The film Twilight, a fantasy-romantic film has its director as Catherine Hardwicke who adapted it from Stephenie Meyer’s novel Twilight. The plot of the film revolves around the extra-ordinary relationship between a Vampire Edward and a young girl Bella Swan. The captivating conflict centers on the efforts of the family of Bella Swan and those of Edward Cullen to keep her away from the evil vampires.
The film altogether highlights Hardwicke’s theatrical intellect and wit in bringing out scenes that explores serious aspects as well as the social constructions and themes the contemporary society still exhibits despite the gallant fight for equality and social enlightenment. The film raises serious flaws in portraying the women in a society that has spiritedly fought against the tenets of patriarchy by analyzing it from the feminist’s point of view (Chang 1).
As the scenes in the film Twilight unfolds, the 17 years Bella Swan goes to live with Charlie, her father in small town, Forks after her mother elopes with another man. Exposed to new neighborhood and school, Bella has to make new friends where she is intrigued by Edward Cullen after he inexplicably stops a van that nearly run over her with his hand. Bella is intrigued when Cullen is adamant to explain how he saved her and is only against her befriending him. Bella later discovers Cullen is a vampire that only consumes blood from animals.
Conflict in the film plot develops when other vampires know of Cullen and his family protectiveness over humans especially Bella who Edward is in love with. The antagonist, James schemes to hunt Bella where he lures her into a trap ultimately biting her. Lucky enough Edward and Cullen’s family rescues her, destroys James something that hurts Victoria his girlfriend, and the venom in Bella’s blood is sucked out by Edward something that prevents her from becoming a vampire. Victoria, James girlfriend secretly schemes her revenge for her lover as the film ends.
Throughout the film Twilight, it is notable that the female characters especially Isabella “Bella” are developed by the director Hardwicke as naive, annoying, petulant, and above all there is that attitude anti-feminism. This is continuation of the social construction of women as naive and with immature tendencies traverses the ideals of modern society in this film thus being an embarrassment to women folk today. It is also annoying that Bella is prepared to just change from who she is to become a vampire just because she loves Edward.
This is quite demeaning because it paints the bigger picture and a bad one for that matter that women would do anything for the men they love. It is petty that Bella cannot just like the person she is and continue being she is despite all the love she feels for Edward Cullen. This puts the issue of identity of women in question thus painting a negative picture that women want to identify not with their own kind but with who they love. Edward although loves Bella very much he is committed ensuring that Bella is pure no a vampire like himself.
Critically analyzing the film in this perspective, Edward is a vampire who hates the activities other vampires involve in. The evil vampires feed on human flesh and blood, which Edward detests very much. He feeds on animal blood contrary to the likes of other vampires and together with his family protects humans. On the other hand, Bella is deeply moved by the kindness and the love of Edward that she freely wants to become a vampire. A vital question arises, is Bella guided by reason or her emotions? Is it necessary that she change into a vampire?
Can she still exist in the form of human by her virtue and retain her relationship with Edward? This portrayal of women as people guided by emotions but not by reason is quite misleading and anti-feminist. Feminists from 1960s to today are fighting for the deconstruction of portrayal of women as simply people who need men to do everything for them; fight, provide, and defend them. Therefore, in the film Twilight, the portrayal of women is not is not in vogue with the contemporary feminist trends that advocates for women as independent people who can exist without the help of under the umbrella of men (Chang 1).
It is contrary to popular feminists’ trend for women lives to be entirely controlled by men. The film depicts the character of Bella is a person dependent on men in her life. The life of Bella is essentially controlled by men and ultimately allows this to take place. The film depicts a patriarchal society that is against the marriage of older women to younger men and yet it encourages marriage between older men to teenage girls. Would the society depicted in the film would be comfortable if the relationship between Edward and Bella had been vice versa?
