This movie focuses on Bella creating her own family


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

Since the novel Breaking Dawn, with sections told from both Bella and Jacob’s point-of-view, weighs in at a lengthy 754 pages, discussion began early in the process about splitting the dense story into two films. “When I read the book, that moment when Bella’s eyes pop open and they’re red, that just struck me,” states Rosenberg. “It was not so much an ‘ah ha moment’ as it was ‘well that’s obvious’ moment. I just felt it was a natural breaking point at the transition from Bella’s life as a human, to her life as a vampire and a parent. It’s just two different worlds for her.”

“Initially, I sat down and broke both stories into an outline. We had to know that it would work in an outline form, before we even moved forward. The book was very big, but not quite two movies. There needed to be some expansion. So, it was really incumbent upon me to make sure that there were two movies in there. The pressure was quite something,” laughs Rosenberg. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 focuses on Bella creating her own family, and Part 2 is about protecting it. Rosenberg adds, “Part 1 is about leaving home. It’s about growing up and really becoming an adult, becoming a wife, becoming a mother and becoming powerful… really owning your own power. It is coming of age really, being on your own for the first time. It’s a very adult story, happening to an 18 year old. Part 1 ends with the moment Bella wakes up as a vampire, and Part 2 begins at exactly that same moment.”

“Initially, things seem ideal. It is the perfect romance finally coming together. But, as with all marriages, there are complications. There is no such thing as happy ever after,” warns Rosenberg. “Marriage is hard work, anyone who’s married will tell you that. So, of course, Bella and Edward have issues to work on, and they are life and death issues. They are really very, very high stakes, as high as they’ll ever be.”

Joining the ranks of previous Twilight Saga directors Catherine Hardwicke, Chris Weitz, and David Slade; Academy Award® winning filmmaker Bill Condon was selected to helm the last two installments.

“On Breaking Dawn, we were really blessed. A lot of great directors came forward who were interested in the material and the challenge of making two movies at once,” says Godfrey. “We had approached Bill Condon on one of the earlier movies so when we started looking for Breaking Dawn and he was both available and interested – that was a really exciting for all of us. I’ll always remember what he said in an early meeting talking about the books and the movies, ‘I guess I’ve imprinted on the world of Twilight.’ It was perfect that he’d used that metaphor for his own affection for the series.”

“What was interesting to me is that each of those previous films is very different, one to the other,” comments Condon. “Each director has had a completely different approach to those movies, even though the story is continuous from one book to the next. There’s a unity in the writing, both of the books and the scripts. But within those constraints, each director has done something very different. I was excited by that fact that the fourth movie especially, seemed really different from the others. And then, the fifth is very different from the fourth. So, it is a chance to put your mark on it.”

“The timing was never right before,” adds Condon. “But Breaking Dawn happened right on the heels of a movie that I was about to start making, falling apart. I got a call, read a rough outline, and then the novel. I was really turned on by it, partly because so much of the other movies have been the setup for what happens here. In the course of one movie, Bella gets married, she has sex for the first time, she gets pregnant, she gives birth, she dies, and she is reborn as a vampire. That’s just the first movie.”

“With all of the anticipation, the whole movie is a third act,” he adds. “It felt very satisfying, partly like an old Minnelli movie, like a great Hollywood romantic melodrama combined with a really cool intense horror movie. Both of those ideas clashing with each other, actually turning it into something that, I think, is unique. Also, I love vampire movies.”

At the end of the last film, Bella and Edward have a sword hanging over their heads in the expectation that, according to Volturi laws, she must be turned into a vampire. “The Volturi will be on screen en force in Part 2, but this ticking clock is there through all of Part 1. The Volturi are waiting,’” explains Godfrey.

“In this film, the main threat is not only the internal threat of the unknown child to Bella, but also the wolves’ pending attack on the Cullen house. We’ve stepped away from the threat of the Volturi, and really dealt and what the birth of this child is going to do to this uneasy truce between the Cullen vampires and the wolves,” adds Godfrey. “Bill’s perfect because he’s a genre junkie and he loves fantasy. Early in his career he also wrote genre films, plus he’s a visual director…. look at Dreamgirls.”

