Friday, June 05, 2009

Twilight: Dissecting the Differences between the Book and the Movie

Yes, I know the writing is atrocious and the dialogue is stilted, but I’m hooked on the love, man, the love! Tuesday, when I was home sick, I pulled out my brand new DVD of Twilight and settled in to be swept away by what I think is the love story of the decade. On my second viewing, I definitely enjoyed the movie more than in the theaters and that may be in part because it had been a while since I read the novel. But then of course, watching the movie and then immediately getting on the Internet to watch trailers of New Moon stirred up the obsession within to read the series for a (ahem) third time. Resistance was futile and so while the boys swam, I grabbed my already getting well worn copy of Twilight and hunkered down to quickly read through the horrid opening chapters till I could get to the good stuff. By 11:00 last night when I forced myself to stop, I was already halfway through.

In reading the novel again so soon after viewing the movie, I was struck by all the small differences that actually give the movie a very different emotional tone than the book. In the novel, Bella is, by nature, very insecure, often shying away from crowds, hiding behind her hair and embarrassed by her often clumsiness. Within her insecurities, she is quick to anger and has a biting tongue and while it is often painful to read the conversations between Edward and Bella, it is also very relatable. Even though Bella is written as someone who is supposed to be years ahead of her peers, she actually encompasses the lack of self confidence that can plague humans throughout their lives. With this trait, Bella becomes someone with whom the average reader can sympathize.

Within Bella’s insecurities, the interaction between her and Edward is often halting. Each of the characters is unsure of how much they can reveal about their feelings for each other as well as their true personalities or characteristics. For example, Bella often comments on her ordinariness and wonders how a creature as perfect as Edward could have any interest in her. On the other hand, through conversations with Bella, the reader knows that Edward considers himself dangerous and capable of becoming a monster if he were to let his instincts take over. Although he never speaks of himself as beautiful, he does comment on the attraction his voice, face and smell have on his potential prey. The extreme differences portrayed by Bella and Edward lends to a tension that is palatable throughout the novel.

On the other hand, the screenwriter, director and actors had a difficult time portraying the intense range of emotions that each of the main characters displayed throughout the novel. Bella, in the movie, is shown as aloof, indie and definitely surer of herself. On the same token, Edward is hardly scary at all, and if he didn’t tell us he was a monster or mad, I’m not sure the audience would have known. There were not any scenes that I can recall where he is hesitant in winning Bella’s affections once the initial classroom scene is over. At the same time, I understand that it would be a struggle to portray such a range without dialogue. I guess I felt there were a few key conversations within the novel that may have added to the story if they were translated on the big screen.

Ok, that’s as far as I can go with this without feeling like a total dork. Obviously, I am feeling the nine (!!) years it has been since I graduated from college and wrote a term paper. Maybe it’s reading about teenagers that has me longing for simpler times. Anyone feel free to nerd it out with me and leave a comment.


SuZ said...

I was listening to the soundtrack last night and had the urge to read the books and watch the movie. Such a dork, I know.

But you know you're not alone, you'll never be alone. :)

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