Going for a Swan
It’s now we suspect that Bella may not be as content with her choice as she’s made out, but it’s her honeymoon that finally opens our eyes to the fact that Breaking Dawn and its predecessors are not a representation of the character’s reality, rather a fantasy created in a teenage girl’s mind that functions to justify the continuation of the relationship in the face of vile and shocking psycho-sexual abuse.
In any other context a girl being taken to a secluded hideaway to experience violent sex that results in her body being broken, a housemaid looking horrified and proclaiming “death” when she sees the two of them together, a pregnancy that’s greeted with disgust and alarm by the man who will only refer to the baby as “a thing” and an ensuing convalescence that sees the mother-to-be imprisoned inside her husband’s family’s compound with no access to her parents, school mates or a real doctor and forced to drink blood from a polystyrene cup while her feckless, indolent man stands idle in the shadow of her emaciated carcass, would be a textbook case of spousal neglect. Yet chuck in a childish (and desperate) fantasy about a vampire and a werewolf, or if you wish to be less generous, a corpse and a dog, and this plain-as-the-nose on-your-ugly-face disaster becomes buried.
Bella endures the bruises, the pain and the satanic diet, parrying the interventions of concerned friend and alternative penis, Jacob, but by the time she’s ready to give birth – an early delivery because of her many injuries, Breaking Dawn is ready to cast aside her illusions and call a spade a spade. In a genuinely horrific home birth scene, to live long in the memory, our once virginal victim is eviscerated by her Husband’s cousin, given an injection of “venom” straight to the heart and bitten on the arms, legs and neck. It might be the most shocking body expulsion since John Hurt gave birth in Alien. Jacob, realising that he’s lost his love to this modern Manson family, resolves to protect the child, while Bella, no longer human in any recognisable sense, gives in and joins this cabal of misfits as a paid up automaton. She tells herself she’s a vampire too, naturally. One weeps.
Breaking Dawn Part I proves that a young Hollywood audience is prepared to tackle weighty subjects if the material is given a fantasy twist. Just as Star Trek: Generations took on heroin addiction and Labyrinth, paedophilia, Twilight casts a colourful and lazy eye over a social disease that shows little sign of being in retreat. It’s hard to see any girl gaining strength from it; there’s little hope or humour, but if it increases awareness of the problem just one notch, then perhaps, despite first impressions, it isn’t a waste of celluloid after all.
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