In just a few short years, Twilight has become one of the world’s biggest movie franchises. Its appeal crosses all boundaries and generations.
It was originally based on a popular young adult novel, which in turn was inspired by J.M.W. Turner’s paintings of England’s historic landscape. However, it is the phenomenal success of its four films that have made it the global phenomenon it is today.
Each instalment has become a significant cultural milestone, grossing hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office around the world. It’s fair to say that the world now knows what it’s like to be a vampire.
The series has established itself as one of the most influential and iconic film franchises of all time, and it’s not hard to see why. Its combination of romance, drama, comedy, and horror has ensured that it continues to entertain fans and new generations alike.
It’s not just about vampires any more. The franchise has grown to include werewolves as well, allowing film-makers to play with nature and the human condition in a way that has fascinated and terrified audiences alike.
The films also feature some incredible and famous cameos, not to mention hundreds of thousands of fans who travel around the world to see them. It’s safe to say that Twilight has established a unique place in pop culture history.
Perhaps what’s most extraordinary is the way that Twilight has stuck around in popular culture. It didn’t just break the mold of what a movie franchise should be – it shattered it. No other series has been able to replicate its phenomenal success, and it’s hard to put into words just how influential the Twilight films have been.
It’s not just about vampires any more. The franchise has grown to include werewolves as well, allowing film-makers to play with nature and the human condition in a way that has fascinated and terrified audiences alike. Perhaps the most famous and iconic scene in Twilight is the transformation sequence, where a young woman changes into a wolf for the first time in front of the camera.
This scene – and the werewolf itself – became an instant global symbol of the series, and it’s not hard to see why. Vampires and werewolves have always had a special place in horror culture, and it seems that audiences are finally interested in exploring this fascinating aspect of human nature in greater detail.
It’s fair to say that the world now knows what it’s like to be a vampire. The phenomenon that is Twilight continues to this day, with its films consistently topping the worldwide box office charts and repeatedly appearing on best-of lists across the world.
The four Twilight films have been nominated for and won countless awards, including ten Academy Awards, more than a dozen Golden Globes, and three BAFTAs. It is certainly one of the greatest series of all time. Although the films are now fifteen years old, they still hold up incredibly well, especially considering how many years have passed.
The recent Twilight Saga: Eclipse was a bit of a disappointment when it came to critics’ and audiences’ reception. The first in the series to be made available for home video, it was panned by many as being the slowest and least interesting instalment yet. Still, this didn’t stop it from becoming the third highest-grossing film of all time, with more than $400 million worldwide.
The Evolution Of Vampires And Werewolves
The world of vampires and werewolves in Twilight is not one that we’re often treated to in a mainstream film. It’s usually reserved for genre films or indie flicks, where the characters are oftentimes seen as caricatures or one-dimensional stereotypes.
The world of Twilight is refreshingly multi-dimensional, and it’s this that has made the series so appealing. It challenges our ideas of what vampires and werewolves should look like, and, as a result, it forces us to reconsider what we know about these creatures.
Bloodsucking fiends have been a part of popular culture for longer than cinema itself has existed. Literature, painting, and music have all explored this dark aspect of human nature, and Twilight is simply continuing this rich tradition of bloodcresssed storytelling. It’s not just about vampires any more. The franchise has grown to include werewolves as well, allowing film-makers to play with nature and the human condition in a way that has fascinated and terrified audiences alike.
It’s been six years since Twilight was first released. Since then, the landscape of vampires and werewolves in popular culture has changed considerably. New characters and tropes have emerged, setting the scene for the next phase of the evolution. Here are just a few of the major changes we’ve seen. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does highlight some of the most significant ones.
More Complexity, Less Simplicity
The first series of Twilight films established a clear division between humans and vampires/werewolves. The creatures are always seen as dangerous outsiders, existing on the fringes of society and condemned to an eternity of lonely suffering.
This simple binary has been upended in recent years, with new characters and storylines complicating these archetypes. The most prominent example of this is Spike from “Bites”, an edgy vampire TV series that sees the traditional bloodsucking demons as the enemy, instead championing collaboration and coexistence with humans.
It is Spike’s human companion, Boyd, who guides us through this treacherous landscape. Spike is clearly attracted to Boyd, while also feeling guilty about his role as a murderous predator. This ambivalence is echoed in many of today’s vampire and werewolf characters, many of whom exist in a grey area of morality.
This uncertainty around vampire and werewolf morals is what gives these creatures such a unique appeal in the first place. It doesn’t fit snugly into a convenient moral framework, and that’s what makes it so interesting. The films also explore the concept of family, asking us to consider how we define responsibility and loyalty in relation to one’s blood relatives.
When “Twilight” first arrived in cinemas in 2008, it was a revelation. An unprecedented blend of comedy, romance, and horror, the film featured a diverse range of characters and storylines, all set in a picturesque English village. The world of “Twilight” was, for the first time, one that was truly representative of modern society.
Although the series hasn’t shied away from political and social issues over the years (consider the ‘warrior women’ fight club’ in “Eclipse”, for example), it has continued to champion inclusivity and diversity. This started with its central romance, between high schooler Bella (Taylor Lautner) and Edward (Chris Pine), and it was continued with its main characters being biracial. Many fans hailed “Twilight” as a groundbreaking depiction of modern romance, while also being one of the first major films to feature a transgender character (Jazz).
This trend towards inclusiveness and diversity continued with the addition of “New Moon” in 2009, an expansion featuring the return of several of “Twilight’s” main characters, as well as the introduction of two brand new ones. The latter of these is Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who comes back home after being away for a decade, enthralling Bella with his stories of life abroad. “New Moon” was an improvement on “Twilight” in almost every way – the acting was superb, the pacing was more dynamic, and the cinematography was breathtaking. Its use of color was also vivid, if a little over the top.
“Eclipse”, the final instalment of the Twilight Saga, continues this trend of more diversity and inclusiveness. Set fifteen years after “New Moon”, and ten years after the events of “Twilight”, it features the return of several of the film’s main characters. However, it also introduces to the screen a brand new protagonist, Alice (Stefanie Scott), as well as giving us a glimpse into the future of Bella and Edward’s children: Victoria (Ashley Judd) and Alexander (Jacob Gregory).
Like Jacob, Victoria is the offspring of the supernatural creatures, while Alexander is human. This brings new complications for the family, who must now wrestle with their identities, as well as the existence of the beings from which they sprang. Interestingly, despite the film’s expansive settings and character roster, there is still a distinctly English feel to “Eclipse”, reminding us that even inside the vampire world, class still matters.