Today: March 4, 2024

Twilight Lessons

For four years now Twilight has been one of the most unlikely film successes in movie history. A series of five films about a girl falling in love with a vampire and werewolf simultaneously

For four years now Twilight has been one of the most
unlikely film successes in movie history. A series of five films about a girl
falling in love with a vampire and werewolf simultaneously. Sounds more like an
art house horror flick than an international blockbuster, yet, against all
odds, Twilight has become one of the biggest film franchises in the world. But
what has this series taught us? Do all girls like quiet, pale guys? How do
wolves talk to each other? Does Taylor Lautner own any T-Shirts? As the eagerly
awaited final film, Breaking Dawn: Part 2 is released later this month, Greg
Evans ponders just what Twilight has taught us …

Michael Sheen Just Wants to Have Fun
With big star
names dominating the Twilight
franchise, it’s easy to overlook its use of one of the best current actors in
the world. Michael Sheen, above
anyone else in these films, seems to be having an immense amount of fun. As Aro, head of the evil Volturi, he is the one truly menacing
character in this series. For a man who usually plays real life individuals (Brian Clough, Tony Blair, David Frost)
it’s easy to forgive Sheen kicking back and just enjoying a role for once.
Small cameos have restricted him so far but we are guaranteed to see more of
him in Breaking Dawn: Part 2.

Werewolves Shouldn’t Talk
One of the most
problematic scenes from Breaking Dawn: Part 1 was when the Black Werewolf Clan
had a conversation with each other, in wolf form. While that shouldn’t be much
of an obstacle, director Bill Condon’s
use of CGI here is quite embarrassing. The wolves’ mouths don’t move at all.
This leaves the viewer staring at some angry wolves while a weird audio of the
actors’ voices plays over the top. Unintentionally cringe worthy, this is one
of the silliest moments the franchise so far,

Male Heartthrobs Are Back
For too long guys
have had it all their own way. The ‘90’s and 00s gave boys an endless stream of
beautiful actresses, with which to adorned their bedroom walls. Girls, though,
had very little to get excited about. With stars like Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp
growing gracefully into middle age, Hollywood desperately needed some fresh
young faces to keep female audiences interested. Enter Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Two contrasting men, with
different personalities and lifestyles, who captured the hearts of women around
the globe. Not since Elvis Presley
or The Beatles has male heartthrob
hysteria run so high. The Team Edward vs. Team Jacob was a cunning marketing
ploy that exploited this to great effect.

Vampires Have Feelings Too
For Twilight to
be successful, it needed to do something new and fresh with the legendary
vampire. The history of film has shown them in many different lights. Scary
bloodsuckers (Dracula, Nosferatu),
brash and cocky teenagers (The Lost Boys)
and sexy but devilish lesbians (Daughters
Of Darkness
). Controversially, Twilight’s unique turn was to give them
human emotions that allowed viewers to identify with these previously cold
figures. It’s all a far cry from Max
Schreck
creeping up a staircase but it allowed the myth to be adopted by a
new generation of fans keen to learn about night dwellers.

Flashbacks Are Intriguing
Often hailed as
the best of the saga so far, Eclipse
demonstrated a fantastic use of flashbacks to show the wider stories of the
Cullen family. Jasper was once a Civil War soldier who was turned into a
vampire for the sole purpose of breeding an army on the undead. Rosalie,
another Cullen family member, tells the story of how she was raped and beaten
to near death by a gang of men, one of which was her fiancée. After being
turned into a vampire she became murderous and took vengeance on those who had
done her wrong. Breaking Dawn Part 1
also took the time to give us a small glimpse of Edward’s history, as a
vigilante in the 1930’s, who saved women from potential attacks from predatory
men. All of these scenes are dark and fascinating, actually proving to be some
of the more cinematic moments in the franchise. These stories alone would be
strong enough as movies themselves.

Billy Burke Is The Man
Of all the
characters that get talked about and adored by Twilight fans, the best is
always overlooked. Charlie Swan,
played by Billy Burke is quite literally amazing. Always funny but in a dry,
deadpan way, his style really fits into the pseudo-serious nature of the films.
He acts oblivious to his daughter’s escapades with vampires and werewolves but
he knows exactly what is going on. Along with Michael Sheen, Burke appears to
be just having fun, yet you’ve never seen somebody look so depressed about it.
There is a Bill Murray quality to
him in that aspect. This man needs more work and with that moustache; who could
deny him?

Sex With A Vampire Is Not Such A Good Idea
In Kevin Smith’s Mallrats, there is an
exchange of dialogue between Jason Lee
and Jeremey London, in which the two
discuss the logistical possibilities of Lois
Lane
having sex with Superman.
They both agree that it’s theoretically impossible for a woman to sleep with
any kind of a super powered being. Bella Swan obviously hasn’t seen this film
but, after sleeping with Edward, she probably wished she had. The sex scene is
an interesting but clumsy moment in Breaking Dawn Part 1. Edward is so strong
that he simply overpowers Bella and destroys the bed they were making love in.
By the next morning Bella is already pregnant, coming down with a heavy case of
morning sickness. Remember, girls. Always practice safe sex.

Book Adaptations = Money
Now we know that
Twilight isn’t the first book to be turned into a film. In fact it’s just
another novel that has been turned into a successful film. The truly
interesting thing about Twilight, though, is that it encouraged fans to go out
and read the book first. In an age where every health and safety spokesman
complains about kids watching too much TV and playing too many video games,
what is more refreshing than seeing youngsters engaged in books? Other
franchises like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games have also seen a
popular increase in teenagers reading their respective books. If films can
encourage their younger audiences to read the original material, then it’s win,
win for studios and publishers alike.

Better Directors Are Needed
Apart from David Slade, who helmed Eclipse, no
other Twilight directors have been greeted with much praise. Both Bill Condon
and Chris Weitz have been much
criticized for their handling of the story. Many thought they were poking fun
at the story from behind the camera and didn’t really believe in what they were
making. Whether this is true or not, you can’t help but feel that better
directors could have done so much more with this. Breaking Dawn Part 1 contains
some horrific body horror that would have been right up David Cronenberg’s street. What if wordy directors like Woody Allen or David Fincher could have gotten a hold of this? Would a more
philosophical or inquisitive factor have evolved? And considering how weird
Twilight actually is, just imagine what David
Lynch
could have done with this.

A Little Self-Control Is A Good Thing
Of all the things
Twilight has tried to preach, the concept of waiting seems to be the most
important. Every film contains aspects of abstinence and many characters
portray this. Edward is obviously the best-looking chap in school and could
have any girl but, until Bella, arrives he just hadn’t found the right one. In
comparison, Miss Swan is so scared of Edward’s strength and inner demons that
she often finds herself retreating. Jacob also displays components of sobriety.
He knows he could take advantage of a fragile Bella at times but he cares and
respects her, so that notion never crosses his mind. Twilight is trying
something really brave here. It is making a romantic film that has very little
sex in it. A lot of the characters are selfish and unlikable, but they have
heart and emotions. The three actors involved have been given strange and
demanding roles. They may not always fill their potential but you cannot knock
them for trying. Abstinence is a hard mindset to comprehend, let alone capture
on film. Twilight isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it sure is interesting.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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