“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part I” (the third movie in the “Twilight” series) is a very pro-life, very Theology of the Body movie. I know there are other opinions rolling around from high-profile Catholics, but I really think they’re reading it wrong.
Here’s the storyline (not a total spoiler) for anyone who has managed to escape familiarity with this phenomenon. Bella (human, Kristen Stewart) marries Edward (vampire, Robert Pattinson). Bella could “turn” immortal vampire if Edward bites her, but so far she has not opted to go that route. On their prolonged honeymoon Bella gets pregnant (something that Edward and Bella thought impossible). The pregnancy is very difficult and seems sure to kill Bella.
Jacob (werewolf, Taylor Lautner) who also loved Bella and had hoped to marry her is exceedingly angry about this situation and blames Edward (vampires and werewolves are also sworn enemies).
Bella, from the get-go, although she is scared, loves her baby (even though exactly WHAT the baby is is not even known) and refuses to abort it. (The word “abortion” is not used, but “getting rid” of “it” and other phrases are.) At a certain point, it becomes almost definite that either mother or baby can be saved, but not both. But Bella is steadfast in her St. Gianna Molla-esque decision, which leads to a transformation and change of heart in those around her.
Objectionable parts of the movie would be the sex scenes (even though Edward and Bella are now married). Are we really supposed to watch people making love? Ever? Bella is often scantily-clad, also. The birth scene is kind of violent and bloody, but, um, isn’t the pain and peril of real-life childbirth?
A strange feature (or at least the way the movie portrayed it), is Bella’s continuing, demonstrative affection for Jacob. It’s almost like she has two husbands sometimes.
“Twilight” is pure female fantasy. Obsessive female fantasy. Two men adore one woman. But, you know what? It’s about time. 98% of what Hollywood produces is male-conceived, male-written, male-directed, male-driven, male-marketed, male-consumed.
How does Theology of the Body play out in the “Twilight” series? First of all, a chaste relationship because an honorable man takes the lead. (Good things happen when good men lead.) Second, Bella is truly the “bride,” whom the men in her life (OK, vampire and werewolf) will lay down their lives for. As Christopher West says: “It’s all about you, ladies,” (just as Jesus did everything He did FOR His Bride, the Church). And third, Bella is not a selfish prima donna. She returns “the gift” and is self-sacrificing in her love also.
The theme of immortality and “forever” is so strong in “Twilight.” Echoes of the unending heavenly marriage feast that awaits us.
Jacob’s role at the end of the film is pretty incredible. A beautiful resolution. I left the theater soaring.
--Do NOT look for good filmmaking or dialogue or acting or anything. This is camp. And it knows it. It’s like a soupy, sappy, tragic romantic comic book brought to the screen in slow motion. (My audience members—mostly young adults—laughed at the jokes in the movie AND at the most serious, melodramatic moments, which is pretty much the whole film.)
--This is a movie that girlfriends drag their boyfriends to. Overheard in line: Boyfriend: “Why am I here again?” Girlfriend: “Because I HAVE to see what happens!”
--So, could this female fantasy give young (and not so young women) the wrong idea about true love? Yes, BUT I really think that female romantic fantasies are closer to the truth about love, and not as potentially harmful as male fantasies.
• He really listens to me!
• He knows what I like!
• He wants to be with me all the time!
• He thinks about me all the time!
• He likes to cuddle!
• He tells me I’m beautiful!
• He likes to surprise me!
• He’s gentle with me and doesn’t treat me like one of the guys!
--www.decentfilms.com movie reviewer, Steven Greydanus, did an excellent in-depth article in Catholic World Report not long ago about the massive appeal of the “Twilight” series. He ends it by saying that maybe if guys were more romantic, women wouldn’t have to escape into vampire fantasies. Guys: Look at the bullet points above. That’s all we want! It’s not that hard! Sometimes I think guys DON'T do the above simple things because they don't FEEL it and don't want to be hypocritical or insincere. But it's when you DON'T feel it and you do it anyway that it's selfless, pure love! All you need to know is that it means ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING to us, so just DO IT if you really love us! You don't have to FEEL it. We get that you don't feel it. WE feel it. We need it. Desperately. I've heard it said (by a woman) that women are like flowers that need watering and care every day or else we'll wither. OK--maybe the "thinks about me all the time" is asking a bit much.
