Breaking Dawn Part 2: The End is Nigh

The first time I read the The Twilight Saga, I devoured it in just a few days. All four books. And when I got to the end of Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book, I cried in spite of the happy ending. I became so enamored with the story that I was sad that it was over.

At the time, the first film had already made it to DVD. The wheels of this massive machine were fully in motion. Knowing that all of the books would eventually be interpreted visually, I couldn’t help but wonder how the characters, scenery, and memorable moments would play out in the movies. But none more than Breaking Dawn. Would the final film be able to capture the essence of that happy (yet sad) ending in the same way?

The answer is an astounding YES!

Holy shit, guys. I was a sobbing, blubbering, happy mess. Me and my daughter.

Breaking Dawn (the book) is roughly 700 pages of Bella Swan’s many transformations. She marries Edward Cullen. She loses her virginity. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to Renesmee. Bella becomes a vampire. Ultimately, she becomes the matriarch of the Cullen vampire coven as they battle the ruling class coven of vampires, the Volturi.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 (the film) picks up just as Bella is turned into a vampire. It was an abrupt beginning that had me worried that film would be shoddy where it mattered most. But it eventually smoothed out to be a smorgasbord of Twi-hard indulgences.

***Spoilers ahead.***

Indulgence #1
As the Cullens prepare to face the Volturi, they call on their vampire friends from around the world. Vampires from the Amazon, Egypt, Alaska, Ireland and Romania descend upon Forks, Washington, and each appearance equals a squee-worthy moment. The different vampires and their stories were among my favorite things about the fourth book. The film did a wonderful job bringing them to life. Click here to see images of the many vampires of Breaking Dawn.

Indulgence #2
Kristen nailed it as vampire Bella!

All the years of slouch-shouldered lip-chewing and stammering are melted away by vampire Bella’s fierceness. To the Kstew naysayers who complained about her performance as human Bella: She was doing it on purpose because that is who the character is for three and a half books. Then she becomes a vampire who is confident and super-strong. Vampire Bella walks the walk, screams the talk, and has no intention of going down with out one hell of a fight.

Indulgence #3
In the grand finale as Bella and Edward are in the midst of their happy ending, the film cuts to an image of the last page of the book. I have talked to many Twi-fans, and one facet of Twi-love that seems to be universal is that last page. Visually, the film embodies what the words of that page contain, but cutting to a visual of the page brought the emotion of reading it for the first time rushing to the surface. That last page that rocked my world (and so many others) did it again in the movie. Bill Condon, you are a genius for putting that bit in. It ties the whole affair together. It was always about the books, and it was always about the fans of the books.

The Dessert to My Dessert
As if seeing all of the different vampires in the movies wasn’t enough, at the end of the film there is a roll call of ALL of the characters throughout the entire Twilight Saga, complete with some of their best images from the films. It’s basically a nostalgia bomb. Very effective.

So, the end is nigh my friends. The film will have it’s run in the theatres, a push for DVD/Blu-ray sales, and then the inevitable box set. But we have reached the end of Bella’s reign on the big screen. I always knew how it ended, but nothing would prepare me for the surge of emotion as I watched it end. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 was an immensely satisfying fan experience and I am grateful. I think I can go quietly into this goodnight.

Twi-haters, be happy! Soon, The Twilight Saga will be a thing of the past (maybe). Twi-hards, go in peace. This is the end we always wanted.

18 thoughts on “Breaking Dawn Part 2: The End is Nigh

  1. Question. Do you think the fact that Bella needs the powers of vampirism to find her inner strength is a negative statement about gender? Being a man, I’m on the periphery of the issues but I’m a little disturbed that so many people connect to a character that seems to be an object of desire (and really nothing more) and then only through becoming inhuman does she seem to find a sense of self. Am I reading too much into it? Isn’t Bella dependent on Edward’s given power rather than finding her own? (Now we’re going to go into the rabbit hole). Does Stephenie Meyer’s mormonism (and it’s ideas about the roles of women) informing her work. I also noticed that THE HOST seems to be a story where a young woman needs a man to save her. Is that Meyer’s message? In contrast, there’s THE HUNGER GAMES where Katniss seems much more liberated as a protagonist, more independent. Do you read those works differently? I’m curious to know your opinion (because I respect it).

    Cheers,

    BH

    • So good to hear from you, Bryan.

      I have actually thought about your questions a lot over the past few years, mostly because I do enjoy the character, Bella Swan, so much. Which may have resulted in a backwards rationionalization but I don’t think finding her power in vampirism is a negative statement about her gender. Here is why.

