No broken ribs in Breaking Dawn

A still from Rosemary's Baby. Mia Farrow clutches her pregnant belly and looks horrified at something off camera.

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:

a screenshot of a facebook comment from a user named Sparkle Cullen. She writes 'THANK YOU! its not! and it shouldnt be rated R because i am only 13 AND I AM LIKE THE BIGGEST TWILIGHT SAGA FAN EVER AND I DONT HAVE AN ID YET :('

*It’s a vampire baby so duh, she can’t go to a regular hospital.

‘Twilight’ screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg talks Kristen Stewart, Bill Condon and ‘Breaking Dawn’
[L.A. Times Blog]
Will Twihards be denied bloody birth scene? [Jezebel]

by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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15 Comments Have Been Posted

New Twilight, Aieeeee!

You're taking this whole Twilight thing way too seriously and may be a tad overly critical. This is just another mainstream movie series about vampires (VAMPIRES CAN'T BE REAL!) so I don't see what the big fuss is about. Sure, the series does contain plot lines that would be problematic (again, if this was real life!) and I guess these issues are kinda serious (spousal abuse, Edward's desire during sex to break...something, abortion, pro-life psa's, fear, intimidation) and I guess the viewers (which are mostly impressionable pre-teen boys and girls) number in the guh-zillions. Shit, you might be on to something here. This is all terrible but I'll still be keeping my fingers crossed for the chompy birthing scene.

Notta OMG Twi fan

I have seriously had this conversation at least half a dozen times in the past several months! I haven't read the books, seen the movies, blah blah, none of it. But I read something about this a while ago and would go see the gory version in a heartbeat. WTF would that even be like?! I cannot comprehend, and frankly, the screenwriter shouldn't act like she's all above it. I know it's PR, but I'd love for someone to just come right out (well, as you did) and explain why this shit is off the hook (in a good and bad way) and needs to be publicly dissected. I can't be the only one who thinks there are a lotta parents who don't know that this goes down in the books their kiddos are reading, and I'd love to see their faces when they end up in the vampire succubus C-section via teeth movie. Shiiiiit.

Are you kidding?

I haven't seen either of the existing movies and I found myself unable to get through even half of the booooooooooooooring as mud first Twilight book but I was really psyched to see the birth scene (I may not have gotten through the source material, but I have certainly enjoyed more skillful writers' recaps of the more salient plot points of the saga). Now you're telling me I just have one more reason to avoid these films. Blarg.


I agree with you that the most compelling part of this whole bizarro zeitgeist-y series is the birth scene--why would they cut it out?! Sorry Sparkle Cullen, but I'm hoping this film gets an R rating due to its cesarean-by-fangs scene.


sorry if this is a stupid question, but what movie is the picture from?

I believe it's Rosemary's

I believe it's Rosemary's Baby.

not a stupid question!

It's from <a href=""><i>Rosemary's Baby</a></i>, and I included it because it's another movie where a woman is impregnated with a monster and has the Worst Pregnancy Ever. I included it ironically because it's a way better (and scarier) movie than <i>Breaking Dawn</i> will probably be (although it's directed by a monster itself - Roman Polanski) but includes similar plot points (...or maybe just one, key plot point).

Weirdly, Rosemary's Baby is

Weirdly, Rosemary's Baby is sort of a refutation in one way of your point that something offscreen can't be as effective and evocative as what's on. Polanski deliberately chose never to show the baby, because he knew that the baby in your head is always going to be scarier and more disturbing than anything he could come up with. (Savvy filmmaker. It really is too bad he's a sick evil ass.)

If it were directed and staged REALLY well, I think it is possible that the birth scene COULD be more effective with less shown. If they come up with a way to suggest that something nightmarish is happening just out of frame, the audience can fill in as much gore and horror as you could possibly want, and it'll be worse than anything you could put on film.

(Like, just for example, we see a weeping Edward roll Bella's shirt back to expose her belly, and he bares his fangs, and starts to strike down, and right at that moment the camera cuts away to, say, the floor beside the bed. The music cuts out, the sound cuts out, dead silence, and then we see a drop of blood fall down on the floor. Then another. And another. And it starts to pool. Not enough blood to give us an R rating, but enough to suggest that there is a whole hell of a lot more blood that we're not seeing. And an agonizingly loooong silence is eventually broken by the sound of a baby's cry. Just one idea of how it could go.)

I don't know how LIKELY it is that it will be directed and staged really well, as I've been staying the hell away from these flicks, but it is at least theoretically possible.

And don't mock little Sparkle Cullen. I don't care for the franchise at all, but the movie is for her, not me. Tweens and teens are the biggest audience for this book. And I can imagine how devastated she and all the kids like her would be if they weren't allowed into the theatre. It's THEIR movie.

Someone... No wait, everyone, is using "succubus" incorrectly. It's not a synonym for "parasite."

oh noez.

bahhhhh that someone is me!! It's totally because it has the word "suck" in what vampires do! Thanks for pointing out my ignorance when it comes to demon terminology. Now I have to find an excuse to use "succubus" correctly....

I know. I forgot how I

I know. I forgot how I arrived at the actual definition of succubus, but I think it was some combination of wanting to use it to mean "parasite" and maybe a corrective episode of The X-Files. I see it misused everywhere.

I hate my friends for recommending these books to me.

Whilst Bella refusing an abortion because she doesn't want one even though the true love, the patriarchal figure and the platonic love men in her life insist upon it is probably her strongest moment in the book it does leave me with several issues:
1) Abortion is this terrible thing that she'd never do. Even though having this baby will KILL her or force her to change and be so incredibly painful and horrific that just reading the scene made me doubly careful with contraceptives for about a year. I know being pro-choice means letting the woman decide but what kind of message is this sending?
2) Yet again she refuses to discuss her point of view with Edward. She lets him lay down the law and then goes behind his back- yeah he shouldn't be so sanctimonious but there are several points in the series where she should tell him to shut up and listen (such as when he bans her from seeing Jacob and the pack and she agrees but then does anyway- wtf.) Everything in their relationship- from her end anyway- is about manipulation and deceit because girls that's the only way to get and keep a man and definitely the only you can make decision about your life!
3) Last, but by no means least, I'm pretty sure the only reason she wants to have the damned thing is that it is Edwards. She goes on and on for FOREVER about how she hopes that it's a boy, and a tiny Edward at that; how it should be everything like him and nothing at all like her. He's so perfect who wouldn't want another one to get a weird reverse-Oedipus complex about. Why should it be anything like undeserving her who only carries and nearly dies to deliver it. UGH.

Edward Cullen = Abusive Boyfriend

My friend sent me this link written by someone on Live Journal who goes over a bunch of reasons why Edward Cullen is an abusive boyfriend. I'm a domestic violence survivor advocate at a hospital in New York and I've got to tell you, this entry is right on target. It scares the crap out of me that so many 13 year old girls think this is romance.

@Georgie and @Jessi

Thanks for both your comments. I haven't read Breaking Dawn, so I'm only relying on those who have, and I had a suspicion that the abortion issue was in the end more problematic than not. thanks for illuminating it further ( do you think they're gonna handle it in the movie?)

And Jessi thank you also for reminding us that even though it's easy to dismiss the Twilight series for whatever reason (bad writing, poor character development), that there are harmful messages.

Did someone say "<a href="/comments-policy">Comments Policy</a>"?

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