--Stephenie Meyer (author of the “Twilight” books) is a good little mythmaker.
--Bella gets married at 18. Like everyone used to. We need to rethink the possibility of getting married younger again.
--Soundtrack pop song: “I find strength in your fragile heart.” Nice. “In weakness, power reaches perfection.”
--For those still fretting that this may actually be an anti-life film in disguise, consider this: Catholics (some of whom I consider to be literalists and alarmists) are condemning it, AS WELL AS super-secular sources like the Huffington Post (who are even warning parents)! What is the “anything goes” HP worried about? The realities of childbirth, for one. Another criticism I heard is that it glorifies violent sex (Edward is super-strong and Bella wakes up slightly bruised on her arms and shoulders). But Edward is horrified and vows never to touch Bella again. Are characters pro-abortion (at first)? Yes! Characters! Not the whole film and not the heroine, Bella! And Bella prevails! What is the problem here?
--Dr. Michael Waldstein (who found the Polish original of Theology of the Body and wrote the extensive Introduction to it) says that we need to get away from the language of “rights” when it comes to pregnancy, even “the right to life,” because we immediately set up an opposition between mother and baby (of course, this can be a dire move just to save a baby’s life). I did a week of studies with him and he talked so much about our “NON-COMPETITIVE GOD,” not competitive within the Trinity and not competitive with His Creation. It just blew all our minds.
--While everyone around Bella talks about “choice,” “choice,” “choice,” Bella just loves.
--Puts a whole new spin on “the first year of marriage is the hardest.” :]
--Right across from the cinema when I stepped outside was the store: “XXI Forever.” :]
--The only thing wrong with the “Twilight” series is that Bella is married to the wrong guy. :]
--Here are some insightful FB posts from a young Mom:
• Christina Yep Hi Sr Helena! Haven't seen movie yet either and I can see how some people would draw this articles' conclusions, but I think with guidance, today's teens can see through the negative messages and pull out the positive. In fact, this movie raises some of those more intimate "mom questions" that they deal with every day - the question of saving oneself til marriage, marriage itself, who to choose (baby or mother) in extreme pregnancies. Bella and Edward might seem entirely too obssessed with sex, but as with the best of us, their love matures over the course of their relationship and the message that they wait until they are married is pivotal for them.
Saturday at 3:36am • Like
Christina Yep Regarding Edward hurting Bella...it needs to be put in context, which books do well but movies generally don't. He has been living an extreme self-control of both his passions for blood and to make love to Bella for years at this point, and has preserved both their innocence intact, so when at last they do try on their honeymoon, the appropriate time, it's hard for him to maintain that self-control. This seems so realistic to the pure married relationship to me! And when they get pregnant, like with a human pregnancy, he doesn't have a bond with his baby yet...all he sees is his wife slowly being killed before his eyes by this creature he doesn't yet love. This too seems so realistic to the human experience of fathers who struggle as a child seems to come between him and his love.
Saturday at 3:41am • Like
Christina Yep It's the powerful love of the mother, Bella, who seems to mature overnight with the presence of Renesmee inside her, and who opts for the same type of sacrifice evidenced by St Gianna Beretta Molla, that is the most beautiful of all... When I read the books and having been through 2 pregnancies myself, my first though was, of course Edward tries to force Bella to an abortion! He's losing his wife. In the end, he's not trying to get her to abort...he feels powerless to alleviate her suffering and grasps at the only solution he can reason. The fact that Bella chooses LIFE despite attacks from within and from without is a heroic example, and her reward is both her child and her living. The child herself (half human half vampire) turns out to be a brilliant, sweet prodigy of a girl who demonstrates extreme virtue and love to all those around.
Saturday at 3:50am • Like
Christina Yep Perhaps they didn't intend to get pregnant but it wasn't because they weren't "open" to life, they just thought they couldn't. In the end, the book tells me a few messages: 1 save yourself for marriage; 2 who doesn't want that type of passionate married love with their husband? this is possible; 3 no matter how difficult the pregnancy and no matter how many "extenuating circumstances" and how many people pressure you to abort, it's always better to "choose life", or your baby's life to be specific, and God will bless you.
