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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Appeal of Twilight

Suzanne sent me this great Q&A from Time magazine with Catherine Hardwicke, from back in 2008. I followed some links on the page to other Twilight content and read this terrific essay "Mother-Daughter Obsession" which included this excellent description of the appeal of the book:

Much has been made of these stories as abstinence parables for a new age; Edward would like nothing more than to sweep Bella off her feet, and she'd love to be swept, but anything beyond first base could cost her her life, if not her immortal soul. So he climbs into her window at night and holds her as she falls asleep, and protects her from the various other fiends who for reasons not worth explaining are looking to kill her. It's possible, as many commentators have suggested, that the chivalrous Edward is a teenage girl's dream date: not just sophisticated and powerful but tender and soulful, he's the 100-Year-Old Virgin, able to wait a century till he finds his soulmate, his conscience a constant chaperone that keeps things from getting out of hand. As my colleague Lev Grossman put it, "It's never quite clear whether Edward wants to sleep with Bella or rip her throat out or both, but he wants something, and he wants it bad, and you feel it all the more because he never gets it. That's the power of the Twilight books: they're squeaky, geeky clean on the surface, but right below it, they are absolutely, deliciously filthy."

And this, which I think is exactly right, from the Richard Corliss review of the original movie in the same magazine:

Twilight also observes movie laws as aged as Edward, who was initiated into the realm of the undead in 1918. Defiantly old-fashioned, the film wants viewers to believe not so much in vampires as in the existence of an anachronistic movie notion: a love that is convulsive and ennobling. Bella could be any Hollywood heroine in love with a good boy whom society callously misunderstands. She's Natalie Wood to Edward's James Dean (in Rebel Without a Cause) or Richard Beymer (in West Side Story). Cathy, meet Heathcliff. Juliet, Romeo.

This brand of fervid romance packed 'em in for the first 60 years of feature films, then went nearly extinct, replaced by the young-male fetishes of space toys and body-function humor. Twilight says to heck with that. It jettisons facetiousness for a liturgical solemnity, and hardware for soft lips. It revives the precept that there's nothing more cinematic than a close-up of two beautiful people about to kiss. The movie's core demographic is so young, its members may not know how uncool this tendency has become. But for them, uncool is hot. And seeing Twilight is less a trip to the multiplex than a pilgrimage to the Lourdes of puberty. It's the girls' first blast of movie estrogen.



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