Much has been made of the Twilight books ‘undercurrent’ of Mormon values. Stephenie Meyer has spoken very openly about her faith and values and what part she believes they have played in the Twilight world. Undeniably the entire series is kept out of naughty waters by whacking great water wings of abstinence; hardly behaviour we have come to expect from the teens of today, yet there is likewise no denying that millions have fallen under the thrall of Edward Cullen. Now, with director David Slade at the helm, Twilight is slipping deeper into the shadows of night. This is perhaps fitting because, at its simplistic and silent heart, Twilight is, as all great love stories, the tale of a beauty and a beast…
Every romance writer worth their cover price understands the importance of obstacle in the path towards The End. His pride or her prejudice, the mad wife in the attic or the dead wife in the sea; literary lovers live to overcome. With living happily ever after as romances ultimate goal, being undead might well prove be the greatest obstacle of them all!
There is something of a tradition in cinema and literature for the devil as romantic lead. Complex, autocratic, cruel men snatching the pure heart of an innocent virgin as it flutters in her chaste chest. Violence has long been synonymous with, and interpreted as, passion and suppression of violence as shorthand for romance. Darcy, Heathcliff, Mr Rochester and Maxim de Winter; all men made remarkable by their imperious manner, disdain for others and sometime cruelty to the great loves of their lives. All made the journey from page to screen unadulterated by modern sensibilities and tastes.
The Twilight saga sits well beside them as a new literary love for a far from literate generation. They are, so far, a safely PG-13 Peter and Jane. He is pretty, she is pretty. They are brooding. Watch them brood.
The Lion and The Lamb motif does feel like a throwback to another time. Bella is so helpless in the wake of the crashing wave that is Edward Cullen’s attention. She hardly has time to decide to be in love before their love story has begun. No matter, Bella is hardly required to actively feel at all. Hardly heroine-by-numbers, only Kristen Stewart’s trademark scowl separates her from the everygirl/any girl words on the page. Her character so scarcely drawn she is hardly distinguishable from prey. Wanted, cast aside, stalked, seduced and taken – a principle dancer in a brutal ballet.
Edward Cullen conforms more comfortably to type. No skulking Count Orlok he, but a pout-perfect tormented hero. Closest in affect to Interview with the Vampire’s onscreen Louis, the ghost of his human incarnation is never far from the surface.
Personally, I too prefer a little more mixed-up-man in my heroes. A Tale of Two Cities Sydney Carton made the ultimate selfless sacrifice for love after living his life as a flawed and selfish fool. In my opinion he is literature and cinemas greatest romantic lead because his love is never reciprocated though, for a moment, he dares dream it could be. Needless to say as a Buffy fan I always favoured Spike over Angel – the anti-hero wins my heart every time! Yet I have no desire to speculate on the Jacob-Bella story, the fluffy teen wolf is merely another distraction hurled in Bedward’s path. Despite Taylor Lautner’s (baffling) tween appeal there has only ever been room for two in this torrid tale.
For now then I am happy to accept that Twilight has conformed to the romantic rules. It will be interesting to see how screen writer Melissa Rosenberg and director David Slade effect the transition to darkness that Eclipse may demand. A veteran of televisual serial murder, Rosenberg has restrained herself thus far. Talents combined will they dare expose the bitter aftertaste of Twilight’s penultimate bite?
Slade’s 30 Days of Night experience might be better utilised to document the rib-cracking results of true loves consummation in Twilight’s final chapter – Breaking Dawn. I cannot help but wonder how the rose-tinted specs of fandom will stand up to the myopia of Myer’s retro take on deflowering.
Still, let’s worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Today the moon is new and true as Edward and Bella’s love and The Lion is preparing to lay down his life rather than live it without his Lamb…