11/16/2011 — The fourth novel in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn caused some controversy when it was first released. While some fans loved it a little too much others didn't care for it, and only hoped that the movie adaptation would improve on the shortcomings of the novel. But just as fans came around to loving Robert Pattinson as Edward, it seems like maybe fans have grown to love the novel that was initially off-putting mostly because it was so different from the rest of the series. After all, there are already more than 1,000 screenings of Breaking Dawn Part 1 sold out, so twi-hards can't be entirely apathetic.
While the other novels were focused on the love story and bits of action seemed to be thrown in, the fourth installment of the Twilight franchise had the traditional ending to a love story — a marriage — in the first couple of chapters. The love story was concluded so the focus of the novel shifted to a brutal pregnancy, a gory birth, a supernatural re-birth, and finally a showdown with individuals possessing X-men-like abilities. It turns out, though, that once Breaking Dawn is judged on its own merits rather than held up in comparison to its predecessors, it's just as good as the previous chapters in the Twilight Saga. Breaking Dawn works really well as a novel and we've compiled a list of reasons why. Will it work as well in a movie form? We have to wait until the 18th to find out, but it will be tricky.
1. The Wedding
One aspect of the book that worked well was that Meyer did not spend a huge chunk of the book at the wedding. There's a reason that fairy tales end with the words "and they lived happily ever after"; watching two people just being happy and in love isn't terribly riveting. Without tension a love story is pretty bland, and Bella's anxiety about marriage isn't enough to lend some necessary strife to the wedding scenes.
One concern with the upcoming movie is that 50% of the footage that's been in the Breaking Dawn Part 1
trailers so far focuses on Bella and Edward's wedding and 50% on other stuff — to us, that seems like a whole lot of wedding. While it's clear that the art directors and set designers seem to have done a wonderful job channeling Alice to make the wedding decadent and dramatic and beautiful, how interesting is a fictional wedding really? Everybody's already spent several hours this year watching one spectacular, flawlessly produced wedding ceremony this spring
and then watching an over-the-top, over-produced, overly publicized wedding in late summer
. How much time does anyone really want to spend watching another on-screen wedding at this point? While of course we can't wait to see the couple say "I do," and we can't wait to see Bella's dress, if half of the movie is spent on the wedding it could get really boring real quick.
2. The Wedding Night
While some fans were unhappy with the honeymoon scene in Breaking Dawn
because Meyer left it up to her readers' imaginations, others thought it was steamy and hardcore
— because the author left it up to their imaginations. It would have been inappropriate in a main-stream young adult novel for Meyer to go into depth about any inwardly, downwardly, pulsating
details, but she gave just enough to get fans' imaginations going. In a movie, the audience doesn't get much of a chance to let their imaginations wander, so with a PG-13 rating, chances are good that we'll mostly see a lot of headboard and not much else. At least we know we'll get to see some of the results of Robert Pattinson's pre-shooting workout regime — he wouldn't have gone to the trouble of working out if he was just going to be shown with all his clothes on, right?
We're also afraid that the honeymoon scenes after the wedding night, the ones where Edward is avoiding having his way with Bella because he's afraid he'll break her, will be cut, if not eliminated. Those scenes are sweet, but better than that, they're still filled with sexual tension. It's difficult to infuse a scene with sexual tension right after the characters have sex. Meyer managed it in the novel, but will director Bill Condon deliver the same suspense?
3. The Birth
In a way, what the wedding night scene had going for it, the birth scene did too, only in reverse. In a book, the reader can imagine the gore to the extent she wants. With a movie, though, the viewer will see whatever's on the screen (unless she covers her eyes). In the novel, we see Renesmee's birth mostly through Jacob's eyes, but since he's preoccupied performing CPR on Bella, he's pretty distracted. As a result the descriptions are fairly brief, and we can imagine as much or as little of the blood-filled, caesarean-by-vampire-fang birth as we would like. From what the cast said at the Breaking Dawn
panel at Comic-Con, it's clear that no punches have been pulled when it came to the birth and that fans should expect rivers of blood. For those of us who prefer little blood in our supernatural romantic love stories, this was not exactly good news.
4. Bella's Death/Rebirth
For all the problems Part 1
might have in movie form, Breaking Dawn Part 2
seems like it would be even trickier. The first two chapters after the baby has been born chronicle Bella's transition from a human to a vampire. She lies on a table feeling as though she's engulfed in flames and using all her willpower not to cry out. Then when the burning has stopped, she sits and stares at everyone and processes the world with her new senses. In Bella's story it's important to see the transition to a vampire, to understand what it felt like, what she went through. It seems unlikely that watching a girl lying on a table with perhaps the occasional flinch or twitch would make for a very exciting opening to a movie. It's unclear whether her transition to a bloodsucker will be at the beginning of Part 2
or the end of Part 1
, but it doesn't really matter. A nearly lifeless girl doesn't make for cinematic excitement.
One thing that seems certain to be lacking from the movie is Bella's new sensory experiences. Being in the head of a brand new vampire is probably the most fun part of the series for a reader. Meyer carefully describes the world as Bella sees it, and a reader can really put herself in Bella's shoes. But how does that translate to a movie screen? Also Bella's whole disposition changes when her physical form does, as does her view about herself. After hearing Bella's thoughts through so many books, it's refreshing to see how differently she views herself. It seems that the only way to describe all of this would be through voice-over and that would certainly get old quickly. What was one of the best parts of the whole series of books could easily be one of the most boring bits of the movie series. Yet without it, the movie would suffer. Bella's profound self-control during her metamorphosis also is important in her behavior as a newborn vampire. Her willpower as a newborn was forged in the fires of her transformation. Without knowing that, her actions as a new vampire, which are so different than those of the newborns in Eclipse
, don't make any sense. Meyer would be left looking simply forgetful and sloppy. Bella's actions are logical if you know about what was going on inside her head when she was changing.
5. The (Absence of) War
Battle scenes are tedious to read (see The Illiad
) but fun to watch in a movie (see Troy
). Honestly, it was a relief to not have to read a huge, detailed battle at the end of Breaking Dawn
, and it made perfect sense that the animosity between the Cullens and the Volturi would not result in all out war. Carlisle always wants to avoid violence and his friends and family follow suit; the Volturi are only interested in battles where they can make their opponents unable to fight before the conflict even begins. It makes sense for the confrontation to resolve itself peacefully based on what we already know about Meyer's characters. The journey that gets us to the peaceful resolution is great. The discussion about the different abilities of the Cullen clan's friends is fascinating and opens up a whole new dimension of the Twilight
universe. Will it be thrilling on the big screen? Probably not. What is great on the printed page isn't necessarily exciting at the Cineplex.
Granted, the ending isn't super exciting for the end of such a big franchise… but this might not be the end. While this is the end of the Bella and Edward chapter of the Twilight
universe, it isn't necessarily the end to the whole franchise. Stephenie Meyer has been decidedly coy about whether she'll return to some of her characters for future novels, so a huge battle with the Volturi may still be in the cards. We're just pretty sure Carlisle Cullen will not be heading the charge.