Twilight: Comparing the movie to the book
Friday, November 28, 2008, 12:26 PM
This is an in-depth analysis of sorts where I compare the book to some of my favorite movie scenes. This post is rife with spoilers, and it's long.
The book's draw: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATION
One of the reasons why I love the book so much is due to all of the talking Edward and Bella do. That's how they get to know each other, that's how they fall in love (although the story goes one more step in that there is a fantasy-like physiological need Bella has for Edward).
All of Stephenie Meyer's books are full of story and character context, but how do you show this in a movie so it makes sense to non-readers? I don't know, but non-reader moviegoers are going to have one hell of time understanding how and why Bella and Edward fall in love. Maybe that will make them want to read the book, though.
The movie's draw: THE ACTORS, THE MUSIC, THE KISS SCENE
Nothing trumps the power of music and the movie relied heavily on that, and succeeded (but I still feel cheated because the music almost overpowered the relationship). Also, nothing much tops the sounds of a kiss morphing into uncontrollable passion. Holy Mary and crow, the movie is worth five times the price for this belly-knot-forming scene alone.
Again, there be spoilers ahead. Read on at your own risk.
I saw Twilight on Monday, November 24, at the early showing of 11:35. I deliberately chose this day and time because I knew most of the fan base was in school. It was a good choice, too. When I arrived ten minutes before show time, there were only two guys in the theater. It was all I could do not to break out laughing.
When the movie started, my mouth was already dry from hanging open and I was sweating. How do I explain? It's the Edward Cullen Effect--I am enamored by the character Stephenie Meyer created. I love the way Edward loves Bella. And now I was going to get to see physical embodiment of that obsessive kind of love in action. That's why I could barely sit still and my armpits were damp.
PHOENIX TO FORKS
The first thing I heard was Bella's voice--her prologue/narrative about her upcoming death. I remember when I read the prologue in the book, I just skimmed over it. I've never really cared for dark, angst-filled prologues before the story even begins. I only read them after the story ends, after I've made my emotional connection with the characters.
I do think the prologue worked for the movie, though. It was a visual way to recreate Bella's first person point of view from the novel. It was good to get a glimpse of what she's giving up--in essence, seeing the light (Phoenix) to better appreciate the dark (Forks). And when the dark trees appeared against a gray sky (while The Black Ghost's song, Full Moon, played) I was pulled into the scene right by my heartstrings. There was a little potted cactus in Bella's hand and I don't think she let go of it until she reached Forks and Charlie showed her the bedroom.
Charlie's house was dark and paneled. It's Forks, a tiny city in the middle of the woods where it's always dark and raining, and Charlie is single with little sense of decoration. He and Bella might as well inhabit different planets. The moment smacked of painful nostalgia and my heart ached for the awkwardness Bella and her dad felt.
RECONNECTING WITH CHARLIE
One of the things I really enjoyed in the movie is Bella's dad, Charlie. Kudos to Billy Burke for making Charlie Charlie. He is a much stronger and more likable character in the movie. Book Charlie read like a plot convenience for me--more like Bella's roommate than a parental figure. For me, the movie effortlessly dispelled the feeling of emotional distance I felt about Charlie in the book. Maybe it was because Billy Burke gave Charlie a voice, and that I always heard a kind of wry laugh in his tone: "I put a can of pepper spray in your purse."
I liked the scene where Jessica explains about the Cullens. That is, other than having all of the siblings enter the cafeteria, walk way out of their way just to pass the table Bella's sitting at, and then veer back over to where they sit.
My first glimpse of Edward made my heart lurch. (Rob Pattinson may be the anti-thesis of Edward Cullen, but in the movie, he is Edward.) I thought it was a nice touch to have Bella look over her shoulder, for her to have to go to that effort, in order to see the Cullens. Book Bella would never have done it, but Kristen Stewart has decided to play a tougher Bella. I like it, but only because she didn't go over the top with it. It's important that Bella be as woefully human as she can. She is the 17-year-old chicken and Edward is the 108-year-old fox, okay?
I don't like the weaker portrayal of Edward, although from what I understand, Pattinson decided to go with the Edward's more awkward than Book Bella is portrayal due to Stewart's stronger portrayal. But since Rob had Edward finally master his awkwardness, I'll forgive him. (Vulnerability is not the same thing as awkwardness.)
