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Adaptation, Young Adult Fiction, and Repressiveness in New Moon (2009

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Adaptation, Young Adult Fiction, and Repressiveness in New Moon (2009

  1. 1. Thomas Colleran 1 How Chris Weitz’s Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) Popularised the YA (Young Adult Fiction) Genre, and how it is a Regressive Text. This essay will examine the 2009 Chris Weitz-directed The Twilight Saga: New Moon,1 a cinematic adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s 2006 source novel New Moon.2 After brief contextualisation of the film to the wider Twilight book and parallel film series, the essay will first consider the impact of the Twilight phenomenon, with particular reference to New Moon, on the developing marketplace for young adult (YA) cinematic and literary materials. This will be followed by a consideration of New Moon in terms of the film as an adaptation, with appropriate reference to adaptation studies and concepts; this will include some analysis of the narrative changes and continuities made in the transition of the storyline from text to screen. The essay will then reflect on a range of critical readings of the film text, with a particular focus on the regressive and ‘anti-feminist’ qualities, as acknowledged by some commentators, and a consideration of Jeffrey Cohen's ‘monster theory’, moving towards a summary that brings together the different strands pursued through the course of the main body. The Twilight Saga: New Moon (hereafter referred to as the source book title, New Moon) is the second film in the five-film Twilight saga. It follows Twilight,3 and precedes, in turn, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse4 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 15 and 2.6 The success of the Twilight cycle, both in original novelistic and subsequent film versions, has been remarkable. In 2009, the books represented the 1 The Twilight Saga: New Moon, dir. by Chris Weitz (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2009) 2 Stephenie Meyer, New Moon (London: Atom Books, 2007) 3 Catherine Hardwicke, Twilight (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2008) 4 David Slade, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2010) 5 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I, dir. by Bill Condon (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2011) 6 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, dir. by Bill Condon (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2012)
  2. 2. Thomas Colleran 2 top four bestselling novels in the United States of America, with New Moon occupying the ‘top’7 place. The film adaptation was a significant financial success, too, breaking ‘box-office’8 records for its release period. The film franchise as a whole has grossed over three ‘billion’9 dollars worldwide. Book sales for the novel quartet have been estimated at one hundred and twenty ‘million copies’10 globally. The Twilight phenomenon has been at the vanguard of a developing wave of popularity of young adult texts, both in novel and in film adaptation form, which has been a significant popular cultural force over the last decade. Rosenberg sees some of this popularity as deriving from the accessibility of the material. They are ‘challenging’11 but not threatening for younger children, he says, relevant and meaningful for teenagers, and nostalgic, escapist and familiar for adult readers. Young adult fantasy tends to revisit well-known tropes of speculative and fantastic fiction: vampires and werewolves in the Twilight cycle, and future dystopias in The Hunger Games,12 The Maze Runner,13 and Divergent14 series. Each of which have been adapted into film series’ paralleling the novels. 7 Anthony Debarros and others, ‘Best-Selling Books: The Annual Top 100 2009’, USA Today. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2010-01-05-top-books-2009_N.htm > [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 8 Nikki Finke, ‘New Moon Shreds Movie Records’, Deadline Hollywood. <http://deadline.com/2009/11/phenomenal-breaking-records-new-moon-doing-dark-knight-midnight- numbers-18958/#more-18958> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 9 Nash Information Services, ‘Box Office History for Twilight Franchise Movies’, The Numbers. <http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/franchise/Twilight#tab=summary > [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 10 Michael Hardiman, ‘Fitting in Means Reading Some Truly Awful Stuff’, Splice Today <http://www.splicetoday.com/digital/fitting-in-means-reading-some-truly-awful-stuff > [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 11 Alyssa Rosenberg, ‘From “Harry Potter” to “Twilight,” the Enduring Draw of Young Adult Fiction’, The Atlantic. <http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/05/from -harry-potter-to- twilight-the-enduring-draw-of-young-adult-fiction/239639/ > [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 12 The Hunger Games, dir. by Suzanne Collins (London: Scholastic, 2009) 13 James Dashner, The Maze Runner (United Kingdom: Chicken House, 2014) 14 Veronica Roth, Divergent (London: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013)
