The Good, the Bad, and the Golden: Elizabeth’s Movie Thoughts on Eclipse

by Elizabeth on July 5, 2010

This past Saturday, I collected two of my prize pupils and fellow Twilight deep-thinkers Autumn and Sarah Jane (who both lurk here regularly, but need to post, hint, hint), and we went to see Eclipse. We had a wonderful experience and enjoyed talking about the film afterward, so I’ll be including some of their insights and observations in my thoughts on the movie. Of course, we can’t cover every angle, but we’ll hit some high spots. As we like the deep waters here, I thought we’d start with some of the richer elements, then move on to more superficial issues. Deeper meaning: We’ve discussed at great length here all the mirroring of the Saga, and Eclipse, with a chapter entitled “Mirror” really hits that area. Bree Tanner, the mirror novella, was used in the film, and came out just a few weeks back. I liked several of the mirror elements of the movie, specifically having Bella dream of Jasper’s past with Maria morphing into Victoria so that Bella understood the manipulation of Riley; close ups of Riley’s hand on Bella’s dreamcatcher, then Edward’s hand there as he caught the scent; and having Jacob and Seth dressed alike in the  bonfire scene.

I also really liked the initial Victoria attack with the Cullens and wolfpack mirroring each other on either side of the river, accentuating the similarity between Emmett and Paul ( as many of the pack members reflect the Cullens, i.e. Rosalie/Leah) who also have a great “dude” moment of buddy-ship in the big fight finale. My companions and I also discussed at great length the Bree mirror and whether Bella, with an easier life, has necessarily easier choices, or that her choices are less valid because she has more going for her from the start.

We thought not, and we liked the choice speech at graduation (though what school would have that airhead Jessica as a valedictorian, I don’t know; the Cullens must really be holding back in class).  We liked the quilt of old vacation t-shirts Renee makes for Bella, a great symbol of what she’s giving up, as well as some nice Renesmee foreshadowing, but how did they go on vacation to Maine when Bella never went further west than Albuquerque?

Plot: The story remained very much intact from the novel, much to our admiration, but there were a few notable changes that caught our attention. Of course, since a film can show everyone, and in the book we must stick with narrator Bella,  the movie allows us to see what the newborns are doing, and, in fact, starts with Riley’s transformation. As Sharon mentioned on our earlier thread, Riley is specifically described as being from Forks, a sound basis for Victoria’s choosing him and sending him to Bella’s house.

Thanks to Bree Tanner, only a few viewers will be surprised at the Volturi’s knowledge of Victoria’s actions, as they observe the carnage in Seattle.  We were also pleasantly surprised at how much dialogue was straight from the text, including the uncomfortable “Facts of Life” conversation with Charlie. That, and Edward’s focus on chastity both remain, surprising, really, from Hollywood.

One of the most interesting adjustments from the text comes in the big campsite showdown. In the book, Bella’s attempted Third Wife moment is really just symbolic, as Edward has Victoria in hand and Seth is only feigning injury. In the film, Seth is out cold and Edward is about to be ripped apart by Victoria and Riley when Bella gouges her arm, distracts them, and lets the good guys do their thing.

My colleagues and I pondered the implications of this change. Is it more of screenwriter Rosenberg’s efforts to inject more feminism into the stories? Or, as I think, does it foreshadow Bella’s role as savior in Breaking Dawn? It certainly added to the emotional power of the scene, and, from a cinematic point of view, worked better than if she had been mistaken about the need to go to such measures.

We were bothered, though, by the removal of all the great Wuthering Heights references. While Bella reads from Frost’s “Fire and Ice” at the beginning, Bronte’s classic doesn’t even show up in Bella’s book bag, unless I missed it in a quick shot, certainly no lingering focus as with  her copy of Romeo and Juliet in New Moon. Even the great “throwing wide the window” scene, so evocative of ghost Cathy scratching on the glass, wasn’t there.

