Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Song of Solomon 8:6
I am not the best person to review this third in the teen vampire/werewolf series, attending this screening because it was free and I knew it would be popular. Thus many of the allusions to the past two films es caped me until I read more about the books. The series is about the somewhat chaste love affair between the luscious Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and heartthrob Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). The love story becomes a triangle when Mr. Workout (we can tell because he is usually shirtless) Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) provides warmth to the freezing Bella by holding her body close to his during the frigid night when they are in a tent up in the mountains. You see, Edward cannot provide any warmth because he is a vampire, already dead yet living, whereas Jacob is a shape-shifting werewolf with lots and lots of blood coursing through his manly veins. The next morning Bella finds herself drawn to Jacob and yet still loving Edward.
The three have fled into the mountains because a pack of new vampires are on their way to the village to kill the three. Over in Seattle the red-haired vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) has been biting teenagers and changing them into new vampires possessing great strength, her intention being to avenge herself for the death of her lover in a previous episode. Rivals Edward and Jacob have entered into a shaky alliance in order to protect Bella from Victoria. Soon, of course, there is a computer-enhanced climatic battle, with Wolves from Jacob’s clan joining in the battle.
The screening audience, a majority of which were teenaged girls, loved the film, with them apparently divided into two factions—one adoring Edward, and the other Jacob. We can see why Bella is conflicted, and why the girls love this fantasy so. What average young girl doesn’t dream of being loved by two handsome and strong male hulks? To its credit the filmmakers have a sense of humor: everyone laughed loudly when Edward and Bella, coming up to Jacob, blurted out, “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” Or, during the aforementioned warming of Bella’s body when Jacob tells Edward, the latter not all liking the idea of his girl cuddling up to his rival, that he is the hotter of the two. Also it is easy to empathize with Bella because of the hard choice she must make, in order to marry Edward she will have to submit to the bite that will both kill her and turn her into a vampire so that she can mate with him. (I am not sure how Edward stays strong and healthy because I do not recall him killing and drinking the blood of anyone.)
I am still intrigued by the mirror-like opposites in the vampire genre to that of Christianity: Vampires take blood from victims: Christ gives his blood for followers. Vampires feed off humanity: Believers “feed” off Christ in the Eucharist. Vampires bring fear and death: Christ brings love and life (eternal). Maybe it is this that continues to fascinate so many. It also helps when a skilful author like Stephanie Meyer can bring a new twist to an old genre by injecting the angst of teen love. The love story is so operatic that I almost expected the principals to break out in a soaring trio.
1. Why do you think people are drawn to vampire stories? What are the accepted hallmarks of the vampire genre? What does this series add to or change in them?
2. How are the opposites in Edward and Jacob brought out by use of Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice” ? To see the text go to www.poemhunter.com/poem/fire-and-ice/ 3. If you were Bella, would you choose Edward or Jacob? What are the pros and cons of each? How would Bella have to adjust were she to choose one or the other?
4. Where do you see sacrificial love in the story?
5. This is a supernatural tale: do you see any affinities to Christianity? In the vampire (and horror) genre do you think that the underlying worldview of Good vs. Evil is closer to the Christian or the Manichean view? (Manichaean being that the conflict is an eternal one, whereas the Christian worldview that the battle against evil was won at the Cross and will be consummated at a future time when Christ returns and vanquishes forever the forces of Evil.)