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Thoughts on New Moon Movie from a Twilight outsider.

March 22, 2010

So, I have my own beefs with the New Moon movie. Too name a few – I found it lame and unrealistic (and racialized) too have the wolf boys half naked all the time. I totally hated that Bella sat around watching Jacob fix the motorbikes – what, do her lovely lady humps prevent her from picking up a wrench? In keeping with her character – she bought pizza (depleting that precious college fund) – and then threw Jacob a slice as if he were a dog (yup, more icky racialized implications). The Port Angeles scene with creepy dude and the motorcycle ride? Lame and unrealistic. Jacob’s wig (as seen above)? Nuf said.

But, there were lots of things I really liked about the film and I thought it did a very good job keeping to the spirit/tone of the book.

A friend who has not read one word of the series and only saw Twilight once as a rental watched the movie last night. These are his reactions (not word for word as I didn’t tape them or write them down, but they are as close to the tenor of what he said as possible):

Bella was totally weird and unbelievable.

Why did that naked dude have to carry her out of the woods? Can she not walk?

What was up with the motorcycles? She is totally catatonic and klutzy and then decides to rebuild some motorbikes.  AND then she doesn’t – she watches Jacob do it.

The cliff jump? Totally unrealistic and dumb. “Oh I can’t walk myself out of the woods, but now I am brave enough to jump off a cliff and if I do I will see Edward.” Dumb.

Why did Edward crash her into the table after the paper cut? Wouldn’t it have been better for him to use his mega strength to launch Jasper away from her?

I find it interesting that many of his beefs with the film were different from mine– especially his reaction to Bella. I found Bella’s behavior to be totally in keeping with her character. But, this got me thinking, for those who have not read the books and don’t know the characters or storylines intimately, how differently do the films come off? Do the movies hold up as stand alone works that give audiences a similar narrative experience as the books? Of course the medium of film is much different and that changes things, but I mean in terms of do the characters and key story points come across in the films IF you have not read the books? Having read the books, I can’t know for sure – but I do think the Twilight experience is best appreciated by reading the books AND watching the films – in a way, the two mediums supplement each other and offer a richer story. This is not how I feel about most books – I usually feel films pale in comparison to their film adaptations. But with Twilight, the films seem to extend and expand the narrative pleasure – perhaps because as Meyer has said herself, she is a very “visual writer” and pictures the scenes in her head as she writes.

What do you all think?

What were your beefs with the film version of New Moon?

I’m gonna watch it again (have been away at conference all weekend so haven’t broken into my 3DVD package) and remind myself what I love (and don’t) about the film…

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Merinne permalink
    March 22, 2010 11:10 am

    Should be getting my pre-ordered copy through the post today, so I’ll watch again and let you know – the main thing I noticed when I saw the movie in the cinema was the fact that, even though the audience was what might be deemed ‘typical’ Twilight fans (large groups of teenage girls) the film was so inescapably, gloriously LAME in places that the audience kept cracking up laughing. Perhaps, when seen before one’s very eyes in glorious technicolour, they overblown romance Meyer creates in her novels is just a bit too silly to stand up. Like when you think out a really dramatic sentence in your head, then you use it in conversation/argument and it just sounds ridiculous. These girls want to SEE Bella, but I don’t think any of them really wanted to BE Bella.

    • natalie wilson permalink*
      March 23, 2010 8:09 pm

      I noticed the laughing too and I wondered if some of the silliness/unbelievability was intentional.
      Your point that “These girls want to SEE Bella, but I don’t think any of them really wanted to BE Bella” is very interesting. I agree that this is likely true for many. But, I am also reminded of the girl who earnestly told me at Twi-Con “I AM Bella” and her desperate desire to be/identify with Bella. She was 12, clutching a stuffed wolf, and decked out in Twilight gear. Listening to her talk made me think that she feels like the series is real – she referred to characters/scenes as if they were real and kept going on about how much she LOVES Edward and Renesmee. Kinda scary!

      • Merinne permalink
        March 24, 2010 8:47 am

        Gaaaaah, scary indeed. But also bless – the incredible power of the teenage fantasy life is something I really miss, sometimes. I wonder what it is about vampires that appeals to the psyche of recently pubescent girls… When I were a lass of 12/13, I went to bed many a night fervently hoping that Lestat would clamber through my window and turn me into a Child of the Night 😛 Any theories on the appeal, or do you think that Twilight (what with the wish fulfilment and the general bloodlessness) is tapping into a more straightforward ‘girlie’ fantasy?

      • natalie wilson permalink*
        March 25, 2010 4:22 pm

        I think the appeal has a lot to do with what the vampire myth has always appealed to — forbidden sexuality/sexual acts. Yes, Twi is a particularly “girlie” take on this in some respects, but (even though penned by an abstinence friendly Mormon) there is all sorts of sexual subtext in each and every book of the series (and in the new graphic novel — post on this coming soon!).

