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Twilight Dims with Breaking Dawn – Part 1

  • Susan Ellingburg Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2011 11 Nov
  • COMMENTS
Twilight Dims with <i>Breaking Dawn – Part 1</i>

DVD Release Date: February 11, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: November 18, 2011
Rating: PG-13 (for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements)
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Thriller
Run Time: 117 min.
Director: Bill Condon
Actors: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Billy Burke, Rami Malek, Maggie Grace, Mackenzie Foy

Let’s just get this out of the way up front: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is a movie about vampires and werewolves. It is not based on a biblical perspective and little is in keeping with any sort of Judeo-Christian worldview. While there are some praiseworthy parts, on the whole it is a violent, sexually-charged, blood-spattered film.

That’s not to say it’s not entertaining on some level and will, no doubt, be wildly popular. There’s no accounting for taste.

But about the movie . . . I can sum up the plot in six words: beautiful wedding, steamy honeymoon, violent aftermath.

If you’re new to The Twilight Saga (based on Stephenie Meyer's best-selling young adult novels), Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is not the place to begin. Without a basic idea of the characters and the universe they live in, the unwary viewer will be utterly lost. For the uninitiated, this should catch you up: Bella (Kristen Stewart, The Runaways) is a human teenager who falls in love with an attractive vampire named Edward (Robert Pattinson, Water for Elephants). They live in a remote area discreetly ruled by werewolves, one of whom is Jacob (Taylor Lautner, Eclipse), who also loves Bella. After much dithering, Bella agrees to marry Edward and (eventually) become a full-fledged member of his undead but loving family.

This brings us to the much-anticipated wedding, which is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a young girl’s dream woodland wedding; vampires apparently have fabulous taste and unlimited budgets. The ceremony is tender, the guests refrain from killing each other, and all is sweetness and (relative) light. Enjoy this moment; it’s the calm before the storm.

The honeymoon is on a breathtakingly beautiful private island. Unlike most modern movie couples, Edward and Bella actually wait until after they’re married to have sex. Kristen Stewart is charming as a nervous bride on her wedding night. Much passionate (and downright violent) frolicking ensues, complete with nudity—all the ‘important bits’ are obscured—and scantily-clad cuddling. (To be fair, they are on their honeymoon and it is a private island; the audience is the voyeur here.)

Much to the couples’ surprise, Bella soon finds herself pregnant. Before you can say “Rosemary’s Baby” Edward whisks her home to get his doctor ‘dad’ to “get rid of it.” But Edward didn’t count on the power of a mother’s love.

Perhaps oddly for a film featuring the undead, there’s a strong Right to Life message. When it comes to her half-human/half-vampire offspring Bella is determined to deliver, even if it means drinking blood (through a straw) or giving her life for that of her unborn child.

At its heart, Breaking Dawn Part I is about more than deathless romance or demon babies. It’s a tribute to one of our most basic desires: the need to belong. The vampires may drink blood to survive, but when Bella’s life is threatened, they close ranks to protect her even if it means going hungry themselves—because she’s family. (At this point she’s also technically a potential food source, which makes the sacrifice all the more touching.) Even the werewolf siblings bemoan their need to “imprint” on someone else. The craving for connection is at least as powerful as a vampire’s urge to drink blood.

FYI, if parents are concerned the honeymoon will stir up raging hormones, the childbirth scene should serve as a deterrent. If the sound of breaking bones, the sight of an amateur emergency C-section, and copious quantities of blood are not bad enough, the sight of someone licking their lips over a bloody scalpel is vile. Actually, quite a bit of the film is disturbing, blood-soaked, violent, and downright unpleasant. But the talking wolves? That was just lame.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Champagne served at wedding where Bella’s dad announces he “plans on getting drunk,” drinking on the street, ‘to-go’ cups of blood for the expectant mom.
  • Language/Profanity: He**, da**.
  • Sex/Nudity: A significant portion of the film is devoted to the honeymoon and Edward and Bella’s sexual encounters (all post-wedding). Little is left to the imagination; the naked couple is seen embracing and engaging in sex (although specific body parts are generally obscured). They destroy a bed in the process. In addition, there is conversation about sex, virginity, and the expected effect of a human mating with a vampire.
  • Violence: It’s a violent film. Murders, fights, and blood (a lot of blood) are shown, including piles of bloody bodies and bloodstained clothing. Violent sex implied by the bruises left on Bella’s body. Bella and Edward’s unborn child is shown inside Bella’s body wreaking havoc on mom’s bones. Werewolf scenes are filled with violence against vampires and each other, including hand-to-hand combat. We’re treated to several scenes inside Bella’s circulatory system that may prove disturbing. She has to drink blood (through a straw) to stay alive and it sticks to her lips and teeth. The childbirth scene is intense, filled with incisions, breaking bones (both sights and sounds), biting, and a syringe stabbed directly into the heart.
  • Spiritual Concerns: All things considered, this entire film is a spiritual concern. During a frenzied run, Jacob hears voices that may be memories but are certainly creepy. A woman who appears to have some sort of psychic ability calls Edward a demon. Edward can read minds and his ‘sister’ has a limited ability to see into the future. Edward pulls up disturbing images online while doing research on what sort of creature his spawn may turn out to be. The child is referred to as a demon, a “thing,” and several other disturbing terms. Bella lies to her father to hide her pregnancy; he jokingly asks if Edward “still walks on water.” Although married to Edward, Bella tells Jacob it “feels complete” when he’s around; it seems to be a sort of emotional ménage a trois. And of course, there’s that whole vampire/werewolf thing.