Saturday at 3:53am • Like
Christina Yep Sorry, this got really long!!! So of course, watching the movie...these questions are going to be raised and lets hope Mom and Dad are there to counsel teens with some solid answers. It's much harder to transmit a complete message by film. God bless, Sister!
Saturday at 3:55am • Like
Christina Yep Oh, one more thing...someone mentioned the Bella-Edward relationship not being ideal. Well-said. I think teens struggle with being objective already and it's hard for them to take a step back from the emotional attraction to a passionate relationship and realize how, yes, we can all identify with elements of their relationship, but mostly it's not a very realistic relationship. The LOVE and PASSION is possible...but the strange plot and predicaments...not so much. A good story only. And the characters themselves are very flawed...but I guess the hope is that aren't we all...and despite that, love and happiness are eventually possible.
Saturday at 4:00am • Like • 1
Cynthia Morales I haven't read any of the books and I don't plan to see the movie, but I did read a review in the Chicago Tribune that described the series as "anti-abortion" and "pro-abstinence." Go figure.
BUT GET A LOAD OF THIS VERY DARK AND MENACING READ ON THE "TWILIGHT SERIES." (NOT ABOUT THE OCCULT, BUT PEDOPHILIA!)
Edward is hundreds of years older than Bella - who is an immature teen... but okay .. there's no story without it ... but once we accept that story line the slide into blatant pedophilia is swift. Meyer teaches young girls that love is obsessive - that young girls are to be possessed by men ( who look like boys) and that age and experience are inconsequential. She started with the Bella and Edward relationship and continues it in increasingly disgusting ways.
Claire is imprinted by Quil ( if I remember rightly) as a fully human child at 2 years of age - at 16 she will be imprinted to him like it or not. Then Jacob imprints with a newborn. Sorry if that's a spoiler - but educating people about the evil of child abuse is more important than whether or not someones surprise is ruined. This is not just an innocent story - it like many stories has a cultural impact - more so than others considering the record breaking opening box offices.
Our stories become our schemas. We create scripts for living and social interaction largely based on the stories that we step into. This story has many misguided notions about what sexuality should be - physical violence, abuse, obsession - are not elements of healthy relationships. Being willing to damn your eternal soul for a man is not good for a young woman but it's a choice - the pedophilia portrayed in this story on the other hand is not a choice.
Jacob and Nessie are obviously eventually intended to have a sexual relationship sometime in the future. Earlier in the story ...Jacob imagines being the father of Bellas children ...and likewise she imagines the same. Jacob is going to be intimately involved in raising her. She is going to be raised by the pack - he's to be her father, sibling , uncle, moms former paramour and eventually her own lover - no conflicts there. The argument that she develops faster and will be an adult by age 7 ...is a common argument from pro pedophiles ... people develop and mature at different rates - so chronological age doesn't make a difference. Nessie may develop physically mentally faster than the rest of us - but with this situation of being raised by the man she's expected to mate with - she is bound to develop into a truly messed up person - she'll just do it quicker than most abuse victims. Similarly Quil is called Claires "best big brother" - a brother who she is expected to start mating with at 16.
This notion that somehow a child victim can be developed enough to be a willing participant is why we end up with real world situations like the Penn state situation - in which ( according the the grand jury report) on at least two occasions adult men walked in on another adult man abusing boys 10 and younger - and walked away without removing the child from danger - as if they had walked in on two consenting adults.
Although Meyers sets up the canon that the male imprints - later she seems to want to imply that the baby imprinted on Jacob first ...this is why Bella wants to to be around him and such. This is a common pedophile mindset - it is the victims fault .. he is helpless over his need. This reversal of victim hood - the idea that the victim exerts more control over the abuser than he does over the victim - is extraordinarily common. We don't like to admit it but we live in a blame the victim world.
The imprinting seems to have left Nessie with no free will. Another common thought process of abusers - the victims will doesn't matter.
Jacob gives her a token of his promise to force him to be his forever ..and were supposed to think this is sweet? BTW he gave a similar bracelet token to her mother - who he was passionate about and abusive towards ...when he can not have the mother the way he wants - when the mother does not adore him - he takes the child. This is unfortunately an all too true reality for many real world daughters.
And as happens all too often in the real world the child's parents do not protect her. Edward and Bella shrug it off.Edward even calls him "my son" ... the whole thing is pretty sick and not very TOB at all.