        The vampires bite/fangs have often been read as phallic penetration while the focus on blood has been linked to virginity, sexual purity, sexual tabboo, etc. In short, vamps appeal to us cuz we are sexual beings and they are one of the creatures with the longest history of both maintaining and subverting cultural ideas about sexuality (which are, of course, very caught up with religion, gender, class, race, etc.)

        What do others think?

  2. March 23, 2010 2:48 pm

    The ending. The ending just ticks me off. Why does Edward get the last word? It makes no sense! It’s Bella’s story, she’s the narrator, and she was having none of his nonsense until at least the middle of Eclipse.

    Also, booooo Jacob’s wig. He had a better wig on SNL! What on earth are they doing at Summit? Bella’s wig for Eclipse isn’t looking so hot either…

    I think when your outsider friend was confused by the motorcycles he was reacting to bad story boarding/editing on the film. They should have had at least a tiny scene of Bella getting sent home from work early and then finding the bikes out by the trash on her way home. It makes more logical sense than just Bella driving a truck full of dead motorcycles over to Jacob’s house one afternoon. I guess I kind of mentally filled that in, since I already knew why she was doing it.

    • natalie wilson permalink*
      March 23, 2010 8:11 pm

      Imaginary Heroine,
      Great point about the ending! Shut up E! And you too J! Let the B speak!
      Soooo true about the wig. Did they get it from Target’s post-halloween bargain bin or what?
      I think the motorbike bit was poorly enacted in the film too — I agree that those who have not read the books will likely see this as unbelievable/weird/lame…

  3. Lila permalink
    March 25, 2010 4:16 pm

    It’s hard for me to imagine seeing the movie without the books. The movies were an empty shell compared to the books and I don’t think I would’ve liked the movies at ALL without the books.

    I can completely see where your friend was coming from on all of his criticisms. Without the book to explain why (among other things) they are 1/2 dressed (clothes don’t pop in and out of existence) and why she doesn’t pick up a wrench (remember the dead stereo) and the fact that she’s NOT afraid of walking in the woods alone (after she found out about vampires in 1 and trying to find the meadow in 2) so the cliff isn’t too much of a stretch since she’s seeking danger, then it does seem rather silly.

    I see the movie as just the cliff notes of the book. You get great visuals and the main plot, but none of the back story or character development. I also enjoy hearing and discussing other people’s insight about SM’s dream world and the movies have exponentially expanded the discussion.

  4. Fruitful permalink
    March 30, 2011 3:39 am

    Hi, I guess I am like your friend; I stumbled on “Twilight” the movie on television, in February. I was so gripped by it that I went and bought all 3 DVDs as a Valentine’s Day gift for myself.

    Sadly, New Moon left me desperate for brain bleach and Eclipse wasn’t much better.

    Since then I’ve read some fanfic, and Midnight Sun, and while it too was gripping, it presented me with some horrors that put me off reading the books. I watched Twilight again afterwards and felt kind of cleansed. I connect strongly with the Bella portrayed by Kristen Stewart, and with Catherine Hardwicke’s take which seems to be about female initiation into sexuality and independence.

    I do NOT connect with the chocolate brown eyes and kittenish anger in Midnight Sun (and so much more failtastic-ness).

    This leaves me in a no-man’s-land of obsessing over Twilight every day, yet unable to connect with the fandom. I wish there were other people who wanted to let the movie stand alone as a text. I’m still trying to work out my interpretation and position. So here I am, lurking your fascinating site. ^_^~

    • natalie wilson permalink*
      March 31, 2011 2:55 pm

      Great to hear your story!
      I am wondering what “horrors” put you off reading the books…
      I agree with you that Hardwicke’s take is different to Meyer’s (and am saddened – in ways – Hardwicke didn’t get to helm all of the film adaptations).
      I would love to hear more about your daily Twilight obsessions and why you feel you can’t connect with the fandom. If it makes you feel any better, lots of my students (from the Twilight class I taught last semester) did want the movies to stand alone (and apart) from the novels.
      Hope you will do more lurking and more commenting!

      • Fruitful permalink
        April 2, 2011 1:24 pm

        Hi Natalie,

        Thanks for replying – you must be incredibly busy right now!

        This is a brief summary of my brushes with Twilight.

        A couple of years ago: a newspaper has a picture of a guy who’ll play the lead in vampire flick, Twilight. I’m startled that he looks a lot like the classmate I was obsessed with from age 14-17. I make a mental note.

        Around the same time: I see Anna Paquin on a talk show, talking about her sexy vampire scenes. I mentally conflate Twilight with Trueblood. I forget about it; shows that style themselves as edgy, sexy and cool tend not to interest me. I’m sure it’ll be slick, mainstream and watered down.

        In the past year or two I’ve read mention of Twilight in multifandom posts. They all say the same thing: that Edward watching Bella sleep is creepy, stalkerish, a violation, and a bad influence on young girls. Another mental note.

