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Twilight: Breaking Dawn. Why Do People Hate it So Much?

Well, of course, a lot of people like Twilight a lot.

Boxofficemojo tells us Breaking Dawn, the 4th in the series, has pulled in $226 million in 13 days, and the entire series over $1billion. That’s a lot of ticket sales, from a lot of happy viewers.

But you know what I mean. The whole franchise has attracted lots of sneering, lots of contempt, lots of derision for those who dare to say they like it.

To a lot of people these movies are mindless, pappy, simplistic crimes against cinema.

I’m not sure why the phenomenon makes people so angry, why they don’t just ignore it.

I came late to the Twilight franchise. Saw the second one, thought it was better than I’d expected, was dragged to the fourth one last night.

And, to my surprise, I really enjoyed it.

Oh sure, it’s slow. Languorous tending to glacial sometimes, mainly because they like to hold on to their moments. (Boy do they like to hold on to their moments. They squeeze everything they can out of each emotional beat. I had to laugh as they held a shot, held a beat of love, or despair, or grief, held it on and on until I felt they couldn’t possibly get any more out of it – and then they did!)

But this movie knows why Science Fiction/Fantasy is such fun – it takes its metaphors, its themes, and makes them concrete on screen.

And that works so well in this case because Twilight, Breaking Dawn isn’t messing about with trivialities.

Breaking Dawn is primal.

From the very opening monologue it’s about some of the deepest things we have: what it takes to become an adult, and what falling in love can involve.

And it hits these concerns full centre, full power.

First of all it’s a neat dramatisation of a Love dialectic. We get both versions. Classic romantic, an eternal truth (the vampires), and a more cynically deconstructed scientific notion of a gene-spreading imperative that deceives about its true nature (the imprinting of the werewolves).

Then it’s about fundamental, primitive role models and mythic archetypes. All consuming romantic pairings. The stakes and dangers of giving yourself to another.

The classic coupling of sex and death is put on screen so graphically in Bella’s wedding night. That ominous sense of doom, that starts so early, and gets ever more potent the closer they get to the bedroom, is very powerful.

And deservedly so. In this story it’s a serious possibility if she and Edward make love he will lose control and tear her apart.

And yet she loves him much she does it anyway.

And, like a real, strong man, the most desirable kind of man (in archetypal terms) he could destroy her but he controls himself.

And as a result they both have ‘the best night of their existence’.

Doesn’t that drive deep into the terrible anxiety about sexuality that plague most of us somewhere deep down when we are teenagers – and hits some people for the rest of their lives?

And then, impossibly, she’s pregnant. This can’t happen – but it does. And not in a good way. In a very, very scary bad way.

It’s growing too fast, it’s out of control, who knows what’s in there…?

Another primal target hit full on.

There’s another theme woven throughout: the basic rite of passage, the time when you replace your family for your lover and you become an adult.

One of my favourite moments in the whole movie is the wonderfully funny look of anguished, determination on the father’s face at his daughter’s wedding.

(Incidentally, this is a theme shared with Mama Mia – perhaps not coincidentally another much sneered at global smash.)

Twilight asks How important is Love? How far would you go? Would you leave everything you value? Would you step into a dark unknown? Would you surrender to a far greater power? Would you dare to swap your soul for love of another? Would you? Would you really? And if you would, how incredible must the experience of that love be?

Oh, and finally, it’s about Bella. An ordinary teenage girl, who just happens to be the centre of a massive web of protection, practically the centre of the world.

Just about every event in the story, every concern of every character, is Bella driven. Her safety, and her emotional wellbeing moves everyone.

If you were a teenage girl wouldn’t you thrill to that idea?

Come on. Don’t be curmudgeonly. What’s wrong with making films for teenage girls? Don’t they deserve a bit of the magic too? Especially when it goes so deep into what makes us human.

Genuinely loved it. Can’t wait to see what happens next time.

