The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part
One of the reasons for the high
popularity of Stephanie Meyer’s storytelling is because she manages to
establish and maintain many tensions at once. And
that’s a big reason the movies based on the books work so well, also.
The vampires are in tension with the (were)wolves.
Jacob and Edward form a love triangle with Bella.
Bella wants to have it both ways---marry one of them but still maintain a
close relationship with the other one. Bella’s
Dad alternately wants to protect her and wishes she’d grow up.
Mom cares, but lives out of State and is mostly absent.
The vampires and werewolves hate each other, but their mutual affection
for Bella makes for an uneasy peace that is both fragile and potentially
perpetual. The setting is the beautiful
and pristine Great Northwest, which also harbors the menace of powerful
creatures on the prowl. The vampire lair
is conflicted because of its truce with the humans through Bella, and Bella
herself understands that by marrying a vampire she will necessarily transform,
but she isn’t sure how, or how much. Nobody
seems to know if any progeny would result of such a union, and if so, what form
that progeny would take. But it might not
be benign (think “Rosemary’s Baby” with a kinder, gentler birthing).
The wolves can’t seem to decide if they’d rather be in their human or
animal form, so they alternate at will. But
their communication skills vary according to which form they choose at the time.
Some of the humans in the story know all about the supernatural stuff,
and some of them don’t. Add to all
those tensions the inherent contradiction of presenting a movie that is extreme
chick-flick in its wedding and honeymoon sequence, complete with moonlit
backdrops over a tranquil ocean, to the action/adventure/sci-fi component of the
warfare between the wolves and the vamps, and, well, it’s either all a
finely-interwoven balance or a bit of an uneven hodgepodge, and maybe some of
Of course, the whole series, books and
movies, comprise a kind of cult/camp cultural following, which includes the
launching into celebrity status of the main stars:
Edward, Robert Pattinson, Jacob, Taylor Lautner, and Bella, Kristen
Stewart. The three of them receive the
lion’s share of the screen time, so those who want to see plenty of their
heroes and heroine will not be disappointed. However,
their acting is underutilized in service of the plot.
Edward is mostly a lovestruck puppy, occasionally assuming the other
side of the same coin, the fierce protector. Jacob
alternates between the frustrated suitor and the stalwart liaison between
snarling factions ready to go to war at the drop of an insult.
Bella, of course, just wants everyone to get along, but she gets to
show some spine through her passive aggressive insistence that there is one
type of decision that she will not negotiate with anyone, and that’s
involving her own body. Kristen Stewart
is here presented both as the gorgeous, nervous bride and then the weak,
emaciated waif, but she still manages to speak without moving her lips, and
even to emote without changing expression. Her
theme song, at the end, could well be “What I Did For Love.”
This “twilight” saga delivers the
story for the true fan, but those not already caught up in the lore may have a
difficult time following all the assumptions. What’s
interesting to this critic is having all that behavioral and moral and
political tension without once even mentioning good or evil.
As if that’s better left unsaid. Perhaps,
but it’s also what we’re missing.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor,
St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,