clear that Aro, played flamboyantly by Michael Sheen as the leader of the Volturi has been looking for an excuse to eliminate the Cullen’s and capture Alice who has the gift to see visions of the future, including the Volturi’s plan to attack two months before it will happen which gives them enough time to prepare. Alice and Jasper disappear with no explanation but not without leaving clues for Bella to find a way to protect her daughter from death.
The Cullen’s now face a threat that the clan cannot hope to win and decide the best course of action is to seek out other vampires around the world to come to Forks and witness the child’s growth and testify that she is not a transformed vampire, but the biological child of Edward and Bella born when she was mortal.
One witness is a vampire with the ability to see the gifts of others and identifies Bella’s power as that of a shield, a rare defensive ability that nullifies the psychic powers of all other vampires. This is why Edward could never read her mind or why the Volturi’s power failed to effect her. As an immortal her control of her gift intensifies with practice when she discovers she can project her shield and envelop anyone she chooses. But vestiges of her human doubt linger. Does she have enough time to find the discipline to focus and control her gift?
The relationship between Bella and Jacob has always been a very special part of this story. They are kindred spirits, a part of her mortal life that she carried over into immortality. It was Jacob who was there for her in New Moon after she was abandoned by Edward. She genuinely loves him and desperately needed him to help heal her broken heart when Edward disappears. But her love for him is more of a sister for her brother then as a mate. He on the other hand falls in love with her while keeping her alive and patiently helped her through the lowest point of her depression. Yet even he like Edward abandons her after he begins shape shifting into a wolf, confused about where he belonged and Bella’s heart is once again shattered. She begins to wither and seeks to end her life by jumping off a cliff, but its Jacob in the end that saves her from this fate.
This is one of the most poignant parts of the series because her mortal memories of that time remained intact and instilled the strong bond between them that helped the vampire Bella finally accept that Jacob’s love for her daughter is pure and extended from his love for her. She also realizes that he is the only one who is strong and fast enough as a wolf to escape and protect Renesmee from the Volturi if they refuse to listen. All this helps Bella overcome her initial anger that Jacob imprinted on her daughter. Over time, their deep friendship, now free from co-dependency, takes on a new level of love, trust and respect as he and the wolves stand with the Cullen’s as their allies against the Volturi.
Jacob has also been instrumental in helping Bella deal with the conflict of what to do about Charlie, her father. Over
the course of the first three films their relationship started out awkwardly but over time it grew and it remained a constant source of pain for Bella that Charlie, who she still loves dearly is suffering so much for having no closure. Even as a newborn vampire, she wants him in her life but is torn between keeping the vampire secret according to their law to protect and keep him safe. Jacob solves this dilemma by changing into a wolf in front of Charlie to reveal the magical world to him without compromising the vampire law. This allows Charlie to remain in her life and helps Bella realize how many times Jacob has proven his devotion as her beloved friend, something she wanted very much when she was still mortal. Jacob had become more than just an ally but an essential part of the Cullen clan. Even in the book, Sam acknowledges that Renesmee, imprinted by Jacob, is now part of their family too and the wolf pack will sacrifice their existence to save her in the final confrontation that is coming.
On the day that snow and ice sticks to the ground, the Volturi and its guard finally come as Alice saw in her vision. The lines are drawn and Carlisle in a conciliatory effort extends his hand in peace, but Aro is interested in the acquisition of power, not justice. After some initial dialogue between Carlisle and Aro, Alice and Jasper reappear unexpectedly. She offers evidence that Renesmee poses no threat. Aro reads her thoughts and in several seconds she shares a vision that reveals what the outcome of the confrontation will be if the Volturi do not change their mind. This is the twist in the story that is not in the book. When it ends Aro realizes that the vision he saw would come to pass if he does not back off, but the Volturi are arrogant.
Alice offers Aro a witness she found in Brazil, another half human half vampire that proves that what Renesmee will become wont be a threat to the vampire world, giving Aro a diplomatic way to back off. The Cullen’s have won and Bella discovers from the hybrid that Renesmee will continue to grow and fully mature seven years after her birth and then stop aging.
The final epilogue to the saga takes place in the field Bella and Edward frequently visited in past films, together side by side surrounded by flowers. Bella has practiced with her shield and is now able to withdraw it from herself and allows Edward to read her thoughts. She shows him her memories from the past four films. All the images of the young Bella when she first met Edward as a mortal in Twilight, to her depression when he abandons her in New Moon, to her accepting his proposal in Eclipse and their marriage and honeymoon in Breaking Dawn, Part 1; allowing the images to flood his mind. Finally she says, “No one has every loved anyone as much as I love you,” and this is where The Twilight Saga ends.
Twilight was directed by Catherine Hardwick, New Moon by Chris Weitz, Eclipse by David Slade and Breaking Dawn, both parts by Bill Condon. The screenplay for all five films was written by Melissa Rosenberg and starred Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner in the main roles. For a full list of the cast check the IMDb link. The film runs 115 minutes and is rated PG-13.