Oh, and if you want to get into another animated debate here’s another post about Lord of the Rings wiping the floor with Harry Potter. There’s a pretty lively comments section…

  1. I haven’t seen the movies, but I have read a lot of the trashing about the books. Aside from the comments about it being badly written (which I believe just comes down to a matter of taste.) I’ve heard a lot of venom thrown at the series from two specific groups:
    Feminists: A lot of people feel that the Edward/Bella relationship is unhealthy, with people finding it romantic for someone to break into your window and watch you sleep, not to mention that once Edward leaves, there are ten solid blank pages in the middle of “Breaking Dawn,” as if her life is so meaningless without him, she has no reason to think.
    Sci-fi Fans: A lot of people don’t like the fact that Meyer completely gutted vampire myth, completely removing their major weaknesses (bloodlust and sunlight) , and basically creating a vampire in name only. This (very long, so be warned) article sums up a lot of people’s vitriol.

  2. My apologies. The blank pages were in “New Moon,” not “Breaking Dawn.”

  3. I haven’t watched it yet but from your vivid analysis, I am going to watch it this weekend. I might get a few (emotional) ideas form my movie too.

    “I steal from every movie ever made.” Quentin Tarantino

  4. My distatse for the Twilight franchise goes back to the books. Through out the years, the variuos art mediums have gone through transformations from purely artistic expression to a pure economic model as means to make money. Over a lot of years we’ve seen music reach the point, where muscians like Britney Spears are created to merely pander to a particular demographic and sell records. I’m not saying she doesn’t have an artistic message to spread, but lets face it, she’s more of ‘brand’ than an artist. Nowadays films like Transformers can make millions despite the fact they have little or no storyline, but they have lots of special effects. Aparently excitment sells tickets over story.
    Twilight for me, is the first clear example of a piece of literature based prmiarily on market reasearch. I think Stephanie Meyer is a very smart woman, with a lot of talent, but the Twilight books only exist to pander to a particular demographic. There’s nothing unique, original, or even powerful about its message. Its just there to sell books. Meyer may be talented, but she’s not an artist. She merely created a brand. And for me, there is something not right about that.

  5. Twilight is a franchise that knows its audience really, really well. Writers could learn from this! Yes, it is torturous for an adult audience because those people have perhaps forgotten how overblown and overwhelming being a teenager is. Every emotion, every feeling is enormous and some of these emotions are being experienced like this for the very first time. Twilight is very clever and, although it felt a bit weird (luckily my wife was with me), I really enjoyed watching the young audience react to the second film when I went to see it. Spot on Phil.

  6. I think I can offer my simple thoughts on why so many people (myself included) dislike Twilight.

    First thing I should say that as a girl, I was 16 when I read the first book and 18 when I finished the entire series, Breaking Dawn included. So I was arguably inside the intended demographic and I slogged through them not because they gripped me but because I’m a big reader and a book is a book.

    In my eyes, Twilight is one big wish fulfilment for the author and for that reason, Bella as a character is such a bland empty void on the page, it’s a real struggle to like her or care about her. The self-projecting on the author’s part is so evident, right down to the description of Bella (which is pretty much an exact description of the author, although possibly a younger version). Its an embarrassing read, like I’m reading something private and immature.

    Don’t even get me started on the sparkling!

    Then there’s the whole “Edward is a big creep” factor. Don’t get me wrong, I was very drawn to Edward’s description initially but when he starts to break into Bella’s house to watch her sleep and Bella is flattered(!!!) about this, you know something is wrong, mostly because there is no sign of Bella being an unreliable narrator.

    Then, ignoring the fact that Edward is dead and Jacob is a werewolf, Jacob actually falls in love with Bella’s daughter Renesmee. This is “imprinting”, a werewolf thing where they kind of mark their territory on someone by falling in love with them, and that person will automatically fall in love back. It’s not a choice but Jacob actually falls in love with Renesmee whilst she is still an unfertilised embryo, as is explained in the books…

    Apparently Jacob was never in love with Bella, he was in love with the contents of her body… It’s mental, basically! I find this a big creepy part of Twilight too!

    Those are my two reasons for disliking Twilight: the blatant wish fulfillment and the creepy factor.

    I know people cite Bella as an anti-feminist or the vampire mythology being ruined as reasons to hate the series but I don’t mind these two because I don’t see them as flaws in the writing, they’re simply part of the story.

