So here we are, at the end of all things! The final installment of the The Twilight Saga and the end of the journey that started this blog. I’d like to start, however, with the beginning of Breaking Dawn, Part II: those amazing opening credits! Were you as mesmerized as I was? That dreamy northwest landscape that has been as much a part of these movies as the characters we love – drenched in blood red only to be frosted out in icy perfection! The overlay of natural world to Bella’s internal organs both crystalizing in the ice that has represented vampirism from the start! The fonts’ shift from red, formal serif to white, sans serif! And oh the fabulous layers of suggested meaning: the natural world is the human world, both soaked in the blood of life. The implications that Bella is giving up everything that is beautiful and living and growing and lush and changing about human life for some frozen perfection – beautiful but dead. And yet the subtle counter-implication that this transition is somehow natural. The frost of winter before a new, more vibrant life breaks forth.
And break forth it did! From the moment Bella opens her blood-red eyes, her own self-pronouncement is true: she has never been so alive, so connected to the natural world, so sure of her body/soul/self. And I pretty much loved it. From the first hunt through the forest to her fierce imaginary take-down of Arlo, I was Team Bella all the way. I never really loved the last half of the fourth book because I never cared that much about the showdown with the Volturi. It seemed superfluous in the books and in many ways I would have been satisfied with a 20 minute coda to the last movie to show us the new badass Bella. But since we got a whole movie’s worth, I gave myself over to the new Bella and her self-confident ways. If the last movie was all about Bella insisting that she could do the impossible against all odds – deliver her baby, survive her transition, and master her blood lust – this movie was her chance to prove her bet. In that sense, maybe the movie wasn’t superfluous but was itself a subtle tweak to the whole fantasy itself: maybe the real fantasy has less to do with Edward and Bella than with Bella finally coming into her own. Leaving aside the paradoxical absurdity of a phrase like “I was born to be a vampire,” Bella finally chooses what she wants and in that choice finds the courage to be all that her decision demands of her.
In the final scene when she lowers her shield and let’s Edward see the movie-montage of her love for him, I couldn’t help but feel like the real montage should have been her tripping on stairs and racing her motorcycle and kissing Jacob then marrying Edward and carrying her baby and dying in childbirth and running away from the human hiker once turned – the greatest hits of Bella’s journey to perfect Bella-hood. That this movie made me feel that the real team was never Jacob vs. Edward but was always Bella, was worth the price of admission.
I am still grossed out by the Jacob/Renesme story-line and disturbed by Alice’s vision of four adults that look basically like peers (Jacob and Nessie, Edward and Bella) embracing as in-laws (especially since Jacob used to have a serious thing for his mother-in-law). I loved the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too battle in the future but was just as disappointed in the movie as in the books that the real political point of the showdown is washed over with personal feel-gooderness. I am very curious to hear what you thought of the motley crew of witnesses assembled chez Cullens, especially since we got very little details into their personalities and lifestyles and I remember you were a big fan of the interesting alternative families they represented. Did reducing the story to Bella’s story rule out other interesting possibilities in really exploring these alternative families?
I know the journey is over, but the closing credits that tied the whole saga together into some greater whole made me pretty ready to curl up on the couch and start all over again.
Oh, and can I please get a vampire’s wardrobe and real estate agent?!
For Natalie’s response, see here