Books Vs Films: A TWILIGHT Retrospective

Posted on: November 16th, 2011

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By Sasha Ferguson


Twilight (The Movie) was released in 2008 and spelled the beginning of a cult phenomenon. Based on the popular novels by the American author Stephenie Meyer, the movies catapulted Twilight into such realms of success and generated a cult following that the books could only dream of achieving.

The series is compiled of 4 different books, called Twilight’, ‘New Moon’, ‘Eclipse and ’Breaking Dawn’. The books get progressively more bulky as the series matures, and the final book Breaking Dawn‘ is a hefty 756 pages long, while the first book ‘Twilight’ is a mere 434 pages long. Hopefully this explains to everyone why Breaking Dawn needs to be made into two separate movies!

One of the most important things to realise when discussing the Twilight Saga is the vast differences between the books & the movies. The books offer a darker, more gripping and breathtakingly tense atmosphere that ensured I couldn’t put the books down until I had devoured every syllable. While I am a fan of the movies, the twee, girly story they depict isn’t what Twilight is all about. By targeting a fan-base of teenage screamers, although solidifying Twilight’s  place in the pages of history with a monumental cult following, this has unfortunately tarred Twilight, and thus the fans, with the same sickeningly sweet brush.

The first movie leaves massive proportions of the story out, including things that are crucial to the true depth of the story. Most notably so, being the exchange in which Edward tells Bella she’s like his own personal brand of heroin. This is explained thoroughly in the book and is actually a seriously important aspect, explaining why certain things happen the way they do later in the books.

I won’t go into too much detail for those of you who have chosen to experience Twilight solely via the movies, but Meyer writes that every vampire might come across a human that they find so appealing that they aren’t able to control themselves. Many vampires that had taken the ‘vegetarian’ option just as the Cullens’, came across a human like this and fell off the wagon – Edward’s thirst for Bella’s blood is fatal & when he first met her he was overcome with the urge to kill her, and the fact that Edward longs to murder Bella and drain the blood from her flesh is supposed to add an intensely dramatic dimension to the story that is completely absent in the movies.. the downright uncomfortable way in which the audience is exposed to this in the movie was enough to make even my 19 year old self cringe when the movie was released. I was left fatally resisting the urge not to vomit into my popcorn!

While I am a self-confessed fan of the airy-fairy idea of a forbidden love between a vampire and a teenage girl, even I am severely confused as to why Edward, nor any of the other ‘vampires’ in the movie have fangs, or why the infamous “sparkle” is depicted in such a cringe-worthy way. To quote the book:


Edward in the Sunlight was shocking. I couldn’t get used to it, though I’d been staring at him all afternoon. His skin, white despite the faint flush from yesterday’s hunting trip, literally sparkled, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface.”


I can’t say I found the shots of Rob P wearing body glitter just as breath-taking as the books had set that scene up to be.


I also found that the first movie has a real issue with time. The beginning of the movie sees the story trundling along, painfully slowly, whilst the end of the movie sees a huge proportion, both in length and importance, of the book jammed into the last half an hour, leaving endless questions and the audiences’ head spinning at the speed in which it all flew by. You’d think that in taking so much time at the beginning of the movie, trundling at a snails pace through the story, that they would have been able to squeeze in a few more of the important details in to make the climax of the story just as tense as it was written supposed to be!

Moving on to the second movie, ‘New Moon’, I found it suffered from similar problems. 
The action at the start of the movie is quickly hurried out of the way so we can get down to the drudgery again! You could argue that yes, this is pretty true to the book, but the book creates an ambiance of tension and such an attention grabbing atmosphere that makes it impossible to put down. The movie concentrates more on the airy-fairy lovey-dovey side of things instead of explaining the story properly. I found myself uninterested and slightly confused when watching the movie. Nothing was explained properly!

The months & months that Bella spends in a catatonic state of utter despair, refusing to eat, speak and reluctantly breathing, are depicted in a collage of seasons passing, reading her letters to Alice,and a sad face. The book sees blank pages and chapters merely paragraphs long, trying to communicate to the reader just how empty and dead inside Bella feels when Edward leaves. When her friends at the lunch-table welcome her back and make quips about her absence for the past few months, the viewer of the movie is left clueless to this aspect. When Bella begins thrill-seeking in order to force herself to see Edward, (she sees visions of Edward when she does anything dangerous or adrenaline pumping) the viewer isn’t really clued in as to what is going on.

Jake’s transition is also dealt with briefly, although I will say that the wolfs were a visual treat, as is the soundtrack for all of the movies.

All in all, the first two movies are rushed and there wasn’t enough emphasis on the original story-line. It makes for a nice movie that interests teenage girls but after having had the pleasure of reading the books, the flippant way in which the story is told in the movies just isn’t up to scratch! The third movie, ‘Eclipse’, is slightly different than the first two.



The third book, Eclipse is a far bigger book than the first two and the story begins to become so bulky and complex that leaving huge portions out isn’t really an option. I found the final movie a lot more enjoyable and honestly found myself caught up in the suspense, watching with bated breath as Victoria, finally, after three books, closes in on Bella. And for a brief moment, I even got over my confusion about the lack of fangs! I really enjoyed the fight scenes between the Vampires & Werewolves and as so many different dimensions begin to surface, the third movie makes for a very exciting watch.


In summation I would really recommend going to see the last two movies as ‘Breaking Dawn’ is where it’s at. As the Volturi (the equivalent of a vampire mafia) begin to set their sights on the Cullen clan, and Bella and Edward inconceivably manage to pro-create, things are about to get really exciting! And not just for the teenage girls, all those reluctant boyfriends out there are in for a treat – vampire mafia vs wolves vs vampires, sex and a vampire baby. What’s not to love?



As some of you die-hard Twilight Fans may or may not know, in the first movie, two of the songs featured in scenes are actually written and sung by our very own Robert Pattinson! So get yourself over to YouTube & check out Let Me Sign and Never Think by Robert Pattinson.

Stephenie Meyer had actually began to write another book in the series called `Midnight Sun`, which was swiftly axed due to massive leaks. This book is the initial Twilight story told in the first book, but from the perspective of Edward Cullen, rather than Bella. A re-write of the love-story  through the eyes of the beast! So if any of you are lucky enough to get your hands on the leaked portion like I did, get it downloaded and get stuck in!

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