Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, part 1.

By Sati. Thursday, November 24, 2011 , , , , , , ,
78/100 (117 min, 2011)
Plot: The Quileute and the Volturi close in on expecting parents Edward and Bella, whose unborn child poses different threats to the wolf pack and vampire coven.
Director: Bill Condon
Writers: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay), Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner

Veil of eternity, womb of blood

Bill Condon did to "Twilight", what Alfonso Cuaron did to "Harry Potter" - he made the Pinocchio in the real boy - he made the story into a film. It's only so much scriptwriter can do with the book like that - let's face it - it's the world were werewolves and vampires exist, more then that - werewolves are capable of communicating telepathically and vampires apparently have working sperm. But if the director and the crew is skilled enough, they can make a decent, entertaining film and sneak in few surprises along the way. Sure it's cheesy, melodramatic and ridiculous - but I'll take well made, entertaining and actually, quite coherent movie over self indulgent piece of shit like "The Tree of Life" any day.

The movie opens with the shot of sky, in the colour of blood. We watch people closest to Bella react to receiving an invitation for her wedding with Edward. There are two wedding sequences in the movie - both wonderful - one taking place in Bella's dreams, another in reality. The one in the dream is something I really didn't think I may witness in "Twilight franchise". It's like something taken straight out of fascinating nightmare - everyone is dressed in white, red rose petals are falling from the sky. Suddenly, Bella and Edward are shown in close up and as she looks down she realizes they are standing on the bodies of slaughtered wedding guests. All of that looked like a bloody wedding cake, with two of them, perfect figurines on top of it. Except the groom is smiling and licking blood off his lips and the bride stares at all of that in horror.
The real wedding goes a lot different - it's delicate and sweet and features another imaginary image - when Bella and Edward kiss, everyone disappears. It's just them against the world. The honeymoon scenes take a lot of screen time, but they actually filled with a lot of humour - the best thing the director does is being fully aware of how silly some of the scenes are and embracing them as comedy - Bella being completely freaked out about wedding night, Bella trying to seduce Edward and the couple spending most of their honeymoon...playing chess. The wedding night scene is probably the most subtle sex scene that came out in the movie aimed at teenagers. It is genuinely tender and the image of Bella and Edward kissing and embracing standing in the ocean is another of movie's glorious shots. But the sweet and joyful time doesn't last long - Bella realizes she is pregnant. And nobody knows what exactly is growing inside her.

Bella protects her child from the first moments - she will not let anyone harm it. For years now some people have been defending the character of Bella and saying she is actually strong. Finally we get to see she is - there is a scene where the newlyweds are going to the airport - when they arrive, Bella sits in the car as Edward talks to the pilot, confident and determined. She realizes how powerful the people she is involved now are and that they will do whatever it is to save her, not the baby. So she acts fast and from that moment on she has unlikely ally - Rosalie, who always wanted to have a child, but as a vampire is incapable of having one.
The rest of the film balances on the thin ground between drama and horror movie - this has got to be one of the most nightmarish pregnancies since "Rosemary's Baby" - much like Mia Farrow in the legendary film, Stewart looks horribly weakened, exhausted, almost like a skeleton. She is stabborn and she wants the baby to be born - she sees it as a miracle, Edward sees it as a monster who is killing his beloved. It takes some time for Edward to hear the baby - in the beautiful sequence, he realizes that the child doesn't want to hurt her mother. Somewhere along the way the family figures out that Bella needs blood to keep the child alive. Seeing skinny, weak Stewart drinking blood through the straw was really messed up. I genuinely love how weird and crazy things are getting in this Saga, it's almost a body horror, whenever Bella is standing up - being bones and skin - with huge, bruised stomach, hiding a mystery.

All of this is quite distressing to watch, but there is only one truly petrifying scene - when Bella goes into labor and from the looks of it the baby kicks her so hard, her back breaks. This is like something straight out of Cronenberg's movie. The infamous birth scene is more disturbing than gory - particularly because Kristen Stewart looks like equivalent of Michael Fassbender in "Hunger" - she is sickly skinny, bruised, her lips are parched, her skin is awful. And then she lies there, motionless, looking exactly like a corpse, with her eyes opened and Edward desperately trying to bring her back to life.

Bill Condon may have taken his sense of irony from his last name. It is stunning that in all three previous movies there were lots and lots of moments were you could see the director wants you to take this all seriously, it just failed because honestly - it's fantasy mixed with teenage romance. This movie plays out like a modern monster movie. If that was made back in the 20's it could probably be a classic campy film right now. Come on, back then we had gigantic women and aliens attacking people. This is not so far out. The key to success here is that, the director, who won Academy Award for his script for "Gods and Monsters" which is incidentally the story of James Whale, the director of Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), seems to have taken all the best parts of previous movies, stitched them out and breathed life into the film. Sometimes the stitches are visible and ugly, sometimes you feel like this creation will collapse, but by God, it's alive!

Kristen Stewart is again the strongest in the cast - her acting in the scene after the wedding night where she is reminiscing what happened and when she examines her body in the mirror as she is both mesmerized and horrified by pregnancy is wonderful. Taylor Lautner surprises in the strongest performance out of the ones he gave in the saga so far. Robert Pattinson has the least amount of work to do, he fits the role and is quite heartbreaking near the end of the movie. All of the Cullens have their moments - Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie, Emmet, Jasper and Alice. All of the actors do good job. The best ones from supporting cast are Bella's adorable parents, played by Billy Burke and Sarah Clarke.

The cinematography by Guillermo Navarro, the artist behind the moving pictures in "Hellboy" and "Pan's labyrinth" is beautiful. We almost get to experience what characters do - when Bella and Edward spent evening in Rio de Janeiro, we see the life pulsing through images, vivid, colorful, lively. When Bella is weakened and fears death, everything looks cold and unwelcoming. Some of the shots - like Bella lying in the coffin, the combination of life flashing before her eyes and her internal organs healing miraculously and quickly and Jacob's run when his rage and sadness go through him in the representation of vibrant images overlaying before our eyes are ingenious.

The score by Carter Burwell, who did the music for first "Twilight" takes some time to get used to. It is more memorable than first movie's music, more in tone of the story than Alexandre Desplat's work for "New Moon" and less ponderous than what Howard Shore did in "Eclipse". "Bella's Lullaby" and "Flightless bird, American mouth" from first film appear again - first the theme of the story, played in wonderful ending, second, carrying the echo of couple's kiss during prom, is heard during wedding kiss.
The ending is the best scene of the film - it's the best transformation scene since "Interview with a Vampire" and "Thirst" - we get to see Bella's body coming back to life, ironically in death, and as Edward comes closer to her, the camera keeps zooming in on her face until we just see her eyelids. Suddenly they open. And her eyes are red.

I genuinely can't wait to see what messed up stuff is about to come next.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely the best of the series for me. Great review!