Hardwicke perpetuates the ideals of the patriarchal society long forgotten. Edward even though is a vampire depicts more humane qualities by protecting Bella than of vampire and thus enhances the old societal traditions of older men marrying teenagers. Bella should not be in a relationship with a person who is worthy to be her great-grandfather. Edward is too old and there can never be anything good out of the marriage. Any marriage is definitely intended for company and procreation. It is beyond the contemporary societal values for Bella to be involved in a relationship which will culminate to marriage.
It is also targeting and encouraging a society where the place of women denigrates them to stay at home as housewives and bear children on the denial that they cannot make decisions based on reason but guided by their own emotions (Jones 35). Bella is depicted as trying just to make a show of being annoyed when he overprotects her. On the other hand she behaves as a little girl who can barely help herself but only put herself in danger. Hardwicke portrays masculinity which dominates the film.
Edward does not feel she is safe going to meet people because he is for one jealous, and has the power over her anyway and she feebly resists. Bella puts only feeble efforts of showing she is against his help and yet lets him to help her eventually because she loves him. Do women like to be innately protected as Bella exhibits? The entire relationship is symbolic where Bella has to cling on for protection. Not that I’m against the protection but it entirely paints a bigger picture that women require men for protection or else their survival is not guaranteed (Chang 1).
According to Jones (63) the society today has high social consciousness and the modern woman is liberal and the film does not portray the ideal modern woman who is sophisticated and independent. The film in a way promotes conservative social ideologies, which are not well taken by the present society. The female characters although they play dominant role in the film they are presented as people with low self-esteem. The voice of reason forms the important aspects in the modern woman and emotions are not her weakens.
The film however, depicts a thousand and one ways in which Edward manipulates and controls Bella emotionally and she blindly lets him have his way consequently enjoying his actions. It is ironical in the way Edward does not want Bella not to ride her car, guards her bedroom at night and does not want her to do anything all by herself. Instead of living her dreams, Bella gives up all his dreams for the man she loves. Further, the film encourages teenage motherhood in which the contemporary society is against the feminist simply because a teenager cannot make any independent decisions without being influenced.
She completely changes her lifestyle; her friends, her body and moreover gives up humanity just for a man. Another female character is Victoria who as the film ends is possibly planning to avenge for the death of James because she loved him very much. There is not any reason beyond this scheme of revenge because even when she is successful in nothing will bring James back to life. In addition, the film explores on the theme of sexism revolving around fantasy, which is targeting the female audience.
Chang (1) argues Bella’s obsession is Edward who is depicted as the fairest guy in the world. This film further permeates the stereotypes about women that they will fall for any guy who is cute without even digging about his background. And even if they do a research about the background, the physical looks will make them fall for them anyway. The film is prejudiced against women for it depicts them mistaking fantasy for reality and reliving in that state of fantasy and thus sexism, which is femininity indicating that women are weak and objects to be loved, which is a stereotype.
Jacob is a realistic character who doubtlessly appeals to the viewers but they sympathize with him because he suffers from rejection by Bella who wants to be with supernatural Edward. This further seems to confirm the stereotype that women love fantasy rather than the reality. In conclusion, analyzing the film Twilight directed by Catherine Hardwicke from the perspective of feminists, she fails in correcting the stereotypes and prejudices depicted of women in a patriarchal society.
The film further subordinates women in the society of men and indicates that they would love to live in life of fantasy instead of the realistic life. Catherine Hardwicke, a female director is criticized simply because she explores the feminine aspects in this movie negatively; instead of deconstructing the social constructs against the progress of the women folk in her film, she further perpetuates some of the stereotypes and prejudices against women in the contemporary society.
Instead of promoting feminist concepts in this film and breaking down the constructions of the patriarchal society, Hardwicke ironically promotes anti-feminist concepts. Work cited Chang, Justin. Twilight. November 19, 2008. May 11, 2010. <http://www. variety. com/review/VE1117939072. html? categoryid=3565&cs=1> Jones, Amelia. The Feminism and visual culture reader. London: Routledge, 2003. Twilight. Dir. Catherine Hardwicke. Prod. Greg Mooradian, Mark Morgan and Wyck Godfrey. DVD. Summit Entertainment, 2008.
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