Until this week, I had never seen TWILIGHT, so as it is one of the biggest box office hits of all time to have a female director, I decided to give it a go for this column. According to Box Office Mojo, it had a production budget of $37M and it made a global $393,616,788 in theaters, which demonstrated to Hollywood that yes, teenage girls do like to go see movies, so you should make more stuff for them. That discovery eventually brought us THE HUNGER GAMES, so for that, I am grateful.
You know the story: Bella (Kristen Stewart) is an introspective but still popular high school girl who just moved to a wee little wintery town called Forks, where she meets a creepy emo glitter vampire who just can’t handle all his super deep feelings named Edward (Robert Pattinson). He saves her a lot and she stares into his eyes and that’s how they know it’s super intense forever love that Kelly Kapoor from THE OFFICE probably masturbates to.
When people talked about “glittery vampires” I thought they were being metaphorical. They were not. When Edward is doing his level best to deliver a pile of exposition, he gets ready to stand in a ray of sunlight and shamefully expose what he really looks like, and I thought “Ok, he’s gonna be soooo gross under all that pretty boy face” and he was MADE OF GLITTER.
I cannot stress this revelation enough. The boy is made of glitter. And he’s pretty. And he’s all broody in a way that makes Jordan Catalano from MY SO-CALLED LIFE look like the class clown. And all of their conversations are super duper serious, so they reminded me of this scene from one of the best BUFFY episodes of all time, “The Zeppo”:
I definitely felt like Xander throughout this entire movie.
I’m sorry, I got caught up in my emotional reactions and forgot why I was here: Taylor Lautner’s obvious wig.
Okay, that’s not why I’m here either. I’m here to talk about the technical aspects of this blockbuster film, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who’s career has been long and varied. She started out in the art department, and it shows. Edward’s bedroom and the prom scene at the end of the film are stunning to look at, but my favorite art item in the whole movie is this bit where Edward and Bella meet in the biology lab and he spends the whole scene with a taxidermied owl behind him so that it looks like he has little fairy wings on his back:
Hardwicke’s first feature directing job was the indie darling THIRTEEN, so she was a good fit for a film that required delving into the mind of an introspective teenager.
TWILIGHT was written by Melissa Rosenberg, who went on to run JESSICA JONES for Netflix. So that’s a pretty cool team: two badass women who know how to tell stories about women with angst. And as you probably know, the book was written by Stephenie Meyer, who is now probably a billionaire.
So yay! All female creators! That probably made this the most feminist movie ever, right?
Unfortunately, this is Edward’s movie, which is why it’s so weird that Robert Pattinson trashed it so much when it came out. Maybe he didn’t realize he was the protagonist.
At the beginning of the story, Edward is a complete loner whose greatest fear is that he will lose control and eat this pretty girl he just met. He saves her life a few times, introduces her to his family, and allows himself to fall in love. Then, when she is dying, he risks losing control in order to save her again, but he conquers his fear and gets the human girl, then goes to prom.
What does Bella do? She falls in love with him and gets put in danger repeatedly. During the final fight, I was thinking “Oh here’s where supposedly weak, human Bella will save her vampire boyfriend from certain death, thus giving her agency!”
Instead, she pulls out the glass shard that was preventing her from bleeding out and lets her delicious human blood spill all over the floor while everybody else does hero stuff. She has so little agency that nobody even asks if she wants to be a vampire or not while they discuss the options, even though she is still conscious and aware of what’s going on. Whether or not Bella becomes a vampire is Edward’s choice, not Bella’s, because this is Edward’s movie.
Okay, but back to some of the technical aspects of the film, which is why I am here:
There is so much blue filter in this movie, it would be super easy to convince me it is an UNDERWORLD spinoff.
The music isn’t bad, especially when Pattinson plays the piano for real, but it seems to only play as a montage or a transitory move. There is almost never any music incorporated into the scene. There’s either talking or there’s music, which I find kind of odd.
And now, before I go, I want to mention the scene in the woods when Edward reveals to Bella that he’s a vampire. We’re on mostly on dolly shots so slight it’s tough to tell the camera is not on sticks. Then suddenly, in a completely unmotivated move, the camera does a 360 around them while they’re sort of looking at each other. Then we’re back to the nearly-static shots. It doesn’t whirl around them and then end on him saying “I’m a vampire” to highlight an important moment, or start with him saying “I’m a vampire” then whirl around them to indicate that her world is spinning at this crazy news. It is nearly static, then whirls around them, then is nearly static again when he announces what he is. Why? Why is there a 360 move there? It’s possible that this was done in post, and that when they did that 360 on set, it was intended to have more meaning. But it absolutely baffled me when I saw it unfold.
However, I kind of loved the overly dramatic way the baseball game was shot, especially when the vampires started having a vogue battle.
In summation, here’s what I will remember most about TWILIGHT: Lautner’s wig, glitter, taxidermied owl.
I have so many questions that I will absolutely be watching the rest of these films as soon as I can.
Next week, I’ll be back to indie films with 2010’s THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Feel free to join the conversation by posting your reactions below (please don’t be mean to me, Twihards), or email me at TheOtherVoicesATH@Gmail.com, and follow me on Twitter @TheEmilyBlake.
Emily Blake writes screenplays with lots of fight scenes. She is a vocal advocate for feminism, polyamory, kink, and sex positivity. She makes most of her money as a script supervisor for film and television, but she also makes cosplays for clients out of her little apartment in Los Angeles.