With an original story by Stephenie Meyer and the movie’s stars Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson, Twilight’s Breaking Dawn part 2 opens in theaters today. One of the most anticipated films of the year, this December 2011 release features the final chapters of the blockbuster series, which concluded with the blockbuster-worthy wedding of Bella and Edward.

The Hollywood couple released three teasers to promote the movie. The latest of these teasers comes at the end of an interesting video essay from Vanity Fair’s website, which dissects the series through the eyes of Hollywood insiders. The video essay includes interviews with cast and crew, as well as analysis from celebrities and experts on the cast’s relationships, including Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson’s marriage to a fan favorite, the wolf pack, and the many changes they went through to get to the altar.

The Wedding Of Edward And Bella

Breaking Dawn part 2 begins with Bella and Edward’s wedding day. Set to the strains of U2’s beautiful song, “All of This And More,” the wedding is a celebration of love and commitment. The song represents the arc of their relationship from indifference to affection to passion and finally, to wedlock. During the ceremony, we see a series of emotional trombones from the happy couple’s guests. After the ceremony, Edward and Bella share a kiss before heading to their reception. The dance floor empties as the newlyweds celebrate with their guests.

The First Meeting

Edward Cullen watches as Bella walks down the aisle towards him. The scene is suitably romantic, reminiscent of classic Hollywood films. However, the actor portraying Edward isn’t a Hollywood veteran — he’s newcomer Joe Cole. Cole’s acting resume is relatively unmemorable, but he brings a charming naturalness to the role. We soon learn that this is a trait he shares with Edward, who is described by Bella as “the most wonderful man I’ve ever met.”

Bella isn’t the only one who admires Edward. We soon meet his brother, William, who expresses identical sentiments about his sibling. The actor portraying William, Charlie Bewley, is a veteran of British sitcoms like One Foot in the Grave and The Mighty Boosh. He brings a worldly charm to the role that perfectly matches the character’s description of Edward as the “anti-vampire” — he sees himself as “a walking contradiction.”

The Growth Of The Pack

As the months pass, Bella’s vampire family grows closer as a result of their shared blood. We meet the Volturi, the ancient Italian royalty who rule over vampires. The leader of the Volturi, Domenico (Kevin Zegers), is described by the Vanity Fair video essayist as a “cruel, slimy fish wrapped in a spider’s web of greed and ambition.” He’s interested in Bella because of her connection to the werewolves. However, he sees her as a valuable asset. The only way he can possess her is to win her over — he forces her to choose between him and her friends. Although Bella remains loyal to her friends, she eventually caves under Domenico’s relentless pursuit. He forces her to accept his “condition” — if she refuses, he’ll turn her family against her.

Bella’s “family” becomes increasingly dominated by her need to protect her baby from werewolves. In one poignant scene, Bella tries to shield her newborn child from a hungry pack of werewolves by hiding them in a baby carriage. Unfortunately, her plan backfires — Aggie (Tatiana Maslany), one of the werewolves, catches sight of the trembling infant in the carriage. The baby’s cry draws in the rest of the pack, who encircle and attack the car. The scene is a heart-wrenching coda to the movie, foreshadowing the tragedy that awaits Bella and her baby when the Volturi finally catch up with them.

The Final Battle

The final battle between Bella and Edward is the most exciting chapter of the epic — and not just because we know how it ends (or at least, how it should end). The confrontation takes place on the rooftop of an apartment building. As in the previous chapter, the fight is intense. During their struggle, we see a vision of their future. In this vision, Bella and Edward are shown in a loving embrace. This causes Bella to temporarily weaken. Edward takes the opportunity to plunge his stake through her heart. As she dies, she gives birth to her and Edward’s twins, Renesmee and Jacob. Moments later, the werewolves emerge victorious, proclaiming that Bella was “the best of the best.”

This epic struggle has been a long time coming. We’ve had to wait almost a year for the final showdown, and at this point, most of us are pretty stoked to see it. The anticipation is perfectly matched by the film’s epic action, sumptuous visuals, and haunting score. While some will find the movie’s finale a letdown, for others, it’ll be the culmination of a lifelong dream.

The Wedding Of Team Edward And Team Bella

The finale of this year’s Twilight series is a fitting end to what has been a remarkable four-year journey. In a video essay for MTV News, director Catherine Hardwicke shares her thoughts on the milestone: “There is a lot to be proud of in Breaking Dawn, and there is a lot to celebrate, especially since it’s the final chapter of a very beautiful story.”

While we’re happy that the series finale ends on a high note, it leaves us with more questions than it answers. The biggest question, of course, is whether or not Bella really is human. In one of the series’ most tantalizing mysteries, she’s been transformed by her time in animal form, but she still possesses all her memories and her spark of humanity. We won’t truly know whether or not she’s part-vampire until the next installment of Twilight — Breaking Dawn part 2 — hits theaters in December 2011.