17-year-old Bella Swan has recently moved to Forks to live with her dad. Attending the local high school, she quickly makes new friends but when the mysterious Edward Cullen takes an interest in her, she is equally captivated by him. After Edward displays a seemingly impossible ability to stop a van from crushing her, he warns her to stay away from him. Unperturbed, Bella discovers his terrible secret and has to decide whether to walk away or continue the relationship which will put her life in danger.
Twilight (2008) – Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Running Length: 122 mins
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Horror
‘Twilight’ is the first movie instalment of Stephanie Meyer’s novels which are more commonly known as ‘The Twilight Saga’. While the ‘paranormal romance’ market is somewhat saturated these days, Twilight is one of the fore-runners of this modern teen phenomenon and perhaps has a more innocent storyline than some of its successors within the genre.
While ‘teen romance’ is sometimes a nicer concept than that of a more adult relationship, the obsessive nature of Bella and Edward’s attraction towards each other makes for a darker and slightly more sinister storyline than wholesome young love might otherwise imply. Kristen Stewart tries to portray a deep, moody teenager but comes across as rather bland and despite Robert Pattinson’s performance, which is more emotive, the chemistry between them is somewhat lacking. Sadly, this ‘love’ story is the main focus of the movie and the more interesting scenes are kept to a minimum. Characters who could add depth to the plot are sidelined and even the main antagonists are only properly introduced towards the end of the movie. ‘Twilight’ could have coped with the more complex storyline which was hinted at but never properly realised and unfortunately the plot of an unrealistic love affair does not necessarily provide enough entertainment value for a two-hour film.
That said the target audience is clearly that of a pre-teen to teenage market and although Twilight has many shortcomings the inherent appeal of a forbidden vampire love story may well prove compelling enough for those who want to watch this movie to be able to overlook the fact that, when broken down, very little actually happens in ‘Twilight’.
IS ‘TWILIGHT’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
There are several violent scenes during the film which could be potentially distressing for younger viewers. Three vampires are shown to attack innocent people on two separate occasions. While the violence itself is not graphic, the victims are terrified which the vampires enjoy, often saying and doing things which make it worse. Each death is reported afterward as an animal attack so the audience is aware that these innocent people were brutally murdered.
One of the antagonists captures Bella and records himself hurting her. He is seen to stamp on her leg and break it, which makes her scream in agony. Shortly after this, Bella is thrown across the room, landing on fragments from a broken window; she is then seen to pull a large shard of glass out of her leg. Throughout the movie, there are also images of necks being broken (in the background of the shot), necks and arms being bitten resulting in bloody injuries and blood dripping from mouths as well as medieval pictures of people being tortured and disembowelled. The method described to kill a vampire is that they should be decapitated, dismembered and burned. This does occur at the end of the movie although the actual shots of body parts being removed are cut away from quickly or blurred.
There are some sexual references, the worst being when Bella is walking alone and is suddenly surrounded by several men who threaten her. Edward rescues her and is angry that they were thinking ‘vile and repulsive things’ about Bella. She is later on the phone to her mother and when briefly talking about Edward, her mother asks whether she is ‘being safe’. Afterwards, Edward is in Bella’s room and following a short conversation, they kiss passionately and fall onto the bed (Bella is only wearing a T-shirt and underwear). Edward, who struggles to control himself around her, pulls away suddenly. They are then shown to spend the night talking and the scene ends with Bella asleep on Edward’s chest (both characters are clothed).
The obsession that Edward has for Bella is very dark. When she confirms that she knows he is a vampire, he tells her how he craves the taste of her blood like it is his ‘own personal brand of heroin’. In spite of this, Bella insists that she trusts Edward and simply knows that he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. The movie portrays this acceptance of a dangerous obsession as a good thing and therefore some guidance may be required for impressionable children who trust people easily.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Twilight’ has most certainly been aimed towards a teenage market for its target audience with its tale of forbidden love and misunderstood characters. Although there are some moments which may concern parents, the slow plot is unlikely to interest younger children and we would therefore not recommend it for them primarily for this reason. In terms of actual content we feel that ‘Twilight’ should be suitable for ages 10 and up.
- Violence: 3/5 (the violence towards Bella is quite intense and sustained at the end of the movie)
- Emotional Distress: 0/5
- Fear Factor: 2/5
- Sexual Content: 3/5
- Bad Language: 1/5 (some mild cursing and blasphemy)
- Dialogue: 3/5 (general vampire related dialogue including talk of eating humans, drinking animal blood and pulling a character apart and burning the body)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of love, obsession, protecting someone you care about and controlling the dark side of your personality.
Words by Laura Record