The scene ends with Edward's stare of frustration. He sure didn't look happy. Lord, but he's pretty. My knees would knock together uncontrollably if any guy ever stared at me that way.
The biology scene is the story's first intro of complication, so I'm going to dissect the movie version's accordingly. The short of it is that this is Bella's first indication that Edward isn't like other boys, and the movie almost made it seem like a mockery to me.
There was a big floor fan aimed at the class like it's sunny and eighty degrees outside. Never mind that we're in rainy Forks, Washington, and that the kids are wearing sweaters and winter coats. In the book, no fan is mentioned (in the companion book, Edward's as-yet unpublished account of Twilight called Midnight Sun, a heat vent is mentioned). All Bella sees is that Edward suddenly, inexplicably, goes stiff in his seat.
Nothing would have been lost for me if I'd seen that same action without the fan blowing. In fact, I don't think non-story readers would have minded, either, because it would have added a note of suspense. And then no one would have had to swallow the idea of a fan in cold weather. This is definitely an area where they should have trusted the intelligence of viewers (not to mention that most of the viewers have already read the book and would immediately know why Edward goes stiff).
They got Edward's pain and awkwardness at his first whiff right, but what about Bella's fear? I didn't see her fearing him, I saw her getting angry at his frankly, ridiculous, reaction. I was thinking wait, wait, wait, Edward is not supposed to seem human-like. It's no wonder Bella didn't look scared. The end of the scene was better, even though Edward's rude staring squicked me out. Then again, that's the point. Still, the book handled this scene much, much better.
After Edward jumps out of his seat just before the end-of-the-class bell rings, that would have been a perfect moment for some of Bella's story narrative. Instead of the awful, hokey music that was playing in the background, why not have Bella wonder what was wrong with him? After all, it would be the same thing I was wondering. Instant character connection.
That said, I loved how she turned and ran, angry and almost in tears, from the office after Edward's failed attempt to get his class switched. I almost wanted to cry myself. I felt so confused and helpless on her behalf then, because it's exactly what I would have been feeling.
A WEEK IN THE LIFE
There are a few scenes of Bella coming to school and noticing Edward is gone. She and the rest of the Cullens trade looks--Bella's eyes are full of questions and they looked almost resentful. I really liked the way this transition period was handled. Loved the song that played during the scenes: Eyes On Fire by Blue Foundation.
Edward Cullen didn't come back to school. I looked for him every day at lunch. I couldn't concentrate on anyone or anything before making sure if he was here or not. Mostly I tried not to think about him, but I couldn't help worrying that I was the one responsible for keeping him out of school, crazy as that seemed.And here I'll mention Bella's classmates. I liked Michael Welch's Mike, all goofy and awkward. The way he asked Bella to the prom made me smile in sympathy. How could Mike know that Edward was behind him giving Bella the sexy eyes, making it impossible for her to concentrate? (Naughty boy.)
I also really liked Justin Chon's Eric. Yo-yo, this is the type of guy Kristen Stewart would date in real life. Eric was fun, well spoken, intelligent and confident. Hey, I'd date him, too. I think Jessica was perfect. Perfect for Mike. It was so obvious she had a thing for Mike, that oblivious numbskull.
I'M EDWARD CULLIN
During round two in biology, I finally learned what the gold thing was that Bella kept setting on her truck in movie clips. A golden onion! It was Mr. Molina's award to the pair of kids who could identify the phases of onion root cell mitosis the quickest. (Yes, I had to look this up in the book.)
I loved Mr. Molina--he seemed fun, laid back and genuinely interested in his class of kids. I would have loved having him as my biology teacher. The movie really did a great job at bringing the fringe book characters to life, at giving them more personality. Mr. Molina (aka Mr. Banner in the book) was one such character.
When Bella notices that Edward is sitting at their table, she charges forward meaningfully, even though Edward is giving her a wary look of resignation. I grinned at Edward's big inhalation. This is another departure from the book, but I think it's a good one. What reads well doesn't always film well. So while Book Bella made up her mind not to even look at him in this scene (until he started talking, that is), Movie Bella is ready to give him what-for. Only she loses her nerve once she sits down, which was well done. It was like a melding of the two Bellas.
