2. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)
Breaking Dawn – Part 1 spiced up what was becoming a very stagnant franchise.
The film experimented with making fun of itself for the first time, which created a light-hearted and playful atmosphere that counterbalanced the bold and distressing adventures with blood-drinking and vampire pregnancies.
After a lavish teen wedding and some falling out with both friends and family members, Edward and Bella head out on a romantic honeymoon on which Bella very quickly and unexpectedly falls pregnant with Edward’s vampire child. To Bella’s dismay, she learns that despite his rather conservative views on pre-marital sex, Edward is pro-choice. Although the pregnancy rapidly begins to drain the life from Bella, she adamantly refuses to give the child up, she grows skeletal and weak, and is only able to consume cups full of human blood that her unborn monster craves. Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse have their roots firmly grounded in young adult romance tropes, whereas Breaking Dawn lets go of this vision and instead embraces the Horror iconography its mythical characters originate from.
Breaking Dawn – Part 1 takes Bella, Edward and Jacob completely out of their comfort zones, showing us new elements of their previously established personalities. Bella finally finds something more important to her than Edward, and we see her claim back some of her agency in her strong determination to carry her baby to full term. The control Edward has over Bella begins to dissipate, and his unwavering strength crumbles when he realises he can neither force Bella to bend to his will or be responsible for saving her life. Jacob’s reliable loyalty and friendship are called into question when he turns his back on his werewolf pack to protect Bella. Despite his determination to look out for Bella, his deep hatred for her pregnancy sees him down a dark path upon which he reveals himself capable of extreme violence and even potential murder.
Breaking Dawn – Part 1 dared to try new things, and by doing so breathed life back into the franchise. Highs include Anna Kendrick’s wedding speech and Bella’s horrific c-section. Lows include the creepy baby Renesmee, and Jacob’s strange crush on her (that everyone seemed to be overly cool with).
Recommended for you: Every ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ Song Ranked
1. Twilight (2008)
The crème de la crème of the franchise is Twilight.
The original movie was a compelling re-imagining of the classic girl meets boy tale, which managed to fulfill all of our deepest emo fantasies.
Despite most studios choosing to reject the original script due to box office worries, Catherine Hardwicke saw something in the forbidden love of the lion and the lamb. Free from the constraints of huge studio influence, Hardwicke was free to make Twilight with her own style of independent filmmaking, and managed to make the movie for a mid-budget sum of around 37 million U.S Dollars; the film went on to gross $392.5 million worldwide, almost ten times its production costs.
Unable to stay with her mother in Arizona, Bella Swann, a clumsy and painfully awkward teenage girl, is forced to move to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her father. Forks is a place in which it rains around 206 days per year – its dark and gloomy aesthetic artfully captured in Elliot Davis’ cinematography – which foreshadows the ominous creatures Forks counts among its inhabitants. Our shy heroine becomes lab partners with a pale-faced, unknowable boy named Edward Cullen, who she eventually discovers is a vampire with a particular craving for her blood. As soon as Edward catches a whiff of Bella, he gasps, covers his mouth and sits rigidly beside her until he can flee from her presence. This immediately spotlights both the palpable attraction and clear threat Edward poses to Bella, setting up a strong tale of forbidden love.
Twilight dared to dabble with themes of teen lust, sex and fantasy, never before explored with such intensity in pre-existing teenage romance movies. Although Edward wanted to sleep with Bella, he couldn’t trust himself to not drain the life from her, and so the pair isolated themselves in the erotica of abstinence, thus creating an atmosphere so tense and sexually charged it sent audiences batty.
Highlights of the film include the out of this world soundtrack featuring Paramore’s “Decode” and the Cullen family’s iconic baseball game set to Muse’s “Super Massive Black Hole”. Lows included the god-awful line “You’d better hold on spider-monkey” and Bella’s constant lip nibbling.
Written by Leoni Horton
You can support Leoni in the following places: