Well, there’s Frost and Debussy, chaste love — and even a humdinger of a battle scene for adults
Every cloud has a silver lining.
For my father, after my mother died, it was that he never had to be dragged to High Holiday services at the synagogue ever again.
For the parents of “Twilight”-besotted teenage girls (known as “Twi-hards”), it’s knowing that, amidst all the vampires, wolf packs and swooning protestations of undying love, your daughter is being exposed to poet Robert Frost and composer Claude Debussy.
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) reads Frost’s “Fire and Ice” aloud to her vamp beau Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) in their first scene in “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” the third chapter in the blockbuster series based on author Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novels. And later, when Bella visits Edward’s house, Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” can be heard faintly tinkling away in the background.
So there’s your silver lining.
Your kid is going to be touched by highbrow culture without your having to nag, lecture or drag her off to a concert hall. And, if you’re really lucky, she may just seek out the original Frost poem — and that might lead to her read more of his poems and then move on to Whitman, Yeats and other literary greats.
She might even download the “Eclipse” soundtrack and put “Claire de Lune” on repeat, and then hunt iTunes for additional Debussy and other classical composers.
Hey, it could happen.
Adolescence is an impressionable age. When a teenage girl becomes interested in something during those years — and I speak from experience — she becomes totally absorbed in it, whether it’s a boy (or boys), rock music, fashion, bicycling or the complex mythology Meyer has created in her “Twilight” franchise. She wants to know everything, see everything, suck it all up.
Teen-themed hit movies have had powerful influences in the past, some of it even good. Consider how many teens have been exposed to Shakespeare in recent decades, either directly or indirectly, and been bitten by the bug.
After Leonard Whiting bared his posterior in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 teen angst version of “Romeo and Juliet,” plenty of adolescent girls read the Bard’s original, if only to see whether Shakespeare had actually specified a nude scene. His popularity with teen girls was boosted again when Baz Luhrman revisited the playwright’s tragic lovers in his 1996 version, “Romeo + Juliet,” with Clare Danes and the teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio. And a young Heath Ledger sure was hunky in 1999's "10 Things I Hate About You," an updated rom-com version of "The Taming of the Shrew."
Now, I’d never compare “Twilight” to Shakespeare, but the key to the popularity of both “Romeo and Juliet” and Meyers’ series is the fervency with which its teen protagonists believe in, and declare, their love.
The older you get, the more you understand that love (and especially marriage) is about compromise. But when you’re 12 or 15 or even 17 (the age of “Twilight’s” heroine), it’s L-O-V-E and it’s everything. The teen years are not about moderation.
In all three “Twilight” movies, Edward cares for Bella beyond reason. He repeatedly declares his love for her with a passion and an intensity that, in real life, American teenage boys reserve only for internet porn and picking out the car they’re going to buy when they get their license.
Who wouldn’t want that kind of devotion?
And she’s not just getting it from Edward. In “Eclipse,” Bella once again finds herself in the middle of a triangle, committed to Edward but fervently courted by Jacob “Jake” Black (Taylor Lautner, hopelessly stolid). Jake, too, has supernatural powers; he’s able to turn into an over-sized furry wolf.
All of which is to say that “Eclipse” is more of the same: endless teenage posturing and declarations of eternal love and much snarling between vampires and wolves.
Adults will grow weary of this, particularly since director David Slade (“30 Days of Night,” “Pretty Candy”) seems to encourage his young cast to pause momentously and at length between every line. (Snip out the pauses, and the two-hour-plus film would be 30 minutes shorter.)
But hang in there, older viewers, because you’ll be rewarded in the final quarter with a humdinger of a climactic battle scene that pits Edward and the good vampires, aided by Jake and his wolf pack homies, against a throng of rapacious “newborn” vampires, with a guest appearance by the Volturi (the nasty ruling arm of vampiredom).
As for the target audience, they’re going to love every single moony, chaste (Bella and Edward have yet — we’re already talking three movies — to hit the sheets), self-indulgent, badly acted minute.
At the screening I attended, teen girls and young twentysomething women packed the audience. They squealed early and often, particularly any time — which was most of the movie — a buff Jake went shirtless or Edward vehemently swore his everlasting love.
OK, so maybe Frost and Debussy don’t stand a chance with this crowd, at least until their hormones calm down. Maybe it was always thus. When I was their age, I read “Romeo and Juliet” just once but I went to see Leonard Whiting, uh, I mean the movie, three times.
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