        Fast forward to February 10 this year. I put on the television (a rare event sadly) and see a girl sitting in a dress shop, distractedly watching her friends try on clothes. I somehow know it’s that vampire thing. The emo girl, the distracted one, looks like a vampire. I’m captivated. She doesn’t look slick. Or mainstream. Or watered down.

        We have had too much slickness. I’m afraid I never gave Buffy a chance (I know I should have) because I found it hard to relate to Sarah Michelle Gellar (also I have a pathetic attachment to the cheesy Kristy Swanson version). There is a “doneness” about just about every media character (and half the girls on the street) that has crept in over the last decade or so.

        This girl, and this scene – the light on her more upbeat friends was nonetheless a cold light – removed the usual gloss. I was taken back to nineties high school nihilism (like the Nada Surf song “Popular”, the movie “The Virgin Suicides”, and older stuff like Heathers – for the record I wasn’t into grunge, but now find it appealing as a trope).

        As she walks away from the book shop and the plot pulls the rape card, I accept it. The (modern) fairy tale atmosphere makes cliches ok. It’s well worn code for threat and rescue. Then I see him. Ah, it’s definitely Twilight. I still don’t know who anyone is. I kind of think he’s her brother or they’re in the same coven. I think I realise she’s not a vampire when she Googles the subject. Oh well, the characters’ fluid status was nice while it lasted.

        There’s a lot I could say about what kept me watching, and what made me watch the whole thing again several times. Suffice to say, Twilight gave me a sense of erotic shock combined with enchantment (and just enough cheese) that no story has given me since the pilot episode of Queer as Folk 8 years ago.

      • natalie wilson permalink*
        April 9, 2011 8:49 pm

        Thanks so much for sharing your “brushes with Twilight.” I too feel the “rape card” you mention and the fairy tale themes are driving forces that SEDUCE readers. In fact, two chapters are devoted to this argument in my book! Thanks again for commenting!

  5. Fruitful permalink
    April 2, 2011 1:55 pm

    Horrors that put me off reading the books?

    Globally, the main problem with the last two films was a lack of coherent, distinct, building narrative. Alice coming back in New Moon was such a deus ex machina. It felt so tacked on. The plot device of Jacob mentioning the funeral to Edward on the phone was paper thin (while I accepted the corny devices of would-be-rapists, and playing tapes over the phone, in Twilight, they were painfully obvious and hence intolerable in New Moon). The whole notion of the Volturi (as well as being ridiculous) seemed like it was a separate idea altogether. The main conflict, that between the shapeshifters (the main thing NM had going for it) and the vampires, was dissipated as this new element was brought in, like two stories smooshed together, losing the impact of either one. The reunion between Edward and Bella had no substance, no tension, no release. The “Marry me” was so lame. Eclipse wasn’t much better; while Twilight made me feel like I was in a Grimm’s tale, Eclipse felt like watching Days of Our Lives. The supposedly sexy scenes had awful twee music (whereas in Twilight you could have heard a pin drop). Edward and Bella’s hair was terrible and their eyebrows were overly arched. Trying to stop frothing at the mouth with rage here 😀

    The virginity cult. In the first movie, virginity was irrelevant. Bella could have had several sexual experiences, or none – it wasn’t defining for either her or Edward. (I do find it hard to imagine Edward wouldn’t have relieved the boredom of 100 years by experimenting sexually at least once. I also don’t buy the idea that because he is from the olden days he doesn’t believe in premarital sex – lots of people did it, they just didn’t talk about it. And guess what, there were even queers in 1918!!!) I also don’t like the definition of sex as vaginal penetration that seems to be going on in the saga. Those steamy kisses are sex to me.

    I mean, that scene in Eclipse where Charlie and Bella have “the talk” – which is the most engaging scene in the entire film – spells it out. “Dad – I’m a virgin!” Bella tells him in embarrassed teen annoyance. She reifies her own virginity. It is what she IS, and what she wants her father to define her as, too. She doesn’t say “We’re not sexually active”, “we’re waiting” or even “we haven’t done it yet”. She says “I” the person Bella Swan is that thing called a “Virgin”. Hymen Intacta. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth typing that.

    Have to stop now, but my next post will be about why Midnight Sun sets off more alarm bells warning me not to read the books (though I probably will give in eventually!). ^_^~

    • natalie wilson permalink*
      April 9, 2011 8:51 pm

      Yes, yes! The virginity cult stuff makes me wanna froth at the mouth with rage too. And the way sex is coded as ONLY penis/vagina penetratios is indeed very bothersome. Yet, when I write about the saga as heteronormative and as MEGA pro-abstinence I tend to get a LOT of backlash… How is this not more apparent (and bothersome) to 21st century audiences??? And I know many DO see this but the other issue is the reluctance to accept/say anything slightly critical of the saga…

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