Edward is soft-spoken and polite when he finally introduces himself. Bella was the awkward one when she stumbles over asking but-not-quite-asking about his week-long absence. She's so shocked by his behavior (and by his pretty face) that she doesn't seem notice his discomfort. I think it has to do with that inexplicable pull, that attraction, she feels for him. I enjoyed this scene, I thought it was true to the book characters and it was nice to hear the two of them interact. Edward, by the way, has a gorgeous smile, but I could tell Rob Pattinson doesn't wear lipstick often. Which is probably a good thing.
I got a kick out of Edward asking if she was enjoying the rain. Too funny. Endearingly awkward. And I felt his pain, even though he laughed it off, at her answer that she doesn't really like cold, wet things. He's cold all over and Forks is the "wettest place in the continental U.S." and the best possible place for a vampire to live. How much more ironic can it get? It's not as ironic or funny as the blood typing scene in the book when Bella gets green over the smell of blood, but it'll do. I could feel the fascination they both felt for each other and I loved the subtle sense of humor.
Bella looked entranced during the entire scene. She made it obvious by all the staring and her wide-open mouth that she is crazy attracted to him. Ever notice how girls hold their mouths when they are attracted to a guy? It's as if they are inviting a kiss. Well, that's what I saw Bella do.
I didn't like how it ended with Edward being taken unaware by Bella's ability to tell the difference between the color of black and brown. He fed her some line about the color being due to fluorescence and then with a frown that communicated he knew he was being stupid, turned and walked stiffly away. At first, I thought he was referring to the overhead lights at the school.
Then I looked up the word fluorescence and had one of those ah-hah moments. I believe he's thinking about how to explain the idea behind what he means (while simultaneously taking a metaphorical crap that she's noticed something no other human has) and realizes he's not going to be able to do this without sounding like an over-informed geek.
But I still didn't like the gauche way he walked off. Book Edward never did this and I cringed seeing Movie Edward do it.
FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET
This next scene has been aired so often that I'm almost inured to it, so I'll probably just gloss over it. Bella notices Edward is standing by his car across the parking lot, just standing there staring at her. It's right after his delivery about fluorescence and changing eye color, and she's understandably still confused over his behavior. And still fascinated. And maybe a little uneasy. Good stuff, huh?
Still, when Edward stops the careening van from smashing into Bella and their eyes meet afterward, the tension is this-thick. His eyes are full of shock and fear (he's risked everything to save her) and it's clear he's just acted without thinking. Bella's eyes are also full of shock, and now she's even more fascinated by him. It was crazy exciting to see.
When Bella confronted Edward in the hospital, I think she was more Kristen Stewart than Bella. Again, I was looking for Bella's fear and anger (which always makes her cry), and saw more of an accusation instead. What was with all of the eye blinking? And why did they have to end the scene on such a sour note?
"I hope you enjoy disappointment," Edward says and walks away.
In the book, the scene ended with both Edward and Bella feeling confused, which was great because it showed his frustration and vulnerability.
JACOB AND LA PUSH
In the book, Jacob was a negligent secondary character for me. He seemed sweet, but couldn't compare to the maelstrom of feelings Edward caused. I couldn't help resenting any time spent away from Edward. I still skim past the La Push scene, but this is one of the scenes the movie did very well. I like Movie Jacob much more than Book Jacob. He's warm and genuine and witty, even moreso than Movie Edward. (Book Edward was funnier.) I found Jacob easy to relate to and I'm looking forward to him in New Moon.
This scene came with one of the flashbacks of Jacob's ancestors. It didn't work for me. In fact, I didn't like any of the flashback scenes. They seemed gratuitous and hokey. It didn't look like enough effort was put into the meaning behind them, but maybe that's because the book did better with these kind of glimpses at background. I shudder when I think what they could do with Jacob's ancestor's story that is told in Eclipse...
DREAMING OF EDWARD
The dream--almost a nightmare--happens after Bella has her talk with Jacob at La Push Beach. She wakes up with a gasp and thinks she sees Edward standing at the foot of her bed. I got goosebumps all over my skin. It scared me. Squicked me out, too. She turns her bedside lamp on and when she looks again, there's no one there.
It's exciting movie-wise, but Book Edward never would have allowed such a thing to happen--for her to find him there--to scare her like that. I did like the danger of the moment, though.
