Even though we’re three feature films away from the conclusion of the Twilight film series (Eclipse premiers at the end of this month), there’s already talk of what the adaptation of Breaking Dawn, the final book in the series that is being broken into two movies, is going to include…or more specifically leave out, namely Bella’s bone-breaking, blood-soaked, and almost-lethal delivery of her vampire baby.
Spoiler alerts follow, but if you’ve read “Bite Me or Don’t,” you already know the basics: Bella and Edward get married, they have sex on their honeymoon, Bella gets pregnant, Bella gives birth. And then there’s some stuff about warring vampire clans or something, but that happens in every book.
Bella’s pregnancy is a
succubus parasite extreme. Although her baby comes to term within six weeks (for an immortal being they sure don’t waste time in gestation), as the child develops it weakens Bella physically with every passing day, making her delivery extremely trying, to the point that Edward has to deliver the baby Cesarean-style….with his teeth. So you can understand why those of us a little less interested in the unrealistic (read: annoying) Twilight love triangle were a little disappointed to hear that screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg is probably leaving out the scene. As she told the LA Times Blog:
On the fan site, on Facebook, all the comments are “It has to be R rated! You have to show the childbirth! Gore and guts and sex!” For me it’s actually more interesting to not see it. You know, you can do childbirth without seeing childbirth … it doesn’t mean it’s any less evocative of an experience.
Um, he rips their baby out of her stomach with his mouth! I would like to see what kind of mise-en-scène director Bill Condon conjures up to ensure it’s no “less evocative” without this unnatural natural* birth.
But seriously, there are few more occurrences in Breaking Dawn that go where no Twilight book or film has gone before, and that will also require some careful planning on behalf of the filmmakers (besides, aren’t we used to seeing childbirth as a fate worse than death on the silver screen?) On some level, the couple’s consummation could be considered just as controversial. Bella, ever the lip-biting heavy-breather, has been jonesing for some Cullen lovin’ for thousands of pages by now, while Edward warns her that his strength and realized sexuality would destroy her. But as in the dictionary as in fantasy abstinence allegories, sex comes after marriage; and on their honeymoon they finally do it, and she wakes up the next morning covered in bruises.
Now I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as consensual rough sex, and Bella consents, but it’s framed as a relationship where a man just can’t control the animal within him - Edward “has to have something to break.” Then there’s the whole Virginal Special Wedding Night message, and I get a headache teasing out what messages are being sent out when after Bella’s first PIV sex encounter she wakes up bruised all over and sore as well, fuck. And even though Edward feels awful about hurting Bella, seeing this translated to the screen with a PG-13 rating is quite a task, since not showing a black-and-blue post-coital Bella seems dishonest to the story, but could be potentially confusing for younger viewers.
Also, there’s the abortion issue. Mainstream movies and television shows are notorious for copping-out when it comes to unplanned pregnancy. But when you throw a vampire baby into the mix, it’s another story. Edward wants Bella to get an abortion from the get-go because the birth will kill her (he’s right, btw), but Bella wants to keep it, to the point that she would be willing to give her life to have the baby. If there was any feminist narrative to be dragged out of the Twilight series, it might be Bella’s conviction to carry through with her pregnancy against the will of Edward, Jacob, and Carlisle - the most powerful male characters of the series. (On the other hand there’s the line, “I wanted him like I wanted air to breathe. Not a choice — a necessity.” Again. Headache.) It will be interesting to see if the A-word is uttered, or if Rosenberg will resort to euphemism.
On her Facebook page, Rosenberg wrote, “My feeling is - more or less blood, or more or less graphic violence, sex or child-birthing gore doesn’t define Breaking Dawn. It’s the characters, their journey, their relationships. The other stuff won’t change that. So regardless of the rating, the story, essentially, is the story.” Yeah, a story about teen sex, pregnancy, and vampire babies that I personally would like to see on the big screen.
But there’s at least one person happy with Rosenberg’s decision, and her name is Sparkle Cullen:
*It’s a vampire baby so duh, she can’t go to a regular hospital.