Character: Hoo-ray, Jasper finally got to be something other than a menace. The nice young man who plays this part really tries hard, but he’s never seemed physically right for the part. He really stepped up to the plate this time around, getting to use his lovely accent (though sometimes, when he was making announcements about battle plans, I was unpleasantly reminded of the comical Gen. Custer in the second Night at the Museum movie!) and getting some nice moments of romance with Alice, but, for some odd reason, the film folks decided to make him a major in the cavalry, rather than in the infantry (Meyer does not specify his branch or regiment, but I wish she had; it would have made my Twilight and History research easier!).

Perhaps they think movie goers assume any CSA guy on a horse has to be cavalry (and has to wear the stereotypical uniform), but of course, infantry officers were mounted, too. Making him infantry might have excused his riding, at which Autumn, accomplished equestrienne, scoffed. A number of infantry officers, among them “Stonewall” Jackson, were lousy riders. He was nice and dirty in the past, something I always appreciate in historical scenes, and I loved that Maria took to wearing his filthy greatcoat.

Of course, she needed to cover up, as the costume people put her, Nettie, and Lucy in their dainties, corsets out and all, for the world to see. I think Jasper may have just gotten off the horse to point them in the direction of Miss Kitty’s place, where ladies dressed like that would be employed! J I did like the scenes with his army very much (again, everyone was dirty) though I would like to have seen the diner scene with Alice.

Also in the past, I appreciated the tasteful editing done with Rosalie’s scene, but I really would have loved to have seen more of her as the avenging bride! She looked amazing, and it was just too short. The Quileute story scene was also excellent, I thought, edited nicely for pacing, but getting in all the important details. All three of us were impressed with the believability of Edward and Bella’s relationship this time around. We also really liked Victoria’s voice, just cotton candy enough to really make her scary! Autumn and Sarah Jane disagreed on who is the scarier of the two Victorias, though.

Film making: The fight scenes were amazing, and the make up is much, much better. A couple of scenes used that “shaky camera” style that I don’t much care for, and I would like to have heard more of that wonderful soundtrack actually used in the film.

Audience: We chose our time well, as we went to the 10:45 show, and there were very few of the screaming and whooping age demographic present, and despite the usual expectations, and  I only saw a couple of discreet Team buttons.  Autumn had gone to the big triple feature with the midnight showing last week, so she was intrigued by the differing audiences. She noticed that the audiences changed during the three films, with a large contingent of male viewers for Eclipse, more than just the random single guys who show up at these movies hoping to meet lonely women who are emotionally vulnerable.

Overall, we were pleased with the film though we still just think of movies as a nice side dish for the books, never a replacement for the real entrée!   We also look forward to hearing others’ feedback once you get over the movie theatre snack sugar crash!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

maggiemay July 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I can’t believe this is the first comment here! Maybe we don’t like to admit that we like movies? Is it some sort of academic pride? I don’t know why but I was patting myself on the back that I waited over 2 weeks to see the film, but have to admit it was the best one yet! Thanks, Elizabeth for the great observations! Concerning Rosalie, the actress seemed anorexic compared to Twilight #1. I was convinced it wasn’t even the same actress, until I checked the credits. She was so vibrant and hale(!) and now looks wan and pale.

Jenna St. Hilaire (LibraryLily) July 23, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Between waiting for the lines to clear a little and relatives visiting from Florida, I just got to see the movie last night! Excellent, excellent review, Elizabeth (and friends). I love the historical notes and the mirror symbolism (all of those reflections really jump out at me now that I think back.)

I got a kick out of that awkward conversation between Bella and Charlie, and was grateful to see Edward’s motives for marrying kept in translation. If anything, his chastity was emphasized more, as he doesn’t cave at the end of the movie when Bella finally gets it.

I think I actually preferred this Victoria over the other, but appreciated the fact that the change of actress wasn’t mind-numbingly obvious. If I hadn’t known, I don’t have a good memory for faces and might not have noticed.

It is a bit weird that Wuthering Heights got so completely left out. The only good reason I can find for that is how much they had to fit in–and that is, I think, understandable. I’m just glad they were so faithful to the story and characters. That makes such a difference. Hey, Warner Brothers, you should take notes for the Potter movies! *sigh*

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