I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE
This was the movie's equivalent of the book's car ride after Edward saves Bella in Port Angeles, and the meadow scene when he demonstrates his super vampire powers and briefly scares the crap out of her. The movie took two powerfully crucial key scenes and tried to squash it into one. Those two book scenes accomplished the following for me:
It opens with Bella looking for Edward in the school's parking lot. She has an intense look of concentration on her face. Suddenly Edward appears. They lock eyes and for some reason, he looks wary. I can't remember for sure, but I think this scene happens after he's rescued her in Port Angeles and she's read the book on vampire legends she found there. If I'm right, at this point she knows he can read minds and that he feels protective of her, so why did I see anger and accusation on her face? Anyway, she strides meaningfully over to him, passes him and starts walking into the forest behind the school. He looks after her for a moment, his face one of resignation, then follows after.
Once I understood what was happening, my first thoughts were: Why would she do this at school? and Why, if she knows he's a vampire, would she put herself in such a vulnerable position? Both Book Bella and Movie Bella know at this point that he's not going to hurt her (he's saved her from imminent danger twice), so why would she want to put him on the defensive like this? Book Bella was a lot more gentle and considerate with Book Edward. She didn't goad him into revealing what he was--he had to pull it out of her.
Not only do the gradual scenes of revelation work better in the book, but they also make more sense. Edward's explanation is more focused, Bella's fear and acceptance of what she feels is easier to follow, and there aren't ten different camera angles trying to distract me.
Movie-wise, I loved how Bella kept doggedly following after Edward's retreats. While he's sure what he's saying is going to repulse her, she's determined to make him understand that nothing he says (or has done) is going to change the way she feels. So he keeps throwing out what he thinks are deterrents to get her to back off: Her blood is like heroine to him, he wanted to kill her, he still does.
Yeah, the diamond sparkling effect didn't dazzle me, but it was easy to overlook because the look on Edward's face when he reveals himself in the sunlight is one of heartbreaking agony. It brought a lump to my throat. Both Book and Movie Edward believe he is a monster. It's one of his most endearing and frustrating qualities.
Also noteworthy is when he asks what she's thinking after he's spilled it all, and she tells him for the first time that she's scared. It's what he's wanted her to feel all along because if she's scared of him, she'll stay away from him. Now that he thinks she's finally scared, he says he's glad...but his face says the opposite.
Bella's only scared of losing him, though, and it completely disarms him. In the movie, this is where one of the story's most noteworthy lines is said: So the lion falls in love with the lamb. It was a beautifully done moment.
But they never said I love you to each other. Their actions conveyed a sense of love...but Bella never said the words, and neither did Edward. Why? An oversight, I'm sure, but still. This is first and foremost a love story. See the video below, which has excerpts of the deleted meadow and kissing scenes.
KISS AND TELL
Like I said at the beginning of this post, the kiss scene justifies the movie's existence ten times over. What can I say but ew-lah-lah and give me a lot more of the same in the next movie?
My favorite scene opens cutely enough with Bella talking boys to her mom on the phone. Bella hears something, whips around and lo! there's Edward. I forget if this scene takes place after the forest scene--the I know what you are scene--but it still seemed out of character for Edward. Book Edward did his sneaking into Bella's room only after she was asleep, and then only to make sure she was safe (you'd have to read Midnight Sun to understand this, though). Sure, an unpardonable part of him snuck into her room due to his own physiological need for Bella, but the way the movie glossed over this part of his behavior was also unpardonable.
Book Bella was horrified and embarrassed when she discovered Edward's nightly activity. Book Edward was unrepentant because he saw his actions as protective, not as privacy invasion or as some kind of sexual premeditation. Book Edward is only sorry about his actions when he sees how it's upset Bella.
I think Bella being unaware of his sneaking until he mentions it almost in an offhand way is a very telling difference of character--his as a vampire, hers as a human. As a vampire, he's lost his humanity. Her reaction helps him to understand what he's lost. It's part of his character's arc, his growth, part of rediscovering his lost humanity. So I was more than a little sorry when the movie didn't address this, especially since they showed the scene of is Edward there or not after Bella's bad dream.
