With the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 on November 18th, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the movie adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-themed romance series and how they compare to the novels themselves. What follows is a brief analysis of the three most recent films and an overview of the fourth installment – The Twilight Saga: Eclipse – alongside with a few important things to keep in mind.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

In Meyer’s first novel, Twilight, one of the main characters is a werewolf named Edward. In the adaptation, we first meet the young man as he watches his co-worker Bella from afar. Initially uninterested in the beautiful woman, Edward is captivated by her glamour and charms her with his wit and good looks. After becoming fast friends, Bella suggests that the pair visit Alice, her friend, whose birthday is that very evening. At Alice’s family dinner party, Edward proposes to Bella and she accepts. The rest of the novel depicts the ups and downs of their relationship as they navigate the tribulations of being a couple, in particular, due to Bella’s dual nature. In the end, Bella is revealed to be a vampire, leading to one of the biggest shocks in literary history.

The movie adaption faithfully follows the narrative arc of the book, starting with a bang as Edward and Bella meet each other’s gaze for the first time and continuing on to explore their growing affection for one another. Set in the modern day, where vampires are no longer the villainous creatures from fairy tales, the movie still manages to evoke the early 1900s, when Bram Stoker’s Dracula was first published.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

In Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer took her time skipping over the four or five year gap between New Moon and Eclipse. The extra time gives the author the opportunity to develop the story even further, fleshing out the characters and adding new wrinkles to the proceedings. Set during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, a year after the death of Ferdinand, King of Spain, Eclipse depicts the tumultuous and politically-charged backdrop to the romantic intrigues that occupy the majority of the novel. The film adaptation of Eclipse is the only one of the series so far that diverges from the book, but only slightly. While Nick Frost’s John remains faithful to the novel’s main character, both his and Rosie’s arcs are altered in order to make them more interesting to the audience.

In the books, Eclipse is the sixth novel in the series, following the adventures of Bella and Edward after they return from their honeymoon. The movie version of Eclipse brings closure to the story as it depicts the couple’s wedding day. The film also features several iconic images from the book, including Edward’s soulless eyes as he gives his bride, Bella, away in marriage. In the books, you’ll find out that Eclipse was written some 37 years ago, meaning that Meyer’s foresight into vampire psychology is almost uncanny.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

Finally, we come to Breaking Dawn – Part 1, the first of the newly-formed Breaking Dawn trilogy. In this installment, Bella learns of her fate, finding out that she is going to have a child with Edward. The couple struggle with their new responsibilities as a family and must also deal with the looming threat of the Cullen family, who seek to destroy their newly-formed partnership. Set in the remote Canadian wilderness, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is the fifth book in the series and is therefore the longest of the bunch. It was published in 2008 and the movie is currently in post-production.

Key Lessons From The Twilight Saga

Overall, the Twilight Saga is a literary triumph. The story has been incredibly successful, not just because of the massive global audience that it has attracted, but because it is an example of a unique and successful adaptation. The books have been made into films that are not just movies but complete story arcs that contain everything from character development to rising action and epic climaxes. The fact that each installment is a standalone story means that new audiences can jump into the cinematic adventures of Bella and Edward and be entertained from beginning to end.

The series has been praised for its attention to detail, its vivid portrayals of period costume and setting, and its ambitious scope, which sees each movie reach well into its own world, expanding the universe of the fiction while still feeling like a natural continuation of the overall story.

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