For what it's worth, I read and blogged the novel a few months ago (and it spawned a great conversation with Ken Brown, who blogged the film at C. Orthodoxy) but it wasn't until recently that I saw the film, which I'm sorry to say, I found disappointing. While I had mixed feelings about the novel, I had a good time reading it. The film, on the other hand, seemed so much more shallow. Perhaps that's because the novel is written in first person and much of it has to do with Bella's emotions and thoughts, which would be difficult to translate on film. Or perhaps I just read the novel too close to seeing the film, which left me feeling like it was missing something.
But perhaps the biggest reason I was disappointed is because the film is missing some key elements that I appreciate about the novel. While the novel isn't rich in God-talk, it does have some interesting scenes and dialouge relating to God and faith--in particular Dr. Carlisle Cullen's own story about becoming a vampire. In addition, a large wooden cross is featured prominately in the Cullen house (related to Carlisle's turning), and in the film we only briefly see it lying sideways on the stairs.
But the part I missed the most was the absence of Edward Cullen's often quoted words about choice in his response to Bella’s question of why he and his family have chosen not to feed on humans:
He hesitated before answering. “That’s a good question, and you are not the first one to ask it. The others—the majority of our kind who are quite content with our lot—they, too, wonder at how we live. But you see, just because we’ve been . . . dealt a certain hand . . . it doesn’t mean that we can’t choose to rise above—to conquer the boundaries of a destiny that none of us wanted. To try to retain whatever essential humanity we can.”As I mentioned in my post about the novel, this is a very human struggle being voiced by a vampire—which is one example of many of how the novel uses both human and vampire characters to explore what it means to be human, why we make the choices we do, and the consequences inherent in the paths we walk, both good and evil--and that nudges it into the category of good stories.
The film isn't without its better moments, however. I really enjoyed the baseball scene (and I'm glad the filmmakers included it). And, while it was a bit heavy handed, I liked the moment when Bella and Edward (who are running from the bad vampires) drive by Bella's friends, who are laughing and smiling and oblivious to the dangerous world that surrounds them, one that Bella and Edward are all too aware of. It enhanced the longing in the novel by both Edward (to live a normal life) and Bella (who longs to live her life freely with Edward).
New Moon, the second in the novel series, is currently being made on film--and, even though I found this film disappointing, I'm finding myself thinking about reading that novel as well. And if I do that, it's likely I'll see the film, too.
(Image: The Movie Blog)