So Movie Edward tells Bella he's been sneaking into her room for months and she smiles. Um, no. Just no. In real life, she'd at least have frowned. (Imagine my forehead against my knees.)
OKAY, NOW THE KISS
On the heels of Bella's unexpectedly blase reaction to Edward's nightly visits, he says, "I just want to try one thing."
In the book, this is the kiss intro, so my heart immediately started banging in my chest. At the same time, though, I'm wondering: what the? where did THAT come from? what's happening here? oh, crap! and I am having a brain fart during one of my most anticipated scenes in the movie.
That's when Edward inches closer to Bella and all my thoughts disintegrated.
"Just stay very still," he tells her and moves closer.
"Don't move," he cautions again.
Like Eskimos touching noses, they inch towards each other ever so slowly until their foreheads touch. It's terrifying-sweet because I know Edward is a vampire who'd love to drain Bella dry, but I know he loves her enough to try the kiss, to dare ignore the dark side of his nature. He's as much an idiot as Bella is (thank God).
I'm barely breathing at this point. I could pass out like Bella did in the book.
When they kissed and broke apart and I could hear Bella's uneven breathing, I felt the sweat on the back of my neck. I knew, from seeing the movie clips of the kiss scene, that Bella was in her underwear and doesn't stay still at all. No, she gets on her knees and goes after him. What I didn't expect was Edward's reaction. He starts breathing fast and hard and in a frenzy of passion and need, pushes Bella back on the bed and starts kissing her again.
My insides were flaming now. I almost couldn't believe Edward had lost control that way--Book Bella is the one who loses control, not Edward. But hey, this is definitely one of the areas where the movie trumps the book's kiss scene.
I forgot where I was and shouted rewind! in the utter silence of the theater. There weren't a lot of people watching the movie, but there was a lot of laughter after that. Oh, was I embarrassed, but it was funny in a sad way. I wish whoever was manning the film would have listened, though, because I did want to see that scene again.
Side note 1: Just remembering this scene has me miss-typing because my fingerpads are sweating.Edward doesn't give in to his passion for long, though. It's just seconds after he's pushed her to the bed that he shouts, "Stop!" and flies backward until he hits the bedroom wall. "I can't ever lose control with you," he tells her.
Man, that's a bummer.
Charlie, meanwhile, must be able to sleep through a hurricane.
I loved how the scene ended with the softer tones of Carter Burwell's song, Bella's Lullaby. The short period of Bella and Edward talking to the song (couldn't hear what they were saying) passed way too quickly. I don't even think it lasted sixty seconds, and that's not even the length of a song. For all intents and purposes, this was the first night Bella was aware that Edward was with her. It's a pivotal scene in the book, it's when Bella and Edward discuss intimacy and the dangers that could bring, and I think it should have been an important scene in the movie.
I wanted a lot more of these I'm falling in love with you scenes.
That said, I love how torn Edward looked when Bella rolls over onto his chest and snuggles deeper into sleep. It was like he didn't feel he could safely touch her, or that he wasn't sure if he should. This was the kind of vulnerability I wanted to see more of.
The movie's baseball scene is almost enough to make a baseball watcher out of me. I can describe it in two words. Kick ass. Until I heard Muse's Supermassive Black Hole while the scene of baseball raged, I'd wondered why Stephenie Meyer liked this band so much. What was the pull? Oh. Oh. They're in the kick butt business.
I will never again be able to listen to this song without thinking of the baseball scene.
So okay, I'm not a baseball fan and I didn't understand why vampires would want to play baseball. The book's baseball scene isn't one of my favorites, but the movie set me on my head but good in this respect. It was so much fun to see "vampires" cut loose and show their superpowers, I wouldn't have minded if the scene had been twice as long. It's my second favorite movie scene because it revealed their personalities. Sexy-hawt, fun, badass, and all of it played out to Supermassive Black Hole. No way to go wrong.
Until the nomads showed up, that is.
Right after Alice calls a halt to the game, I could tell by the look on Edward's face that he was reading Alice's image in his mind. It was a total look of absorption and dread. Spot on.
I didn't like the abrupt way he spoke to Bella, though. "Get your hair down," he almost barked.
And later, I didn't like the way Bella yelled at him when he was buckling her in the car. "Okay, I've got it, I've got it!"