    What is probably worth noting, however, that out of my entire Creative Writing class who bash Twilight, I am the only person to have read even one of the books.

  7. I only watched the first film and I did hated it it for many reasons. For those that do, well good for them. For one;Bella is a perfect character. She has no faults or flaws and has no personality, unless you count clumsiness, yet, Edward always catches her and saves her. That’s boring…Edward also has no flaws and is perfect.

    The whole movie is cliche’ beyond cliche’ and so predictable. Vampires sparkle. Huh? Play baseball? say what? All of this would make Ann Rice roll over in her grave. Wait…she’s not dead yet. So let’s move on.

    It’s whole plot about forbidden love. Seen it a million times only the other movies were better.

  8. I must admit I had a lot of preconceptions about twilight and I struggled to watch it with the very blue colour correction. As the film went on I found myself interested in the two main characters and what the film did with the vampire legend. I think they took some of the acting style from the Batman movies sort of quiet brooding and a fake reality with it’s own truth. They created a believable world like the best films do. It was unpredicatable from the characters point of view although predicatable in a familiar story that we all knew would end a certain way.

    The leads intriguing love story though had enough that reminded us of what it was like to be that age and so kept my attention.

    I think this was a case of the screenplay not being that good but then a film is not the result of just that. Mustn’t forget a film has input from the filmakers and in this case takes the film up a few notches. The casting acting and directing did a lot more than the screenplay would have allowed.

    I think the book “which I haven’t read” might have traded more on the well constructed world it created and not so much the story which is about first love and which was well created by the film makers.

    Thanks to the leads portrayal and the directors work and the world created, I enjoyed the film.

  9. Adults (that is, those among the high brow, Kafka/Guardian-reading sect) along with similar in the screenwriting world seem to forget one teeny weeny thing. Twilight is aimed at teenagers. And it is they that flock to Waterstones and Leicester Square come premiere night. And so, I say, best to keep schtum lest your words expose the true sentiment here: envy. And for those not into re-hashed vampire flicks. Simply. Don’t go. Sorted.

  10. Heather I dont think it matters what age you are if a film is good then its good. Doesn’t matter if a film is set on another planet or ancient greece or anything in between. The real story is about story and characters no matter what the setting.

    I wonder how many of twilights critics have actually watched the film all the way through.

  11. Because this is the film ‘business’, tent pole franchises, like this series will often sacrifice story, acting, concerns of special i interest groups, etc., to create a financially successful endeavor to satisfy the needs of the investors. We understand many of the comments posted here. As a result, we are accepting submissions from previously unproduced screenwriters for our next project and would request that you reference this blog site to ensure a timely response.

  12. @Mark. True. In very much the same way Harry Potter was directed at kids, yet attracted many an age. Truly. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a film. A story. Fiction. Escapism. Make believe. Vampires are not real. (Feminists: Edward is beating up on Bella after a good night out with the lads on a Friday night). And so my real point is, nobody forces anyone to part with their hard earned to go and watch something that doesn’t appeal to them. And really, compared to say, Transformers. Twilight is an Oscar winner :-)

  13. I think twilight is a dangerous love story ,but it is totally a love story and a good one at that.I havent read the books but I am addicted to the movies Robert Pattinson is so gracefull in this movie he is Twilight ,I think he really took this part seriously some parts of the story are a bit creepy though I must admit but when you are a 16 year old and a guy as handsome as Edward takes an interest in everyting about you its happy times ,however Twilight has managed to attract even the older guys like me because some elements in this love story are what some of us wish for or have experienced before .Bella is not as powerful in the movie but because of Edward she becomes very interesting I dont think anyone could have brought honour to the character of Edward other than Robert and this character must have been really hard for him since he was not even seventeen ,twilight brings a lot of living issues about life to our screens and it askes questions that most of us young and old need answers to but are limited by socialisation berriers.

  14. Okay so basically i don’t really understand why this movie got so much attention. At first when i heard of the movie i didn’t want to watch it and i would not even dare to download it, i heard people saying it was all about vampires and other saying that i shouldn’t watch it whenever i would mention it.

    The by some accident i watched it once, i was getting ready to watch some star trek on a dvd i had just made, and then all of the sudden i see some movie resembling the trailer i saw, so i’m like, oh okay i’m alone now and i don’t have anyone who is going to nag me so i’ll watch it a bit.

    It was very interesting, especially cause i am the sci fi/fantasy kind of guy. But i still don’t get it why people hate it…

    I mean it is just a movie, and honestly i don’t think that it deserves that much attention at all. Lets be honest here, there were no famous actors in the first part for us to look at it like WTF, it was nothing new, i mean we all saw vampire movies so its kinda over used where as harry potter was something new at the time of the first movie.

    everyone was shocked to see a boy magician learning to live his life because no one saw anything that was in that fashion.

    Where as in the twilight case… i mean we all saw buffy the vampire slayer, charmed where we too saw vampires…
    Blade 1 and 2, they are all different and have different definitions of vampires but they are mostly the same…

    Lets analyze twilight… it is basically the same as everything before but the following:

    -vampires can walk in the sun….
    -vampires glitter and shine on the sun…. nothing new.

    And the warevolves…. Only one word… UNDERWORLD, heck underworld didn’t get this much attention and i think it was an amazing movie, not to mention that you would hardly find any troll pictures or comparison insults that would go against underworld…

    But even all that is said i don’t really see why people hate it so much… it is not offencive in any way…

    I mean lets be honest i don’t hate justin bieber that much but he annoys me, because he let the fame change him etc. so i kinda get it why a lot of people hate him. But i don’t understand why twilight is so hated.

    At least it can’t shock you by being played in your favorite caffee and you get all WTF like when hearing a really hateful song/performer…

    Its all superficial. Rihanna annoys me… there is a song RUDE BOY and it says IS YOU BIG ENOUGH and i’m like WTF is that all about, why would she sing about THAT… and at first i was like screw that, but the song has a nice beat. I don’t like her but i love the song. I’m full of examples lately ay? XD

  15. Well I only saw the first film and I wondered if the sequels could pull off what the first one did. So much so I havent yet bought into them. Bella is played by an LA actress and isn’t actually drop dead gorgeous but she has that mystique many young girls try to create My first love liked David Bowie very stylish and frequently commented on my neandertal ways while she on the other hand was one of the special people. In fact reminded me a lot of Bella and that made me warm to her. As for the rest Maybe my neanderthal ways stop me from appreciating any deeper meaning apart from being charmed by Bella. Take her away and I think you’d have a film in need of a physchiatrist. I can understand the point of view though of those who don’t feel a connection to Bella IE Trekkies often miss out on first loves All that DVD collecting. I must admit to also being a Trekkie too but more for a time when it had stories by Gene roddenbury that were fun educational and moral but not of the latest film that seemed plastic with its nicy shiny anamorphic lighting and really REALLY silly story that sought to remove the previous works to a forgotten timeline to reset itself as a new franchise departing from the values that made the old series great. How could Plastic Kirk get thrown off a starship fight a monster roll down a cliff and just happen to bump into Scottie And his silly promotion to Captain by way of err just taking it. No rising through the ranks for this wanna be playstation generation just take it like all spoilt brats.

    Startrek Harry potter Clash of the titans Transformers To name a few of the NOW generation films As Heather has said Twilight should get an oscar for at least making something watchable that doesn’t feel like an X box game promo

    Bring back the one and only Kirk even now its not to late.

    As for Twilight new moon. I’m tempted very tempted to watch it especially as its so cheap to buy I would never steal the film off the internet and put it on a DVD simply awful thing to do.

  16. You know the problem with Twilight are the actors. You know if you watch Kristen Stewart she usually shrugs or looks down and pulls her hair back. Shark boy, god forbid if he doesn’t take his shirt off the world would end. Also a bunch of shirtless guys running in the forest together. Does nobody find that weird? It seems to me that most of the movies coming out just need someone that looks great for the movie to be a success. Look at Transformers: Dark side of the moon. The exchanged Megan Fox for her 2.0 version. That girl wasn’t even an actress. She was a Victoria secret model.

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