In 2008, when Stephenie Meyer’s popular young-adult fiction Twilight was adapted into Catherine Hardwicke’s eponymous film, people had already anticipated a considerable uproar. Starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner in prominent roles besides a vast ensemble, the film, which is now streaming on Netflix, helped the stars rise to fame and brought about an innate interest in vampirism besides introducing various Biblical themes, including that of fate and free will.
Twilight enthusiasts are already familiar with the story, but it is important to recap a little to understand how the entire theme is relevant in the franchise. A pale and awkward Isabella’ Bella’ Swan moves to Forks to live with her father before she encounters Edward Cullen and his coven of vegetarian vampires. Teenage Bella is caught between whether she should choose the vampire over her best friend who is a werewolf aka Jacob Black, the guy who is in love with her. The five films of the franchise follow the trajectory of the books and see the characters go through various events that finally lead up to a vampire civil war, following Bella and Edward’s marriage and the birth of their daughter.
However, the first film of the franchise revolves around the duo falling in love despite initial inhibitions, obstacles and prejudices. Bella is totally in contrast with other female protagonists in young adult book-to-film franchises. Take Hunger Games, for instance. Katniss Everdeen is strong-willed and spirited, while Bella is shown as a weak character whose agency is overwhelmingly overtaken by her stalker boyfriend. However, Meyer and Hardwicke, in turn, give back agency to her by allowing her to make a choice regarding turning into a vampire.
Ever since Bella and Edward’s unusual and doomed romance began, Bella knew that she would eventually have to turn into a cold-blooded undead being to stop ageing and be with her beloved forever. While Edward’s psychic vampire sister Alice, who had the ability to look into the future, always predicted Bella’s fate, indicating her to turn into a vampire, it bottled down to Bella making the final choice. Even her desire to love Edward despite the initial resistance and warnings help her establish her power to choose what she wants. While it is debatable whether she derives adrenaline rush from her tendency to sway towards all things dangerous, the film empowers Bella and allows her to make a choice irrespective of the influences around her.
Kristen Stewart, who played Swan, was not very fond of her role when she first heard about it. She found it “shallow” and “vain”. She later defended her character and said, “It was almost as if I was ashamed to be doing these films. Quite the opposite. This is a challenging and great role, and I’m so in awe of the writing and the novels.” “Protective” of her character, Stewart recognises the power dynamics at play and champions her character.
Watch Twilight on Netflix now.