I didn't expect (or like) to hear either of them lose their cool with the other the way they did. Nigglers, though.
The music that announced James and company (more of Carter Burwell's movie score) was the perfect blend of rough and gritty eeriness. By the time James, Laurent and Victoria stopped in front of the Cullens, my blood was like ice. The book described them as animalistic and the movie certainly showed it by the way they stood. James always seemed to stand with his legs braced apart. The look in his eyes never changed from the kind of detached amusement I imagine a cat feels for a mouse or a bird within its grasp. Edward's face was this-side of sexy hostile even before the wind kicked up and gave James his first real whiff of Bella.
Like I did in the book, I immediately liked Laurent. He was well-spoken and polite, not to mention he looked sexay, so what's not to like? Victoria seemed reserved, but keg-like, as if it wouldn't have taken much to set her off. It didn't look like she'd mind blowing up, either. I think she and Rosalie must share more than one trait.
In the book, a vampire's crouch is a warning signal that he's about to pounce. It works well in the book. It didn't work in the movie. Let me say that again.
It did NOT work.
The crouching looked beyond ridiculous, and ruined a crucial moment for me of everyone facing off against each other. The soft, deep growl I heard from Edward when he confronted the men who wanted to attack Bella in Port Angeles went a lot further to create fear than the crouch ever could.
Please, no more crouching, Catherine Hardwicke. Just have 'em growl and do the if looks could kill stare.
I HAVE TO LET YOU GO?
There's a moment in the garage after Alice walks Bella away from Edward that took my breath away. Edward's expression of torment that teeters on the edge of breaking into tears might seem unfounded to non-readers, but Pattinson portrayed this moment spot on. He does anguish much better than anger. Can't complain about that.
SUCKING OUT THE VENOM
In another departure from the book, the movie portrays Edward being unaware, possibly unable, to stop taking Bella's blood until Carlisle tells him that he's killing her (three times, I think).
In the book, Edward seemed to suffer only a few moments of doubt that he could stop. I don't know for sure because Twilight is told in Bella's first person narrative and she was out of her mind with pain at the time, but I like the movie version because it did show Edward's fear. Movie Edward was foot-dragging hesitant to approach when he realized Bella was bleeding. And when Carlisle tells him that he'll have to suck the venom out of her blood to keep her from changing into a vampire, I watched Movie Edward's agony of doubt give way to a steely determination to help her when he finally accepts his choices.
In this phase of the movie (and book), Edward's mind is set on keeping Bella human. That means he's going to have to make the sacrifice. It made the danger of blood sucking frenzy all the more real. For me, this scene demonstrated the danger, the lure of her blood for him, and the love he feels for her, better than any other scene in the movie.
When the montage of scenes started playing (to the background of Rob Pattinson singing Let Me Sign, video above), I mistakenly thought these were images Edward was seeing in his mind. Once I remembered whose point of view the story belongs to, I realized the images came from Bella. Then again, I can't blame myself too much because if these were Bella's memories, how was it that she saw the deer being caught? How did she see herself lying with her eyes closed in Edward's arms? Of her face?
So I was confused by the montage imagery, but have since made up my mind that Bella and Edward were each having their own private video show while life and death is being fought over her body. It was powerfully and beautifully done. I love, love, loved the song (which is not on the soundtrack and it's a real shame), and I loved Bella's narration while the song is still playing.
Death is peaceful. Easy.She thinks she's dying (in the book, she believes her death is a sacrifice for her mom's sake, or Edward's sake, or anyone else James might have killed, and she wouldn't have done anything differently), but Edward, for all intents and purposes at this time and despite his best efforts not to hurt her, is killing her.
And it's going to kill him.
This is the moment in the movie where I got choked up. It's a good thing the scene wasn't any longer, or they'd have found a blubbering mess in the aisle. The movie handled this scene so powerfully well that I forgive them the montage confusion.
YOU'VE GOTTA GO TO JACKSONVILLE
Too bad they ruined it with randomistic dialogue that seemed to come from nowhere.
"I'm alive because of you," Bella says out of the blue. There's nothing to precipitate it, not even the look on Edward's face. As far as I could tell, he was still in the calming/informing phase. In the book, there was a gradual, emotional build-up before she said those words, and before he said, "The worst part of it was, I thought I wasn't going to be able to stop."
