New Moon: Making Sense of Bella’s Inner Life
Well, I’m hoping by now you’ve managed to see New Moon – I can’t wait to hear what you thought!
So let me preface all of this by saying that I really do love the Twilight series. They’re fun and dumb and just a good laugh; escapism at its best. And as we’ve noted in previous conversations, they’re doing something pretty interesting with teen sexuality that goes beyond a simple message of ‘true love waits’. In fact, they’re even doing something more interesting with gender roles than some of the ranting against Bella’s pathetic neediness indicates at first glance. But we can come back to those over-discussed topics later perhaps? Because I’ve got some other thoughts to get out first.
The first thing that really struck me in this film was how it sought to clarify or expand on, or make less irritating a central, irritating theme from the book. To be honest, Bella annoyed the piss out of me when I read New Moon, and largely because all her angsty, nightmare-screaming, weepy weakness was always attached to Edward and, in a few moments, to Jacob. In other words, she flitted between from boy to boy – sorry, vampire to werewolf – and back again with her world utterly destroyed by the actions of each.
Now, I’m not complaining about the flitting; I actually find the ‘two loves’ storyline to be one of the more interesting ones in the whole series. My complaint, rather, is against this needy over-attachment to these boys in the first place. I mean, after sobbing and nearly giving up life over Edward, and then feeling something quite similar with Jacob and then flitting back to Ed again, wouldn’t it occur to Bella to get a hobby (for the sake of the hobby itself rather than for the Edward-vision-producing danger it invoked), or bolster her friendships (again, for their own purpose, not for the cover to her Edward-desire that the shopping date with Jessica and then the movie date with Mike and Jacob function as)…or at least just realize that boys are going to come and go and that she needs to suck it up a little because it’s not the end of the world when they do go? The whole ‘end of the world’ over-reaction she does every time gets to be too much for me. And yes, it was annoying in the film – but the movie also buffered it a little.
Here’s what I mean – much more so with the film, I get the sense that her insane nightmares, and even much of her daytime angst isn’t only about Edward (or even Jacob). Rather, it actually reflects the intense overhaul of her own sense of reality that she’s going through.
She’s discovered that there are dangerous, magical creatures in this world; some of whom want to make sweet love to her, some of whom want to kill her, and quite a few who want both. Her almost total nervous or psychological breakdown seems to be a complete over-reaction to lost love in the book; but in the movie, with this added layer, it begins to make more sense. I’d probably lose my shit too if I discovered that vampires and werewolves and God knows what else were real, around me constantly, and had real and serious intentions regarding my own existence. Sure, it’s stupid that she’d lie in the forest with supposedly dangerous bears roaming around killing hikers just because Edward broke up with her. But it makes more sense when set in the context of a total life overhaul where up is no longer up, down is longer down, and even death itself doesn’t seem to be final.
Kristen Stewart continues to annoy me as an actress. Seriously – the tuck her hair behind her ear and look bewildered while breathing rapidly needs to stop! As I mentioned in our recent Vampire Diaries post, there’s a scene where Emily, the werewolf girl – which is what Bella calls her, while Emily calls Bella the vampire girl; get it? it’s funny because the two girls are defined by the men-monsters in their lives rather than their own identities and they both know it…funny right? ha ha – anyway, Emily offers Bella some muffins and Bella almost has a panic attack. Despite that, though, I liked how Bella’s world, life, psyche, etc., seemed appropriately disrupted by the presence of monsters in the film rather than seemingly only by the coming of Edward, as the book indicates.
I am curious to know what you thought of the aesthetics of the film. I think I’m one of the few who really enjoyed the weird look of the first one – it felt like a loud cross between a music video and a car commercial, shot in ways that highlighted colour in somewhat ethereal ways. I missed that aesthetic in this one (which, as we know, had a new director). I really didn’t find much to be visually compelling in New Moon besides, I suppose, all those red capes (um, does the village only have one cape-maker with an awesome monopoly on the St. Marco day costumes? Because it didn’t look like anyone in that crowd was picking their capes up from K-mart). But outside of that and the cool design of the Cullens’ house, I have to say I was a little aesthetically disappointed in the whole thing.
Which leads me to my one final thought before I turn it over to you, though – aren’t vampires supposed to be insanely sexy and amazing dressers? And isn’t Alice supposed to be cutest one who is most captivated by and in love with high fashion? So why on earth did she look like she’d borrowed her grandmother’s sweater when she went to stand before the Volturri in Italy? Those red gloves were fabulous, but absolutely in no way matched the weird jacket or decorative, old lady scarf. For a sexy fashion forward vampire movie, this film could not have disappointed me more in terms of clothing, accessories and crush-worthy characters.
Although, I certainly heard some disagreements to that latter complaint in my gathered audience the morning I went to see it. Made up of predominantly middle-aged white women, our theatre was filled with ladies giddy to return to their own teenage fantasies. When Jacob first removed his shirt, one woman gasped so audibly and with such a strange tremor to her voice, that the whole theatre burst out laughing for so long we missed the remainder of the scene.
It seems that while a 16 year old seems much too young for me to have my 31 year old eyes linger on, the 50something year old ladies in the crowd had no such compunction!
Ok, let me know what you thought!