When I talked with Robert Pattinson on November 10, 2008, about playing Edward, the hunky vampire in TWILIGHT, that film had just sold out around 100 of its first screenings almost two weeks before its opening. He modestly refused to take any personal credit for that, even though he had been mobbed more than once by eager fans during the press tour for that film. No stranger to high-profile fantasy films, he was in two of the Harry Potter films as Cedric Diggory, he had interesting observations about people’s need for a flight of fancy every now and then, as well how playing a vampire might have helped him develop a fear of heights, and the importance of getting a vampire’s hair just right.
TWILIGHT, the film version of Stephenie Meyer’s young adult novel, operates on two levels of fantasy, one traditional that speaks to many of the roiling and contradictory impulses that lurk in the collective subconscious of us all: to dominate, to fit in, to cheat death. It also speaks to the other irresistible impulses, roiling and contradictory, that lurk in the collective subconscious of teenage girls: to be envied, to flirt with sexuality and to do so with a hunky guy who is at once dangerous and completely safe. It’s that second set of roilings that have made the novel and its three sequels best sellers. Judging by the way those same teenage girl squealed and cheered with delight at the preview screening I attended, the film’s investors have no worries about recouping their investment and then some.
TWILIGHT’s built-in audience that won’t be disappointed in the way the characters have been brought to life. They are lovely, anguished, and plucky as they break the rules their respective societies have laid down for them. Far from a masterpiece, though, it manages to be a fairly entertaining bit of fantasy with a take on the vampire myth that is a refreshing change from the ordinary.