These were such important lines and I felt that the movie rushed them. The book handled this scene much better. Stephenie Meyer really knows how to write loving characters, and like I said at the beginning of this review, the books are full of character context that is missing in the movie.
Easier to understand and follow was the moment after Edward told Bella she should go to Jacksonville (and live with her mom, where he "couldn't hurt her anymore"). Bella's reaction--her choking, stuttering words and panic, not to mention her tear-filled eyes, had me in a panic right there with her.
Edward's fears and doubts keep him from realizing that she loves him in the same irrational, illogical and all-consuming way he does her. It's heart wrenching, and it's a look written in every line of his face when he leans forward to kiss her forehead. I was ready to bawl all over again.
Because of the heavy emotions I'd been feeling and because I knew the movie was coming to an end, I was briefly saved by Bella in her leg brace clumping down the wooden stairs. I was saved by Charlie, his can of pepper spray and his welcome sense of humor. I guess you could say I was laughing through tears (I'm a sap). This was another scene well served by the movie. The lights, the song, the look in Bella eyes that I saw mirrored in Edward's? Magical.
I could have done without the head-bowing acknowledgment to the rest of Bella's schoolmates, though. It seemed gratuitous, and it was taking time away from Bella and Edward. I was sad at the coming end of the movie, though. I wasn't ready for it to end. Their dance in the gazebo was perfection. Edward lifting Bella's feet to the top of his made me sigh and smile like an idiot.
I know this scene and its corny lines were probably difficult for the actors, but I ate them up. The cornier, cheesier a romance is, the more I seem to like it. (If I want reality, all I have to do is leave the house.) I ate it up when Bella asked Edward why he didn't let the venom left by James' mouth spread. "I'd be just like you now."
In Edward's place, I wouldn't have wanted a killer's bite to be her introduction to the world of the undead, either. That's got a bad taste on so many levels. But because I've read the book, I already know Edward's mindset is miles above this thought. He is dead set against turning her into a vampire, against turning her into a "monster", not yet able or ready to comprehend that Bella has never seen him as a monster. (He also believes he has no soul and doesn't want Bella to share the same hell-bound fate, although this isn't revealed comprehensively in either the movie or the first book. But it is his biggest concern.)
The movie does a good job at making us think (hope) he might have a change of heart when he leans in and asks her if she's ready now (to become a vampire). It's when my pulse got another chance to do the chicken dance--another sweetly erotic play of senses as he moves in ever so slowly. Is he going to bite her? Is he? On prom night? Is she going to lose her humanity (instead of her virginity)?
But he only kissed her softly against her neck. Like I felt when I read the book, I was more relieved than disappointed. It shouldn't happen during prom; surely he'd want privacy for that kind of thing.
The movie shared Bella's narrative again and it worked well for me.
No one will surrender tonight, but I won't give in. I know what I want.And just as she's filled with resolve and longing, so am I. It's a poignant, bittersweet moment as they dance there under the lights, and oh, crap, the movie is ending.
Flightless Bird, American Mouth (see video above) played during this scene and I thought it was perfectly whimsical and sad at the same time. The lyrics (I looked them up) talk about losing a favorite toy and crying over its loss...and of maybe finding it again. But I can't really tell because the lyrics are confusing. They read like a broken man's words. A painful foreshadowing, unfortunately.
UNEXPECTED PROM GOER
I'm sighing over the song and already missing Bella and Edward when the scene pans up and over to the back of a redhead's hair bun, and a white fur wrap.
She's standing on a balcony watching Bella and Edward dance?
After a long moment, Victoria turns away with a smile, takes her hair out of the bun and starts to float, as vampires do apparently, down the stairs. She's all the more eerie because she's so beautiful at this moment as her lips curve slightly into a smile. The song changes into a fun, campy number that is not on the soundtrack by Radiohead called 15 Step (totally unexpected again, my emotions are going north and south here with no stopping for directions), and the images fade to the arty gold and black color of the flashback scenes. Catherine Hardwicke's name appears as Victoria continues floating down the stairs.
Be still, my fanpire heart. Victoria's presence at prom is another departure from the book, but a great foreshadowing movie-wise.
While the movie was far from perfect, I still loved it. Three vampire bites out of five.