Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Twilight Saga - New Moon: Some Ranting...

© Summit Entertainment 2009

This is about the Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) which I saw, because I sort of liked the first film. Oh ho, what a mistake!

Before ranting though, I will defend why I liked Twilight (2008): It spent a long time creating the right grey, green, purple, wet, kind of ’bruised’ atmosphere, for the heroine, Bella Swan to fall in love in. There is breathless awe in the first hint that Edward Cullen, Vampire Lover, is something special, as he looks into her eyes while stopping a crashing van (ah, already before the teeth come out, death, destruction and love are one). Edward was enough of the shining spectacle that he was supposed to be (almost warranting the chest sparkles...). My favourite scene of him is in the classroom, where he appears to have the white wings of an angel, from a stuffed owl behind him. I also got why Bella Swan was an admirable girl - she would never be featured in one of those shopping/ makeover montages, that seem to forever be attempting to be the ‘empowering’ highlight and turning point of girl driven films. Bella isn’t dressed like Miley Cyrus or most other present day teen icons – in fact I can’t even remember a noticeable wardrobe change throughout the film (except for the prom dress worn with the convenient debasement of a leg cast). To boot, her love for Edward-the-freak comes off as strong and brave, rather than being any kind of damsel-in-distress dependability. So yes, Twilight, I liked it as an adult, I would have freaked as a teenager...

New Moon! Starts with a melodramatic full moon being eclipsed by darkness. OK, this is DARK material. Even though I haven’t read the book, I had, by now, seen a pivotal event many times in the blasted trailer: Bella is left by Edward in order to protect her from the ways of the vampire...
The dreariness of the film has already begun to blur my memory, but I do remember that it starts out by making some clear references to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, as a hint of what’s to come. Right. So I prepare myself for pain and beauty and extreme gravity and danger. Cough. I’m reeeaaady... Nothing happens. Several ’haunting’ emo records later, after having lost most of my sympathy for both Edward’s powers of reasoning as well as Bella’s undying love, I’m face to face with a boy man child in the rain flexing some very big muscles! ... I can at this point conclude that any subtlety, that may have been in the first film, has been trampled by sex; any poignancy about star-crossed lovers numbed with stupidity.
Edward has left to protect Bella, yet appears as a vision, when she’s in danger, thus making the girl seek danger (and of course there’s still loads of leftover supernatural perils about), thus making Edward’s reasoning downright dim-witted. Bella keeps brooding about Edward despite of his ass-hole-like behaviour and in doing so neglects her, caring and patient, friends and family completely. She only livens up again when another man enters the picture, who might love/fancy her (muscle boy man child). And this time Bella is in great need of being saved at EVERY turn of the plot – in fact it’s her way of getting attention from the boys (incidentally, I suddenly picture a lady in a corset doing a faux faint…).

At this point I start to feel that all of the allegations made to the series that Bella is an antifeminist heroine, are warranted (an article on this here). I also find truth in Robert Pattinson, a.k.a. Edward Cullen, saying that his character is little else than an empty sex object (for an excellent article on this film’s objectification of its male characters, see ‘The Edward Cullen Underpants Conundrum’).
So wow, this film manages BOTH to show an example to young girls of a woman with no other goal in life, than for men to fancy her AND make men into stereotypes of female desire. This is double bad!

At the end climax of the film Bella decides to leave her muscle boy man child, who also smells of wet dog, to save Edward. Edward is going to kill himself, because he thinks Bella is dead (ah yes, I see, Romeo and Juliet…). Edward’s stepsister, Alice, who is psychic, comes to Bella first to tell her this. Edward plans to commit suicide, by disobeying vampire rules and being punished for it (what’s wrong with a wooden steak through the heart, I ask?). Bella and Alice rush to Italy, and Bella goes ahead alone since “Edward might read Alice’s mind and hurry the suicide” (surely then he would learn quicker that Bella isn’t dead?). Bella rushes through the crowd and saves the sparkling martyr, and after some chat and the return of the vampires to Bella’s hometown, Edward asks Bella to marry him. Cue HUGE sigh and heavy breathing. THE END.
This finale brings to mind any Jane Austen adaptation where proposal of marriage is the equivalent of Salvation. In New Moon’s modern day setting apparently the supernatural nicely brings back the boundaries, otherwise set by family and society, in the Twilight and New Moon inspirations: Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet. So that’s one thing. But why is marriage back as THE ANSWER for a teenage girl? Yikes! I wash my hands of this filth!

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