“There are classic Hollywood genres that go out of fashion, musicals are an example. I am interested in how you make those genres work,” Condon says. “As I said, this really is a classic romantic melodrama. Those really don’t get made much anymore. But across movie history, especially during the Golden Age of Hollywood, melodrama was really a staple genre, that’s now fallen by the wayside. So being able to work in that arena, and express a story through color, music, design, camera, and get inside this woman’s emotions, was exciting. You don’t get those opportunities very often.”

“I remember going in to talk to all the folks for the first time. Wow, there are big things to figure out here: sex for the first time, talking wolves, imprinting. There are big challenges in Part 1 alone, because it’s about taking something that’s written as a fantasy, and actually bringing the moviegoer along to the degree that they believe in it, and some of these ideas are pretty out there. How do we figure out how to create a universe where you would go along for that ride?”

“It was really great to have the security blanket of producer Wyck Godfrey and co-producer Bill Bannerman already on board. Wyck produced all the previous films and Bill joined the team on New Moon,” explains Condon. “First of all, the incredible knowledge… they’ve been down certain roads two and three times before. They have a very gentle way of steering you away from certain problems or dead ends. It was interesting to see them continue to be excited by the big challenges that each book presents.”

Condon, who won his Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar® for Gods and Monsters – a film about the final days of the Frankenstein movie director – agreed with the decision to make the final chapter into two films. “It was pretty clear. This final book has three sections – the beginning and end are from Bella’s perspective, and the middle from Jacob’s point of view. Where it cuts off is the moment when she becomes a vampire, which is the point where we cut off the first movie. Up to then really is a full movie. A lot happens and the idea of doing all that in 50 minutes, would have forced us to just skim the surface of everything. It was the right thing to do.”

“The book shifts to Jacob’s perspective because at a certain point Bella becomes bedridden,” adds Meyer. “She can’t see what’s going on around her because she’s so sick. Bella’s out of touch, but the reader needs to see what’s going on and the actions outside the house. The narrative is away from Bella for the first time and I felt like it was time for someone else to tell the story. We get to see what’s going on with Jacob and how her decision is affecting the outside world. We get to see Edward away from her, and how torn up he is, which she doesn’t always get to see.”

Even though he is an accomplished screenwriter in his own right, Condon was happy to leave the screenwriting chores to Melissa Rosenberg. “We started from her outline. It was so good to have her, as she knew the challenges of adapting Twilight to the screen so intimately. Melissa is a really good writer and working with her was one of my favorite parts of making this movie. We would spend all this time batting it out. It was so thrilling not to have to do that writing work. Melissa is a woman, she knows this world and the voice of these characters so well. I really loved it because it was just a very easy, good collaboration.”

“It’s always a little bit dicey when a director is a writer/director. Plus, Bill Condon is an Academy Award® winning writer, whom I had always admired,” comments Rosenberg. “It could go one way or the other – either he does not really know how to talk to writers, he only knows how to do the writing himself, so he’ll just take the script. Or, he knows exactly how to communicate something to a writer and help the writer bring the material out. Bill is the latter. This was one of the best director collaborations I’ve ever had. He knew how to get to the heart of the story and he took it to levels that I had not found yet. After 20 years of screen writing, I really learned something from him, he really brought my game up. I’m a better writer because of Bill.”

“I’d already done three Twilight movies and I was getting tired. You rarely hear a writer say this, but part of me was hoping he might just take the script and do a polish. When we first sat down he says, ‘I don’t wanna write this – you’re going to write this.’ I was like ‘Oh, really?’ The one time I want a director to go on and re-write me, he refuses,” laughs Rosenberg. “But his notes were very specific, very inspiring, and very creative.”

“Bill and I began to work together by talking through the outlines, but then I went off and did the scripts. When we had done a couple drafts, that’s when the real work began. Conflict number one in the marriage is – Bella wants sex. She wants to have the full human experience and Edward is far too concerned for her safety. So they battle it out – she tries to seduce him and he tries to resist. As the book will tell you, she wins,” laughs Rosenberg. “For Bill, it was all about bringing out the emotion and rooting it in a very real universal human experience, and carrying theme through from the beginning to the end. That, of course, is all rooted in character. Bill and I went through every page, every line, every scene, and really worked those character moments.”

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