  3. 3. Thomas Colleran 3 David Brown links some of the popularity of young adult speculative fiction over the past decade to the strength of readers’ ‘identification’15 with the young adult protagonists of these fictions. They each face momentous decisions and life and death conflicts. Often, such decisions are linked in the narratives to the loss of innocence and to trials by fire, sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally. Strickland connects Twilight as a series to a wider ‘chronology’16 of young adult fiction. Though the term ‘young adult’ was developed in the US library system in the 1960s to refer to novels written for teenage readerships, it was more commonly applied to social realist books dramatising adolescent ‘dramas and anxieties.17 A connection is made to a US demographic shift occurring in the early 1990s, resulting in a greater teen market by the end of the millennium: the greatest benefit of this was felt in publishing terms by JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.18 For Strickland, the ‘influence’19 of the Harry Potter books and films, and their adoption of initially straightforward quest narratives and well-understood tropes of supernatural fantasy literature, was hugely significant. Meyer’s Twilight series came into print at the right ‘time’20 to benefit from both the end of the Potter publishing cycle, and the need for the children who had grown up with the Potter books to progress to more adult-themed material. 15 David W Brown, ‘How Young Adult Fiction Came of Age’, The Atlantic. <http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/08/how-young-adult-fiction-came-of- age/242671/ > [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 16 Ashley Strickland, ‘A Brief History of Young Adult Literature’, CNN. <http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/15/living/young-adult-fiction-evolution/> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 17 Strickland 18 Strickland 19 Strickland 20 Strickland
  4. 4. Thomas Colleran 4 The film version of New Moon represents something of a development from Twilight. The first film grossed ‘$393,616,78821 against a ‘$37 million’22 budget, with the sequel grossing almost twice as much; ‘$709,711,008’.23 Though the first film was a success, the second film was a blockbuster, and represented the viability of production companies’ investments in young adult fantasy series’ for adaptation. New Moon develops Twilight’s narrative of the love story between human Bella Swan and vampire Edward Cullen. Bella is separated from Edward when she almost dies after an accident where her blood is drunk. Visions prophesy that Bella will become a vampire. Estranged from Edward, Bella becomes attracted to her ‘friend’ Jacob. Eventually, though, Bella travels to Italy to be reconciled with Edward. The Cullen clan, then, vote to permit Bella’s turning to vampirism; Edward agrees to perform the rite once they have been married. The film makes certain changes from the book, some of which will be analysed below, but in general terms, it accords with the source material in tone, which indicates that there is some correlation with Elliot’s ‘psychic concept’.24 There is a commitment to translating the authorial intent over from book to film. Similarly, there is a fidelity in narrative terms, which would also suggest a concordance with Elliot’s ‘genetic 21 Box Office Mojo, ‘Twilight (2008)’, Box Office Mojo. <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=twilight08.htm> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 22 Nicole Sperling, ‘“Twilight” Hits Hollywood’, Entertainment Weekly. <http://www.ew.com/article/2008/07/16/twilight-hits-hollywood> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 23 Box Office Mojo, ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)’, Box Office Mojo. <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=newmoon.htm > [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 24 Kamilla Elliott, Rethinking the Novel/Film Debate (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 135
  5. 5. Thomas Colleran 5 concept’,25 too. Ken Gelder comments on a commitment to ‘fidelity’26 by the filmmakers: the books had first been optioned by Paramount Pictures who had worked for three years ‘tinkering with them, substantially altering the narratives and characters […] however, they finally abandoned the franchise’,27 selling off the rights to Summit Entertainment. Gelder ‘observes’28 that Summit chose fidelity as a working approach to the series, having the novels’ author to validate screenplays by Melissa Rosenberg, who was retained through the series as the screenwriter for the follow-on films. Gelder makes the ‘link’29 between the moves towards concordance between the films and the source material as being at least in part driven by a need to satisfy the expectations of a large, engaged and ‘social media-savvy’ fan base. Mark Cunningham makes similar observations regarding adapting the series, noting the perceived ‘need’30 in the filmmakers to concord with the source material, and the validation of this approach through the films’ ‘successes’.31 Chatman, in approaching narrative adaptation from a structuralist perspective, distinguishes between what he terms ‘kernels’32 and satellites. Kernels being decision points in the story which ‘cannot be deleted without destroying the narrative’,33 and satellites being comparatively minor plot points which may be removed from the wider 25 Elliot, p. 230 26 Ken Gelder, New Vampire Cinema (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), p. 85 27 Ken Gelder, New Vampire Cinema (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), p. 85 28 Gelder, p. 85 29 Gelder, p. 85 30 Mark Cunningham, ‘Travelling in the Same Boat: Adapting Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse to Film’, in Genre, Reception, and Adaptation in the Twilight Series, ed. by Anne Morey (Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2012), pp. 199–214 31 Cunningham, pp. 213-14 32 Seymour Benjamin Chatman, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 53-55 33 Chatman, p. 53
