I don’t normally spend so much time talking about one film. But it’s amazing how much of a pop culture phenomena the movie Twilight has emerged to become. As I reported in an earlier blog, the film opened at over 70 million, and teenage girls everywhere are falling in love with the “perfect” mate they find in the lead character Edward.
Polarized responses have been flooding in. “It’s not so bad.” “It’s ridiculous! Why would you even fathom watching it with your kids!” “It’s fantastic!”
In light of all the buzz, I wanted to post two fantastic responses I read recently. The first, a personal word from the blog of Christianity Today’s movie guru Jeff Overstreet. I think he really nailed the problem I have with the whole Twilight Saga. Here’s just a snippet:
The love story makes the relationship between Jack and Rose in Titanic seem like a mature, adult relationship. At least those characters had dialogue, when they weren’t just shouting “Jack!” “Rose!” “Jack!” “Rose!” “JACK!!” “ROSE!!”
In this film, there’s not much shouting. They just stare at one another with deeply constipated expressions. Somebody could have a lot of fun on YouTube with the long sequences of Edward and Bella gazing at one another, simply by overlaying the sounds of noisy, unpleasant bodily functions…
The idea of romantic conversation or intriguing dialogue in Twilight is deeply insufficient as well. A single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or even Moonlight has better dialogue and stronger characters. Heck, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog is more substantially romantic than this.
Sure, the basic “Beauty and the Beast” elements are at work here. They will always work. I’m not going to deny that the Power of Myth is at work in this story. What disappoints me is how poorly it is developed, how many opportunities for thoughtful storytelling are bypassed for the sake of including long sequences that amount to “How far can we go without actually fornicating?” If you want a good vampire story involving a fascinating, monstrous vampire and an engaging heroine, check out Robin McKinley’s book Sunshine. Now THAT would make an interesting movie!
But don’t tell me that this is a love story. This is a lust story. You have to get to know someone to really be “in love” with them. Otherwise, it’s just hormones. Good luck with everything after.
Then I love this email from one mom to another- a friend (one of the moms) forwarded it to me. This really gives you a peek into the mind of teenage girls in regards to this film.
I don’t think I can explain my full opinion about Twilight without writing a whole dissertation. In a sentence, I think the books/movie are very mixed in terms of being good or bad. It is chaste in the sense that the characters don’t go far, but I’ll tell you also that it is VERY sensual and intense even. I knew (my daughter) was going to see it, probably this weekend, and I took the opportunity to see it with her. We talked about it. I liked the movie, but I like sappy tales of romance. (My daughter) is ga-ga over Edward, the lead role. It’s not hard to see why.
I can’t say I’d recommend it, but if my child were interested in it, I’d definitely see it. It’s not an Oscar worthy movie or anything. I can completely see why teen girls have gone crazy over it. Edward is perfect. Plain and simple. He denies himself for the girl, Bella. He is so taken with her that he watches her sleep. He is strong enough to save her from a car falling on her and other vampires trying to kill her. He sacrifices himself for her, even to the point of death if necessary. I could go on.
(My daughter) said, “I want an Edward.” I said, “Every woman wants an Edward. He’s perfect. I want an Edward. But, he doesn’t exist. Not in human form. Actually, Jesus is Edward. Jesus is the only one who can fulfill every longing, every need, etc.” She listened, but then she said, “Mom, can you just let me enjoy my teenaged moment, here?” I loved that. She was so real, so caught up in the romance. I’m not sure that’s good, but I’m not sure it’s all bad, either. We had such a great conversation about what she is looking for in a boyfriend/husband/mate. It was SO good in terms of what she was willing to talk about BECAUSE the movie opened that part of her up. I’m so glad it was ME who was there to answer questions and talk instead of her friends. Now, of course, she’ll be able to obsess over it all with her friends, but she’d have done that anyway.
I could go on and on. I loved the movie. The books are even better. However, it’s definitely not something I’d just openly recommend. Very mixed. Certainly, many teens and people would find it sappy and stupid and worse. It is. But, it certainly taps into the longing and romance and idealized perfection we, and teen girls, seek. Good stuff for discussion.
That is my very brief (believe it or not) take on the whole Twilight phenomenon.
I thought both of these provided some great insight.
You can read the barrage of comments on my original blog on the subject here.