      Bella as a human is this sort of off-beat person. She tends to feel out of place, the odd-girl-out. While she gets involved in the supernatural world because of her relationship with Edward, it’s then that she realizes that she doesn’t feel odd anymore. She feels like she fits. Edward may be the catalyst, but there is a genuine desire on the part of this female character to be a vampire, apart from just him. Once she becomes that, the character believes it is what she was always meant to be. It’s a sort of twisted coming-of-age, but still her own.

      Also, if you are to become a vampire at all – any of the vampires, male or female – someone has to turn you. Edward turns Bella. Carlisle turned Edward and Rosalie. Rosalie turned Emmett. Alice turned Jasper. I am OK with how that works because it is inherent to being a vampire.

      If I take issue with anything, it is the WAY in which she becomes a vampire. She is dying because of giving birth, and Edward saves her by injecting the vampire venom into her. I suppose that could be some kind of euphemism, but the whole scene is crazed and desperate. I prefer to see women in fiction save themselves … if they need saving at all. But, it’s not unfaithful to the narrative because at the time Bella is Edward’s wife. And a husband would save his wife. Somewhere in that it balances out in my head. Almost.

      As for Meyer’s life perspective informing her work. Well. I say yes, to an extent. Twilight and the characters were inspired by a dream she had one night, and she went with it. I think Twilight is more her fantasy than a message. Many point to the abstinence until marriage portion of the show, but that was more an Edward thing because he came up around the turn of the century. It’s culturally accurate and put in the context of being an antiquated notion. Bella actually laughs at it. Do they still abstain? Yes. Why? Something about saving Edward’s soul (if he has one at all). So, much of the religious dogma is about the way the world works rather than the roles of the female characters. But then again, there are vampires and shape-shifting werewolves. So, how maliciously can religious dogma affect the narrative when it is absurd mixed with the absurd?

      I haven’t read The Host, so I am unable to compare.

      Bella in contrast to Katniss is an interesting dichotomy to me.

      Katniss starts off self-reliant, skilled, and strong. Over the course of three books and severe trauma, completely falls apart. While, I think what happens to Katniss is an honest outcome, at the end, the character is a shell-shocked version of her former self. Katniss’s story is a story of survival. And she survives. Barely. But why/how does she survive? Because of the hunting/foraging/archery skills that Gale and her father taught her. They are her primary strengths and they originate from male characters. I don’t think it makes Katniss any less badass in the beginning because of who taught her.

      Bella’s evolution is a build-up rather than a tearing down. Bella rises to a position of power with the help of her new family (Edward, Renesmee, and the rest of the Cullens). Katniss is all but destroyed were it not for her new family (Haymitch, Peeta and the kids that they have). Are either of the potential messages here inherently gender-negative? I don’t know.

      On a bit of a sidebar, I don’t like how Katniss is touted as the be-all and end-all of female protagonism in the modern era when ultimately the character is all but destroyed. What message does that send?

      I also don’t think that Katniss or Bella are the epitome of feminism. But you are a writer/screenwriter, isn’t it the flaws that draw the reader/viewer in? So, then I think it follows – how far do the flaws go before they are doing more damage than good culturally? Do Bella’s flaws/vices go too far for her to be a progressive female protagonist?

      If so, then we shouldn’t stop at Bella and Katniss. We need more variety. We need more female protagonists to choose from. Spread the scrutiny around.

      • Bah. It takes more time to write something shorter, LOL.

        I see your perspective and I think it speaks to the dearth of female protagonists that every one of them must somehow symbolize the State of Feminism of the Age. You don’t hear people saying that Daniel Craig’s Bond must be representative of the state of the western male. They compare Bond to Bond, not Bond to “men”.

        Although, I routinely compare myself to Daniel Craig and find myself lacking in many, many ways. : )

        In all honesty, what makes TWILIGHT difficult for me are the issues of class, privilege and even race within the fiction. The poor brown boy (who is the savage beast) pining for the snow white young woman, pre-destined to fail before the rich, white and entitled Edward. It’s awful to read the fiction that way, I’ll admit, but that’s what I see. Jacob being her “phase” before she settles down with the rich kid who is kind to her, but not necessarily “good” in the ways one would define it.

        I like Katniss more than Bella, but that’s because it’s easier for me to identify with her. I can’t really identify with Bella. I don’t “get” her. She’s a little misanthropic and I’m not sure why.

        • Oh, gosh. Face palm.

          The class, privilege, race thing had not occurred to me. Now that you mention it, it’s kind of hard not to see. Blurgh.

          Everyone is lacking when compared to Daniel Craig, even some women. ;-)

          And if you don’t identify with a character, then you don’t. In this case, I see the misanthrope perspective clearly. She is not much interested in humans save her father … like at all.

