Twilight has quietly slipped past its 10 year anniversary and in honour of this momentous event, a friend and I re-watched it. It was disconcerting that we could remember almost the entire script between us, such is the legacy of ‘tweenage’ obsession.
Much of the criticism directed at the film is justified, and I won’t seek to rehash it. I will argue though, that Twilight was also a victim of a culture that delights in tearing down whatever young girls like. Catherine Hardwicke’s direction is coolly gorgeous, a masterpiece of cinematography comprised of moody blues and shifting shadows, aerial shots of the Pacific Northwest along with its mist and epic pine trees.
She also captures with painful and tender accuracy the reality of adolescence. Unlike a lot of other teen dramas, Hardwicke’s characters actually seem to spend time in lessons. The sets – including the cloistered biology classroom, the tiny cafeteria, the rain blurring Forks, Washington – evoke that first crush feeling, the awful yet wonderful feeling of proximity. Another commendable feature is the score; painstakingly atmospheric with its throbbing bass guitar, rolling drums and violin, although I couldn’t suppress a smile at its ripples of the emo music scene.
In terms of the script, I found it far funnier than it gets credit for upon a re-watch – who could forget “it’s the fluorescence?” I think I took Twilight quite seriously at ten, because at that age, to be seventeen was impossibly mature, and it reflected my yearning for adolescence. As life reflects art, our courtship was quick and addictive. I burned through the film openings, the Paramore tracks, the branded t-shirts. Later, my relationship with it frayed, as the chauvinism and emotional abuse veiled within became apparent.
But there’s a reason that’s closer to home for the ‘Twihard’ backlash, and it’s been overlooked. Bella’s self-reverential importance causes annoyance especially because we are all just a little too aware how close a representation she is of ourselves at that age. Much like Romeo and Juliet, as referenced in New Moon, Twilight is a quintessential teen film if you realise what it’s about: obsession, not love. Obsession with others and obsession with yourself. I had intended to write something insightful about Twilight, something a little wry and just slightly scornful. Instead I sat back and enjoyed Edward waltzing into school in his Ray Bans to ‘Spotlight’ by Mutemath.
Looking back at Twilight, much like adolescence, there’s a fondness there that will never quite fade, but examining it too closely or critically just isn’t rewarding. For all its faults, the film reminds me of being young, naïve, and overenthusiastic.
After we watched it, my friend and I discussed how much we’d always longed to do a road trip in the Pacific Northwest, tour the landscape with which we’d felt such a connection all those years ago. We’ll probably never do it, but there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism.