It’s hard to imagine any filmmaker making the final, and probably the most perverse, of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books into a good movie—let alone two movies, which is the plan. But Summit Entertainment is giving it their best shot: After discussions with a list of respected directors including Sofia Coppola, Steven Daldry and Gus Van Sant, Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey) has reportedly emerged as the front-runner, according to Deadline.com.
Summit’s Twilight series is the latest fantasy franchise to postpone the inevitable by doubling down on the final installment. Warner Bros’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows opens in November, but we won’t be saying goodbye to Harry until July 2011 when Part II opens. The coming Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit, is also being developed as two films.
All of this may make financial sense, but in moviemaking terms it seems to me to be asking for trouble. Wasn’t the first half of J. K. Rowling’s Deathly Hallows mostly a holding pattern, with Harry on some endless camping trip or something? Do we really need a whole movie about that? And of course The Hobbit is a far slighter work, in more ways than one, than the three parts of The Lord of the Rings. I know, they’re going to pad it out with material from Tolkien’s other writings, but still.
Perhaps Peter Jackson should have considered splitting The Return of the King in two. It might have mollified the people who complained that the ending kept going on and on, and perhaps he could have got in the Scouring of the Shire, too. Certainly one good film of The Last Battle seems too much to hope for; I don’t need to see two. (I’m just saying; this isn’t something the Narnia producers are talking about, as far as I know.)
Of all these split ends, though, forking Breaking Dawn into two films seems the dodgiest proposition. Not that it isn’t understandable that Summit, an upstart studio whose Twilight success was their first claim to fame, should want to milk (or suck) the franchise for all it’s worth. (More recently, Summit won critical and awards acclaim, if not huge box-office rewards, with The Hurt Locker.)
But have they read the book? Um, ick.
Bella’s self-destructive lion-and-lamb romance with Vampire Dreamboat culminates in marriage (yay Mormon chastity), and all in all her wedding night, which leaves her covered with bruises, could have gone a lot worse.
Then, though, comes pregnancy. Unholy Alien reproductive anxiety nightmare pregnancy, Batman.
Convinced that Bella is incubating a monster, Vampire Dreamboat wants to abort. The werewolf contingent, less delicately, want to kill the child without the bother of saving the mother’s life.
Some say that pro-lifers should rejoice that Bella decides to keep the baby. I say pro-lifers should rejoice when pregnancy is treated as beautiful and holy. The placental miracle of a mother’s blood nourishing her baby’s blood without commingling is one thing; a li’l bloodsucker nursing on its mother’s blood supply from the womb is something else.
Childbirth (I know very, very well) can be grueling and life-threatening; it is not gruesome and monstrous. That Bella massively exsanguinates while giving birth is not, so to speak, beyond the pale; that her vampire-human half-breed offspring shatters her bones and shreds her viscera, trying to chew its way out while mama vomits fountains of blood … sorry, “pro-life” is not the term that comes to mind. That Vampire Dreamboat must turn Bella herself into Vampire Consort Chick to save her life—not my idea of “breaking dawn.”
Looking on the bright side, the book is split into three parts. Maybe we’re getting off easy with only two movies.