          But I think this really sums up the “Bella Issue” …

          “I think it speaks to the dearth of female protagonists that every one of them must somehow symbolize the State of Feminism of the Age.”

          Well said. And Bella doesn’t. I think it’s OK to criticize aspects of the character, any female character, but unless she was meant to … not because she isn’t the figurative Wonder Woman.

  2. My wife went and saw it with her fellow Twilight fan girlfriend on Friday night, and her verdict was resoundingly positive as well. I am glad that Kristen Stewart showed more life (ironically after she died). I thought she did a good job in Snow White And The Huntsman but found her hemming and hawing in the Twilight movies irritating.

    I don’t knock someone for what they enjoy. Lord knows I like some oddball things. So Twihards don’t bother me any more than any other hardcore fanboys or fangirls. I am glad for them that they got their property on the big screen in such a massive way — much the same way that I as an Iron Fan got to see Shellhead on the big screen in a similarly massive way.

  3. I usually wait for the movies to come out on DVD/Blu-Ray before seeing them and i will admit to considerable snobbishness about the movies and books in general. I have never read the books and I probably never will; three books worth of teenage angst is not my thing. Unless I skip ahead to Breaking Dawn of course.

    But this time I am letting my curiosity get the upper hand. Tomorrow, I will actually be going to see Part 2 at the cinema. The descriptions of Vampire!Bella have fascinated me enough to make me want to go.

      • I saw Part 1 today in preparation for tomorrow. It was OK, but I think I need time to digest it, so I will watch it again after I see Part 2. in all likelihood I will rent part 2 when it comes out and have a marathon. :-)

        It was good to see Jacob standing up to Sam, if only for a moment. I think that if he ever decides to step up and take over as Alpha, he would be a good Pack Leader.

  4. As requested, I’m back with my thoughts on Breaking Dawn Part 2. :)

    I liked it. I did get fidgety a couple of times during the whole gathering of the clans sequence, but the rest of it was pretty good. I was really surprised Jacob told Charlie about the Wolves, although not about Vampires, which I can sort of understand considering.The fight was pretty damn awesome and it was a shame it wasn’t for real. I will admit to suppressing a cheer when Jane got her just reward. :-) Baby Renesmee looked liked she was CGI’d in.

    There were two people I would have liked to know more about but either can’t remember or simply don’t know their name: One is one of the Volturi Elders who didn’t really say a lot, but seemed to very happy to be killed during the fight. The other was the bearded guy who preferred to stay in the attic and just watched everything before finally leaving. In fact I would have liked to know more about all of the people that came.

    I see what you mean about Bella being like a different person. I was really surprised at the difference but in a good way. I didn’t really see her as a Matriarch figure; maybe that’s more in the book.

    I don’t think that’s going to be the end of things though. Vladimir and Stefan are right; the Volturi aren’t just going to let this go. Aro wants Alice – and I’m sure he’d love to get his hands on Bella as well. Probably Renesmee too.

    And.. Once I’ve finished with the book I’m currently reading, I think I might just pick up the book of Breaking Dawn. Or rather download it to my Kindle. I doubt I’ll read the others though.

    And finally… “You named my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster!?!” Made me laugh out loud.

    • Thanks for your thoughts!

      Yeah. When Bella yells at Jake … that scene is great. Kristen pulled that one off well. In the book it reads a bit silly. So, I was very pleased with that.

      The fight scene is what really rocked my world. I was freaking out when people were dying, but pulling back and showing that it was just a vision was a great twist. Worked well as a visual interpretation of a fight that is mostly telepathic in the books.

      Renesmee being the centrifugal force, I give Bella matriarch credit for her protective role over Renesmee and the rest of coven rallying together in support of that. And in the book, it is Bella’s “shield” that does much of the saving. Bella’s shield gets some love in the movie, but not quite as much as in the book.

      The Volturi vampire that you are curious about is Marcus. He’s wanted to die for a long time, ever since his mate died.

      The other is Alistair. Here’s a link: http://twilightsaga.wikia.com/wiki/Alistair

      Happy reading!

      • I’ve been thinking about something since seeing the movie. If the Volturi really want Alice – and probably Bella now because of the shield – they can wait. They’re vampires after all. Give it a few centuries or so and try something new. Aro didn’t just say they wouldn’t fight, he said “We won’t fight… Today.” That pause is significant. They’ll be back sometime. The Cullens aren’t safe yet.

        • I concur. There is an entire well of story potential, here. But I don’t see it happening. Meyer retained creative control over her characters, and has explicitly stated that she wasn’t going to revisit them anytime soon.

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