November 27, 2008

Twilight: from the page-turning written word to the (un)living cinematic flesh...


Two weeks before the premiere of the new teen vampire flick "Twilight" opened, I was scouring the local movie theatre website every day to see when tickets would go on sale.
Sure enough, one morning I barely contained my shriek of joy when I stumbled on pre-screening tickets for sale for Thursday, November 20th, which also happened to be the night of my birthday. I quickly whipped through the online process of ordering as many of these sought after tickets as I was permitted and sent a message out to a few friends to see if they would join me for the exciting event.  
The week before, on Halloween night, I had purchased my copy of the first book in the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer on the BC Ferries while traveling to the mainland to visit my sister. By Sunday afternoon, I was half way through the second novel, New Moon and by the next weekend, after a few very late nights of reading, I was finished Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. 
The series, geared for young adult readers (which I assume means older teens, not my version of young adults in which I would be included) was an easy read; the pages practically turned themselves as I poured over every scene of teenage romance mixed with supernatural angst. I honestly found it physically difficult to put any of the books down, reading way too far into the night, with my mind never really resting but racing with the images of Edward and the struggles he and pathetic Bella faced.
Yes, I said it, the character of Bella is very pathetic. As the reader, you are told the story mainly from Bella's perspective and many times I found myself frustrated with her and her total lack of decent common sense or communication skills. True, she is only 17 when we first meet her, but she is mature for her age and had to be the 'mom' and look out for her scatter-brained mother from a young age. Yet time after time Bella continuously misinterprets or miscommunicates with those around her to the point of ridiculousness where their lives are even put in danger. The very theme of miscommunications threads it's way through all four of the books beginning with the twist that Edward can hear everyone's thoughts except Bella's. So Edward is constantly trying to figure out what she is thinking, and looking back, if he had known, a lot of the mistakes or hurt would never have happened if Bella's mind was not blocked by some mysterious wall. Bella, too, needed not only to voice her concerns and opinions but she needed to simply talk to her new friend Edward instead of getting defensive or angry or assuming the worst.
Enough of a rant about Bella and her faults, of which there are many more...
The written form of Twilight would, in my mind, easily translate to the big screen not only because it is at it's most basic, a romance, but because even the gimmicks of being a 'vampire movie' were subtle and seemingly not too difficult to show with a few scenes of wire work, coloured contact lenses and tricky editing. 
So on the night of my birthday, after a delightful supper with a few friends, we headed off to the movie theatre only to be greeted by a super long line up (inside, thankfully) of girls and women from the ages of 10-50. A large number wore shirts either homemade or ordered sporting slogans such as "Team Edward" or "Bite Me". The youngest of the Twilight groupies were high-spirited, shrieking, excited preteens, or teens and the older cross-section, their mothers, who I found to be just as loud and obnoxious as their offspring. Once the line moved into the theatre and we snagged a row of seats, the waiting game began anew, this time with a whole new crowd of noisy, annoying and uber-hyper Twi-hards all around us.
Now maybe it was because I aged over a large milestone that evening, or maybe because I, too was so excited to see this movie become real, but I was one of the few who ardently 'shushed' the crow when gasps became shrieks and shrieks became scream as both previews then intro music then the actors appeared onscreen. I honestly can say I need to see the movie again, not just because I'd like to see Robert Pattinson, who plays the golden-eyed vampire Edward, stare at me from across the room, but because of many missed lines and nuances of the film due to the crazy cacophony of the crowd!! 

The 'vibe' of opening night or pre-screening night was, I'll admit, exciting and built up my expectations for the movie. However, for the same reasons, my view of the f ilm was very jaded and I even chuckled with slight disgust at a few of the more cheesy and totally over done moments.
Overall, I did enjoy the film. Of course, sadly they had to alter or add or remove some situations or conversations for the sake of time or money or length of the movie, but I always find it so rewarding to see characters you've come to know breathed into life and scenes you've only seen in your own mind acted out for you. 
I think most of the actors were splendid and fit well, with the exception of Bella. I did not like the choice of Kristen Stewart and I thought I would have to wait and see how she worked in the movie, but now that I've seen it, I stick to my initial feeling that she does not work. Yes, Bella is pathetic and dreary and, as we said in the 80s, " cruisin' for  a bruisin' ", Stewart has way too much attitude and a chip on her shoulder to play the part correctly. Bella's actor needed to be a little more sad and selfless. There are a few other actors out there that I think would have been a better choice.

Some of my favourite parts were brutally butchered, like the meadow scene and even Bella's travels with Alice and Jasper, where we get to know that duo a bit better. Yet some scenes surpassed my expectations, such as the baseball game and the embellished fight scene at the end.
The books are marketed and geared towards teens so why should I be surprised that this film was full of noisy teens? The marketing for the movie was a little off, though. Even my own brother thought the movie was more horror than teen romance just from the previews alone.  But the media did a great job of immortalizing the main actors even before the film was released, since when has that happened lately? I can see why Robert Pattinson is so troubled by the hordes of child and teen girls mobbing him anytime he goes anywhere. Who wouldn't be weirded out by that?
There is so much more I could say, about either the books or the movie, but anytime anyone wants to chat about them, just ask and I will be happy to discuss.
My final advice concerning this series and movie, is: read the books - you will enjoy them, the writing is great! and go see the movie, preferably on a week night and with an open mind that it does not accurately depict the book but it does a good job of making the world of Twilight come to life...plus the real life version of Edward Cullen is nice to look at!!

5 comments:

Tricia said...

I loved this movie. At first, I think I was thrown a bit by the screaming teens, but later when I relived some of the scenes in my head, I realized I really loved it! I liked the character Bella, but I haven't read the books yet so I didn't have her "set" in my mind before I saw the movie. Loved it!

Ben&zSarah said...

Kirsten I just finished reading Twilight in 24 hrs after locking myself in my room for most of the day. I totally agree- I could not put this book down. I even brought it into the bathroom with me to read while I was blow drying my hair!
I am nervous about the movie because the book was so enjoyable...
-Sarah

Crystal Fonk said...

I loved the book, the movie was pretty amazing too, i enjoyed comparing scenes but i did have to hold my self back a few times from wishing things were done different. I think we should form our on Twilight club like the groups in the theatre....shotty making t-shirts.....LOL...not.

shantala said...

Well... as I have not read the books it was a little hard to get the full story from the movie. It seemed that the movie was more of an overview. I would definately like to see it again... minus the twinks. After the movie I kept on remembering scenes that I liked. I will probably read the books... but not until the hype dies down a bit.

Louise said...

Definitely need to read the books first! I have to admit that I had not heard of these books or the movie until all of you were chatting about it on facebook! I then stumbled across the first book at Wal-Mart for $10 and thought - 'hmm, guess I will see what this rage is all about'... so I read it & will probably carry on with the next three at somepoint! I enjoyed your commentary :)

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