Friday, November 21, 2008

I saw the mooo-vee, I really liiiiked it...

So I went to the midnight showing of Twilight last night with a non-Twilight-fan friend - loved it! It was pure lovely escape. I'm not blind to its flaws (not enough time spent on developing the relationship that's central to the story - to all four books' stories, in fact, special effects reveal the film's low budget, the detail of the book's plot doesn't come out in every instance in the movie), but boy, did I have a good time!

***************** SPOILER ALERT for anyone planning to see it ******************

Notes, faves, and observations:

1. I was fascinated by audience reaction to several scenes: nervous laughter. I'll have to see it again to pinpoint all of the scenes, but my middle-of-the-night recollection is that it was during the moments of greatest intensity, where we're supposed really to sense Edward's difference - his deadliness, the fact that, "vegetarian" or not, he's a vampire. The one I can recall for certain is the first scene in biology, when he first catches Bella's scent and is nearly overcome by a desire to kill her. The scene does a series of short cuts throughout biology class, in each one Edward glaring murderously at Bella as Bella, bewildered, surreptitiously sniffs her hair and clothes and otherwise tries to figure out how he could hate or be disgusted by her on sight. Edward... never... moves. You have the sense that if he were to move, it would be - well, terrible.

There were giggles from this corner, then that row, then a little ripple from over there, at each short cut - as if the audience was trying to defuse the horror of the scene. I say "nervous laughter" with confidence, because (a) I know what I was feeling during that scene - "don't move, Bella - don't move, Edward," (b) it didn't have that "OK, this is kind of funny, I guess..." sort of weariness to it, and (c) it never grew. It cropped up - it fizzled; over and over, in a number of scenes like that one. Veddy interesting.

2. The movie had one major drawback: given the constraints of the medium, it couldn't show enough relationship development for either the non-Twilight person (who might be left, as my friend was, a little puzzled as to what these two saw in one another) or the Twihard (who wanted EVERY LAST LINE of dialogue represented). As such, it had to rely very heavily on the much-discussed chemistry between Bella and Edward. And I thought they did a very workmanlike job: the wordless scene when they're lying in the meadow, just looking at one another, not even touching, is tender indeed. The scene in the treetop, where they circle around and around the trunk, clambering up and twisting between branches, was like watching them make out (no nervous laughter in the theater there, only utter silence) - the tree limbs were like surrogates for their own limbs, their motions around and through them like an awkward physical exploration they could not actually have with one another. They had, I thought, a next-to-impossible task in trying to portray their growing love, but at the very least they managed to portray their growing desire!

3. Favorite scenes: First kiss. The final trailer before the movie came out showed about half of it, and that was good enough - two fraught seconds of almost-contact, two seconds of kiss. But there's more: maybe three seconds of Bella losing her grip on the fact that she's supposed to be holding perfectly still, grabbing Edward's face and smooching him, and then the critical one second of Edward throwing her backwards and diving on her with something between groan and whimper, then rocketing away from her as he realizes how close to the edge he is. Tasty.

Prom kiss. Even knowing that Edward will not be biting Bella at this time (which is a paraphrase from The Princess Bride - "He doesn't kill Westley at this time. I say this because you looked nervous"), the moment when he bends over her neck, asking her if she's ready right now to be turned into a vampire, is - whew!

And venom-sucking-out. Bella is losing blood; Carlisle has tourniqueted her thigh, the femoral artery of which has been severed. So she's in and out, and her eyes are crossing both with the in-and-out-ness and with the pain of the venom and, though I didn't see the shot administered, with the morphine Carlisle is supposed to have given her. Because Carlisle is dealing with her injuries (and they should've made him have to do more, because my recollection is that he's just kind of sitting there watching as he tells Edward he has to be the one, though he, Carlisle, has the greatest control of any of them), Edward has to suck the venom out of the inside of her wrist (which is WAY hotter than her being bitten on the hand, as the book says). He spends precious seconds telling her he'll "make it go away" as he gathers his courage, shoots a desperate glance at Carlisle, and yanks her arm to his mouth. And drinks. And drinks, moaning. Bella, still in and out, eyes rolling back in her head - is she losing consciousness, or is she overcome (if you know what I mean)? Edward's eyes, vacillating between wide-open horror at what he's doing and half-closed pure ecstasy. The fire of James's destruction in the background. If the treetop scene was surrogate makeout, this is proxy sex. And it's so intense it was almost painful to watch. And I want to watch it over, and over, and over, because voyeurism is fun.

4. How did my non-Twilight friend like it? And why did I like it so much? Hmm. She enjoyed it and came out of it thinking she'd read the books, so even though some references were lost on her and some short scenes - obviously included for the Twihards and for the sequels - didn't make a lot of sense to her, that's a win for Stephenie Meyers. As for me... well, as previously discussed, I never actually got older than seventeen, so the books and now the movie enable me to relive, in safe vicarious fashion, the wild torments and unearthly joys of that age. An age, I should add, when I was very horribly in love with the wrong person, convinced that I would literally (and I almost do mean "literally" - not just in the teenage figurative sense of "literally") die if he left. Which, of course, he did, and I didn't die, so I was in good shape for meeting my husband eventually and being able to fall hard for him without fearing I was shortening my life. So in addition to my proclivity for peopling the landscape of my mind with younger men like the very pretty and rather scary Rob Pattinson, I loved all that intensity.

Funny. There's way more in my life today for me to feel intensely about; I wonder why I don't feel as intensely about all of it as I did about what, in the end, was a one-year hardly-worthy-of-the-name "relationship"?

Because seventeen, that's why.


Michael Daubenmire said...

You may have already gotten this link from thirty-seven of your closest friends, but just in case you haven't, here's a link to Caitlin Flanagan's piece on these movies, and related issues, from December's number of The Atlantic.

Jamie said...

Thanks, Michael - I hadn't (because most of my friends, while they know aaaaaaall about my Twilight thing, look upon it as one of my various foibles - to be tactfully ignored rather than brought into the light. But what's a good brother-in-law for but to indulge the sister-in-law in her oddities? (eye roll at self)

Jamie said...

And now having read the review, thank you again, because she says far more cogently and beautifully what I've been trying to say.