The story in the movie “New Moon,” mirrors the book; the main differences are that due to time, the movie mercifully leaves out some things and cuts short many lengthy scenes in the book. For example, in the book, many, many pages must be torturously consumed by the reader while the self-absorbed heroine, Bella, mopes unceasingly after Edward. The various minutiae of the trip to Italy in the book, which adds nothing to the plot or characters, is left out and replaced by a jet flying in the sky.


Hordes of teenage girls gasped and made other squealy teen girl noises throughout this movie whenever Bella’s hunky friend Jacob appeared, or when her undead boyfriend, Edward, kissed her. Jacob appeared shirtless in most of the movie and was filmed from angles to show this off, and Edward was shirtless for part of it. This certainly was not necessary in most scenes, but clearly the movie’s producers are in touch with today’s teen girls and know the effect this has. Maybe they figure that cultivating lust at a young age will bring in future customers for the more adult fare. This does not help the abstinence argument, a defense of the books used by many who applaud the books because Bella and Edward do not become intimate (sexually charged scenes continue in the third book as it devolves into a teen bodice ripper toward the end when Jacob essentially forces himself on Bella, who does not really fight back).


But abstinence is not refraining from sexual intimacy due to outside conditions or because one is forced to refrain. Abstinence at heart is a desire to remain pure outside of marriage. Neither Bella nor Edward has this desire; it is the possibility that Edward’s strength could kill Bella that restrains him. In fact, Bella pleads off and on throughout the books with him, but Edward refuses because he does not want to harm her. “We can’t be intimate because I might kill you.” This is abstinence?


The actor who plays Edward certainly is so pale in the film that he does look dead. Wait – that’s right — he is dead. Jacob, the werewolf, is a lively contrast to the pasty faced Edward. However, it is Edward that Bella pines for, and she asks to be turned into a vampire so she can be with Edward forever (and also, this way they can be intimate without her being harmed). Bella voices this desire to herself or to others throughout the book, so often that it becomes tiring. Aside from her total infatuation with Edward, wanting to be with him every single second, this is a constant thought in her mind. The movie shows Bella’s willingness to leave her family, friends, life as a human, and to forfeit her soul, to become one of the undead. Why this point does not disturb the legions of fans (or the parents of the teen fans) but rather makes it romantic, I am not sure. My only conclusion is that the culture is so deadened to evil and death, that death itself is becoming insidiously attractive (death is also made attractive at many points in the Harry Potter series, which perhaps laid some groundwork for receptivity to this series).


Another disturbing element is that Bella discovers that when she endangers herself, she has visions of a disembodied Edward warning her against being reckless. So what does she do? She becomes more reckless because that is how to have this vision. She takes a ride with an older man on a motorcycle; she herself rides a motorcycle very fast and then falls off. She even literally jumps off a cliff (and almost drowns). A favorite parental line in response to a teen wanting to do what their friends do is, “If they jump off a cliff, would you do it?” Well, here is the heroine doing that very thing in order to conjure up Edward. Parents should shudder. Unfortunately, too many of them (mostly mothers and grandmothers) are instead joining in the vampire-fest.


Lest we forget that vampires are attracted to blood, when Bella has a paper cut at the home of the Cullens’ (Edward’s vampire clan), Bella becomes just another tall drink of blood to them. Later, other vampires pronounce her smelling “delicious.” In fact, the books harp on the fact that Edward is first drawn to Bella because of the smell of her blood. This continues to attract him to her. Edward has to fight to control his desire to drink her blood. I do not find this an appealing characteristic in a young lady’s boyfriend.


So we have a heroine who lies to her father (in the books, it is more pronounced than the movies), has a boyfriend whose initial and abiding attraction to her is her blood, who endangers herself on purpose in order to “see” Edward, who wants to give up her human life to become a vampire, and who has no real defining character. In fact, all the characters, except for maybe Jacob, are rather shallow. In truth, the humans in this saga are as empty of authentic humanity as the vampires.