Note: This is not a review but rather an evaluation of the more disturbing content in the movie from a biblical viewpoint.
The movie “Eclipse,” based on the third book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, Eclipse, leaves out much of the more disturbing details found in the book. These include some sexually oriented scenes, such as the ones found on pages 186 and 526 (see CANA article on the book and information below). Anyone wanting to understand the effect of the books should not base his or her view of the story solely on the movies. Undoubtedly, many of the Twihards (a term for Twilight fans) seeing this movie have already read the books, probably more than once. And anyone seeing the movie who has not read the books is likely to read the books. The movies and the books, especially for the second and third books, are in many ways two different things since the movies leave out or gloss over some disturbing elements.
This movie packs into a brief scene the tedious discussion in the book of the history of the Native American tribe Jacob (the werewolf/shapeshifter who loves Bella) belongs to. In the book, many pages (243-259) are devoted to the legends and stories of how the tribe were once spirit warriors who became shapeshifters by inhabiting the bodies of animals. In the movie, Bella attends an Indian tribal meeting where the history of shapeshifting and the tribe’s past as “spirit warriors” is briefly recounted.
The term “spirit warriors” is never explained, but the term makes sense in light of the belief that the warriors were able to leave their bodies and fight outside of them. This goes along with the tale that they inhabited the bodies of animals. A shapeshifter in the context of the story is one who is able to take various forms at will by inhabiting an animal (lycanthropy is the term for taking the shape of a wolf). In some Native American folklore, a skinwalker is an evil person who takes the form of any animal he chooses (http://animal.discovery.com/tv/lost-tapes/skinwalker/).
Jacob, one of the book’s heroes and vampire Edward’s rival for the human heroine, Bella, is called a werewolf until the last book, in which he is identified as a shapeshifter. Shapeshifting and traveling outside the body are, of course, activities in the realms of animism and occultism. Traveling outside the body, also called astral travel, is at the heart of many occult teachings and experiences (including the experiences of the writer of this article when she was in the New Age). Astral travel, which may be more a delusion than actual, is pure evil since one is vulnerable to demonic influence in this state. There is no good purpose to it other than to draw someone deeper into occult beliefs and practices, though the (temporary) effect is one of seeming power and freedom.
In the Twilight books, when a human becomes a vampire, they receive at least one special power. Edward can hear others’ thoughts, Jasper can influence others’ moods, Alice can see the possible future (it changes if people alter their plans), one of the “bad” vampires is a “tracker” who can track others down, and there are several other powers. In occult parlance, Edward’s power would be close to telepathy, while Alice’s would be a form of precognition. These abilities, even if they are more often illusory than real, should never be presented as good because of the possibility that some people may find these skills attractive. There are plenty of books and online sites that are more than eager to teach people (including numerous sources for teens) how to cultivate these alleged abilities (which sometimes operate by demonic power, especially telepathy). Such teachings are always in a New Age or occult context.
Intimacy and Misplaced Love
Although Bella tells her father she is a virgin (which is true), Edward spends the night with Bella in her bedroom almost every night. Naturally, Bella’s father is unaware of this. There is at least one scene in the movie that shows this. At one point, Bella, in bed with Edward at his place, tries in vain to seduce him.
In another scene in the movie, Bella is in a tent with Edward and Jacob. Since the weather is frigid and Edward, as a cold vampire, cannot keep her warm, Jacob happily climbs into the sleeping bag with Bella and holds her all night. This particular scene in the book is much longer (488-505) and includes several instances of sexual innuendo.
Rosalie (Edward’s “sister” in the clan) recounts to Bella the story of how she became a vampire (Rosalie was found by Carlisle after being gang-raped; some of the story is shown in the movie, but not the rape, though it is implied). Bella, who throughout the movies expresses her yearning and plan to become a vampire, tells Rosalie, “There is nothing I want more than Edward.” Rosalie tells Bella that she is wrong about that because when she becomes a vampire, Bella will want one thing more than anything – blood. However, this does not deter Bella.
At this point in the story, Bella is 18 (she was 17 when she first met and fell in love with Edward), and Edward has okayed Bella’s desire to become a vampire if she will marry him. Bella is more than willing to give up her humanity, family, friends, and soul (the latter clearly expressed in the books and in the second movie, “New Moon”) in order to be with Edward “for eternity” (see CANA article on book for Mormon references; author Stephenie Meyer is Mormon).
There are many violent scenes of the newborn vampires slaughtering humans (newborn vampires are people still in the stage of adjusting to being a vampire; in this stage, their bloodlust and strength are the strongest). There are also violent scenes at the end when the newborns fight Edward’s clan and the werewolves, and when the “bad” vampire, Victoria, and her lover, Riley, fight with Edward and the werewolves. Some of the fighting is repulsive, as when the vampires are torn apart.
In the book, the majority of this fighting is only referred to (except Victoria and Riley’s attack), since the book is mostly various conversations pieced together. In order to have some action, the movie had to show the fighting.
There is some brief joking from Bella with Jasper about how she will take on Jasper once she is a vampire and has that super strength. The book is more explicit, with discussion and thought from Bella wondering how many people she will kill, and Edward’s clan taking bets on it (pages 343-344).
There is no morality or wholesome love depicted in this movie. The abstinence practiced by Bella and Edward is due to Edward’s fear of killing Bella. According to many news reports (CBS, CNN, and others) the Twilight series has influenced a trend among some teens in biting each other, and a new hyper-real religion, vampirism. Revlon has an ad for their Just Bitten line of lipstains and balm showing actress Jessica Biel being kissed in a meadow, a la Edward and Bella. At the end of the 16 second ad, Biel asks sultrily, “Have you ever been bitten?” (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooTBIuUbmM0)
Some would dismiss the biting as faddish teen behavior or behavior among hardcore admirers of the series, but keep in mind that many fans of these books and movies are adults, including the mothers of the teen fans. There is always an effect on culture as standards drop to lower levels. The Twilight story manufactures its own morals, with good versus bad vampires. Bella lies quite frequently, is in inappropriate situations with Edward, and there is a consistent morbid focus on blood. With Twilight, the vampire has gone from villain (Dracula), to misunderstood tragic figure (Anne Rice novels), to godlike, glorious Edward, a hero for whom a young girl will forfeit her soul.
Scenes in the book Eclipse which are not in movie:
Account of scene on page 186 in Eclipse (NY: Little, Brown, and Company, 2007): Edward is in bed with Bella. He reaches down Bella’s leg and then, as Bella recounts it, he “pulled my leg up suddenly, hitching it around his hip” (186). After kissing, Edward “rolled till he hovered over me. . . . I could feel the cool marble of his body press against mine,” and then, “Cold as ice, his tongue lightly traced the shape of my lips” (186).
Account of scene on page 526 in Eclipse: There is a near-bodice ripper scene when Jacob imposes himself on Bella in the tent when Edward is not there. Jacob kisses Bella “with an eagerness that was not far from violence” (526). The scene is non-graphic but quite erotic, and continues with Bella giving in and responding passionately to Jacob’s advances.