I saw Eclipse today. Well not that one but hooray for it being on the same day. Maybe it means something really life changing or that I need to go to Easter Island and do some ghost hunting.
Eclipse is the third theatrical installment of the Twilight book series. Maybe you have heard of it? Little in recent memory has created such passion and love and hatred that wasn’t in the White House or from Alaska. I have not read the books. My sister, an avid Twilighter, did not take my gentle teasing about giant puppy Jacob running through the forest chanting “Kibbles n’ bits n’ bits” well. So in honor of sisterhood and the preservation of it, I will likely never read them. I do admire that first time writer Stephenie Meyer has created her own vampire and werewolf/shapeshifter mythology. Glittery vampires and telepathic puppies? Oh golly yes, and I said yes and I said yes. You have to have some affection for that kind of ambition and whimsy.
The movie starts with a new vampire being ‘born’ in fear and agony. Victoria, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, looks gorgeous as a vampire who like Napoleon has armies up her sleevies. But never-mind that. There is the vampire, puppy, and human love triangle to consider. You know it’s a fairy tale when Edward is begging Bella to marry him. It should be real, every girl should be valued to distraction. She says of marriage, “it’s only a piece of paper“, which threw me back into my childhood and Love American Style where I first heard that argument which was silly then and now to me. I’m vampiric in the matter, you marry someone because it means you love them, Edward is right. It’s all so simple but then there’s that darn puppy.
If you don’t read the books or have someone to fill in the gaps then the wolf clan seems slight and passed over. There’s a bitter lady wolf thwarted in love and a new young pup ready to howl that are touched upon lightly. I could be put off by this but seeing the previews before Eclipse I almost applaud the ambiguity of some of the characters. Can a movie just play something out? Does it have to take you by the hand? Tell the story then explain everything in case you missed the point they were trying to force down you throat? Like a comedian explaining a joke after you laughed already or didn’t laugh at all. We can filter and process and make up our own minds. Really. Now stop making movies and hideous TV shows.
This time we get some back story on the vampires that were little used and of course the Civil War soldier is the most interesting and ate people way back when. His experience comes in handy as Victoria’s army of hungry and hard to control vampires want to kill Bella and the good-hearted undead Cullens in an act of revenge. Rosalie’s story is rough and I do wish they had more of the bride vampire but it’s a bloodless sort of movie.
The great themes are love. Love that is eternal and love that builds a bridge between bats and puppies for a higher purpose. Good. Evil. Damnation. Our lower selves. The struggle of baseness and hopelessness of our weakness overtaking and destroying us. This is embodied in the presumed damned vampires that leads to the reason Edward doesn’t want to change Bella. Edward is only part demon lover in the tradition of Heathcliff. He is dark and obsessive and intense but does not have that violence in him or controls it. Edward and the Cullens are really about the control and tempering of power and that makes the already sexy vampire myth even more so and an easy win over the puppy. No matter how loyal.
Jacob is a fulfillment of an ancient mysticism that protects and uplifts his tribe. He’s a magical puppy. He is a temptation but never a real threat to the romance of Bella and Edward. Bella has natural and supernatural cold feet. Cleaving to a vampire is a major step for any young girl. Still the ‘I do’ is sealed and the date set because it is an answer to her own journey and a fulfillment of who she is and was always. And what is love if it is not finding yourself with and through another? Even if they happen to be the walking dead.
Angst, romance and vampire armies wind and weave to the fight. The best end is the beautiful and literal shattering of Victoria. There are the Volturi being Volturi too. The Cullens are victorious but not without cost-one half crushed puppy.
The scene on the mountain before the fight with Edward and Jacob in the tent with freezing Bella made me understand more of the appeal of this whole Twilight madness. These magical supernatural beings are so extraordinary. Between them they can change shape, have super strength and speed, glitter, and live forever. And they love this pretty ordinary girl who dresses like a lumberjack with a knit cap on her head. It’s the dream of the extraordinary loving the ordinary. The artfulness of it may be subjective but the attraction is undeniable. I thought it was good fun. And it hit upon the unitive desire to want to inspire wonder, love, devotion and be something worth everything to someone. The mating for life and afterlife with one person hearkens back to the point of forever and being with another. To paraphrase St. Teresa of Avila, the only kind of love that matters is the kind that lasts forever. Also the unusual extreme body heat of a shape-shifting puppy can save lives. Eclipse reaffirms what Charles Schultz knew all along, “Happiness is a warm puppy.”