Film Review: The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn (Part 1)

(Written for Lost In The Multiplex and published in Issue 4 of In Retrospect)

Directed by Bill Condon, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is the first part to the final instalment of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight Saga novels.

The first part of Breaking Dawn follows Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her now vampire fiancé Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) through their marriage and honeymoon to the life-threatening consequence of Bella falling pregnant. Now, with the Volturi coven waiting for Bella to be turned immortal and the Quileute werewolf pack keeping guard, Bella must prepare to say goodbye to the ones she loves as she weakens from the blood-sucking baby inside of her.


Whilst this is the most love-struck chapter yet, Breaking Dawn is also the scariest, sexiest and most violent novel out of the franchise. As a fan of the books, I was really worried about how this adaptation would work on the big screen. I’ve grown tired of trying to explain to ‘Twi-haters’ that the novels are much better than the film, because, let’s face it, why would anyone take my word for it? Personally, I feel that Breaking Dawn is the worst novel out of the series as well. The book is set out differently from the other three, looking at the situation from Jacob’s point of view as well, which was a small positive. However, I read the book within hours and felt there wasn’t enough of anything to keep an audience engaged, especially with the first half that is the focus of the film.

I read a lot of reviews beforehand that said the film was very melodramatic, which was completely what I expected with the main storyline revolving around marriage and babies. There is already a huge dislike against the franchise if you’re not a 14-year-old girl, even my synopsis above doesn’t do it any favours. However, I didn’t feel this way at all. In fact, the film was a very good adaptation of the novel and it worked a lot better on-screen then I imagined it could. This is because of one reason; it wasn’t tamed down for a PG audience.

Twilight was a great adaptation, but New Moon and Eclipse fell short because they began to put their focus on the younger audience, as they knew this is where a majority of the audience was coming from. This was my main concern for Breaking Dawn, thinking the adaptation would surely miss out the sexual scenes and romanticise the birth scene which, in fact, was quite brutal.

Fortunately, the film didn’t go this way and it did, in fact, included the sex, with a large emphasis on Bella’s lust for it. It also put a focus on the threat of Bella dying, emphasising the violent and terrifying nature of Bella giving birth to a child that would have happily sucked her blood dry. It even scared me a little, especially the way Bella seemed to look like a skeleton for most of the film. Whilst this put a dampener on the film’s love-filled setting, it was what was needed for it to be a bearable film out of the Twilight Saga context. It worked well as a stand-alone film and would have even worked as a great end to the franchise.

You can buy The Twilight Saga boxset on DVD here

The only part of the film which was badly adapted was the wolf pack scene. If you’ve seen the film you will know what I am talking about straight away. If not, there is a scene in the film which explores the inclusion of the werewolf tribe communicating telepathically. Somehow the werewolves sounded like Transformers, and it was far too laughable to take seriously.

There were reasons to laugh that wasn’t out of disapproval as well, though. Bella’s father Charlie (Billy Burke) has been the main source of ‘comedy’ throughout the franchise, which is great because he is one of the more relatable characters, not liking Edward. His sarcastic comments made the film easier for non-fans to watch, breaking away from the focus of Bella and Edward to give more of a believable reaction to their human-vampire relationship (not that he knows, yet!).

The rest of the cast, also, were at their best in this instalment. Kristen Stewart, when not looking like a sack of bones, smiled more than usual, Robert Pattinson gave a much stronger performance having to stand against Bella at one point in fear of losing her. Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) had a better role in this instalment as well, and one that didn’t involve him having to take his top off every five minutes. It was obvious that Lautner had a lot more experience in acting since Eclipse too, which paid off quite a lot for him.

In the end, Breaking Dawn managed to be my favourite adaptation since the franchise began with Twilight in 2008, even if the plot doesn’t seem like the most appealing of stories. And now I’m more excited for the film’s final chapter, Breaking Dawn – Part 2, which is set to be released next year. Have I managed to persuade any Twi-haters to give it a try yet?

2 thoughts on “Film Review: The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn (Part 1)

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  1. I totally agree, I think it was the best movie of the series, an 8/10 on the Twilight scale (because you can’t really compare them to other movies… it wouldn’t be fair!). I was actually dreading this one, thinking the birth would be really cheesey but I think they did a great job. Now, instead of only half heartedly waiting for the final movie, I’m actually excited about it.


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