Laura Byrne-Cristiano is a co-owner of The Twilight Lexicon, the longest continuously operating Twilight Saga fansite on the web. You can read her Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn column here on Movies.com every other Thursday.
Apologies to David Bowie for this week’s title, but there were -- as with any book-to-screen adaptation -- several differences between the book and what was portrayed on screen in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. Now, certainly no one expects every scene exactly as written in a novel to make it to the screen; inevitably things need to be condensed or left out all together. On the other hand, sometimes there is material that was never in the books to begin with that makes it onto the screen. The question is, given cuts, how effective is this new material when fans feel very protective of the original source?
The first major insertion of new material that leaps to mind in Breaking Dawn: Part 1 is the presence of Irina of the Denali Coven at Bella and Edward’s wedding. As every Twilight fan knows, Irina sets some major wheels into motion in the second half of the novel Breaking Dawn. Since the Denali Coven and their interaction with Laurent wasn’t focused on in New Moon, it left something of a gaping plot hole that had to be addressed. It was interesting to see screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and director Bill Condon handle this dilemma. They deftly had Irina react to Seth’s presence at the wedding, have a flashback to Laurent, establish Irina’s romantic ties to him, and then have Irina storm off. That’s a lot of material to cover in roughly ninety seconds of film time, but they managed it. By doing so, they set the plot for Breaking Dawn: Part 2 securely on course.
Every film needs comic relief.
Certainly given the heavy themes of Breaking Dawn: Part 1, comedy is needed to occasionally lighten the mood. One of the best moments of comic relief took place during the wedding reception with the inclusion of the wedding toasts. Double entendres from Emmett, allusions to weaponry by Charlie, and acerbic comments from Jessica provided a nice contrast to the touching speeches of Esme and Edward. It all provided a glimpse into what no doubt took place at the wedding, but wasn’t included in the novel’s pages. On the other hand, what was sorely missed was the banter between Rosalie and Jacob. According to Nikki Reed, who plays Rosalie, the material was shot. Hopefully it lands on the DVD.
Another notable difference was the concept that the wolfpack was surrounding the Cullen home to effectively starve them out. This lead to a further change where Jacob provided a diversion for the Cullen family; they escaped to hunt while Jacob had a simultaneous meeting with the wolfpack. The scene not only set up some interesting dialogue for Taylor Lautner, but it also provided an exciting chase sequence between the Cullens and the wolves. One of the criticisms of the novel Breaking Dawn when it first came out was that it lacked action. The extra tension added by writing in this material certainly provided an element of action not found in the novel, and at the same time showcased fan-favorite characters like Jacob and Emmett.
The two most notable changes causing frenzied online discussion occur at the end of the film. The battle between the Cullen and wolves once Renesmee is born is entirely new. In the novel, though things are tense, they never get to the level of an actual physical confrontation, let alone one with life or death stakes. When Bella awakens from her transformation, Edward simply tells her that Jacob had a discussion with Sam and things are now fine. Again, by adding in this scene, Rosenberg tacks on an extra level of drama, tension, and action to the story.
The last change might be called more of a point-of-view shift though, granted, it is new material. In the brief scene that you'll only see if you remain for the credits, Aro receives a phone message that Bella has been turned into a vampire. He makes it clear that the conflict with the Cullens is not over because Carlisle now has something he wants---Bella. Aro was interested in adding Bella, Edward, and Alice to his collection of talented vampires back in New Moon. Now that Bella is no longer human, he wants to have her. He banks on the fact that since she was an extraordinary human, she’d have an extraordinary vampire talent. This information is a glimpse into seeing what will drive the action of Breaking Dawn: Part 2. It sets up the idea that Irina arriving with information about Renesmee just provides the excuse Aro needs to confront the Cullens.
So checking out all of these changes that added material in, the question remains: Do fans support this material? Are they happy with it? Melissa Rosenberg has stated that her benchmark for satisfaction is Stephenie Meyer. With Meyer as a producer this time out she would have presumably been in a position to axe any unwanted material. It seems logical that she supported the changes.
What is your final vote on more material coming in? Is it a thumbs up, a thumbs down, or a mixed bag?
It’s 351 days until The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 comes to the screen for the franchise finale.