  6. 6. Thomas Colleran 6 narrative without compromising its structure. The broad compatibility in significant plot terms between the source novel and adaptation of New Moon implies that a consideration of satellites, rather than kernels, may be more productive. Meyer notes the similarities in one interview: ‘New Moon stays closer to the novel, so there aren’t a lot of scenes that aren’t closely related to the book’.34 An example of a satellite point is the film that Bella, Jacob, and Mike make a trip to watch. In the novel, the film is a zombie horror called Crosshairs. In the adaptation, though, the film they see is an action piece called Face Punch. Similarly, in the novel, there is a passage of time that represents Bella’s depression while being separated from Edward. This is represented by blank pages to indicate the months from September to January. Such an effect would not translate to the cinema and so a substitution was devised. In the film, Bella now ‘sits listless in front of her window as the camera moves around her to show the changing seasons outside. The trick captures her melancholia’35 and is accompanied by a suitably atmospheric music cue. Thomas Leitch comments that film adaptations often seek not to ‘reproduce’36 the novelistic original, but work to find ways that parallel the reading experience as well as the narrative and character elements within the text. There is a tension here between creativity for the filmmakers and adherence to the original (and perhaps to the fan base of franchise properties such as the Twilight series) to navigate. Leitch 34 Stephenie Meyer, ‘New Moon The Movie Q and A’, StephenieMeyer.com. <http://stepheniemeyer.com/nm_movie_qanda.html > [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 35 ‘Twilight Series Article: 20 Differences (that Work) between “New Moon” and the Book’, Fanpop, <http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/twilight-series/articles/35488/title/20-differences-work-between-moon- book> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] 36 Thomas M Leitch, ‘Twelve Fallacies in Contemporary Adaptation Theory’, Project Muse. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/crt.2004.0001>, pp. 166-67
  7. 7. Thomas Colleran 7 ‘sees’37 that one of the problematic aspects of adaptation studies is a fixation with the idea of the primacy of the original text being adapted, even when that original is drawn from many sources. Chris Weitz’s New Moon adaptation has something of an obligation to faithfulness to its source, but that source, the novel New Moon, has no such obligation. It draws widely from native American and European folk stories, incorporating the female-protagonist fantasy properties that Gelder links ‘explicitly’38 to the impact and influence of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.39 The book also models itself explicitly on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This is not merely in general plot terms, but to the extent of the link being underscored in the adaptation through a classroom scene where Edward and Bella are watching the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film version.40 And in which Edward recites along with the Romeo playing on the television screen in the class. This adaptation, in short, must be faithful to the source, though the source has been free to indulge in intertextuality. Mendlesohn and James see the series as part of a broader cycle of popular paranormal romance series’ in the mid-2000s. This ‘form of fantasy looks just like its adult progenitors, but with younger protagonists, more lurve and less sex’,41 they note. The Twilight series is seen, here, as not only the brand leader in which ‘an innocent young thing falls in love with a vampire and struggles to preserve her purity was a great hit with young female readers’,42 but as the most notable series in a developing 37 Leitch, p. 168 38 Gelder, p. 84 39 Buffy the Vampire Slayer, dir. by Joss Whedon (20th Television, 1997) 40 Romeo and Juliet, dir. by Franco Zeffirelli (De Laurentiis, 1968) 41 Farah Mendlesohn and Edward James, A Short History of Fantasy (United Kingdom: Middlesex University Press, 2009), p. 206 42 Mendlesohn and James, p. 206
  8. 8. Thomas Colleran 8 subgenre of dark fantasy that mixes well-known speculative fiction tropes with a puritanical and morally conservative agenda. Elsewhere, the analysis has been less patronisingly dismissive. Roz Kaveney makes the case for the relevance for a consideration of the particular handling of the erotic in the series. Here, the books (and by extension, the films, including New Moon) are of interest, and invite criticism, because they can be read as ‘platforms for the author’s strong views about sexual abstinence’.43 For Kaveney, there is an odd tension between heroine Bella’s pursuit of Edward Cullen throughout the first two books (and films), which is the driving narrative force until at least the climax of New Moon, though the relationship remains sexually unconsummated. Once this point has been reached in the series narrative, Kaveney notes, the focus shifts to ‘broader’44 narrative complications, to the nature of the friendship with werewolf Jacob, and to Bella and Edward’s offspring. The texts are seen as propagandist in terms of their support for premarital celibacy in ways which are restrictive, morally conservative, and oppositional to feminist ‘thinking’.45 Kaveney links this to a broader trend in paranormal romance and dark fantasy, in which the supernatural codifies issues of race and sexuality, positioning them as ‘the other’, and as transgressive. The thing to be scared of in New Moon, it seems, is not warring clans of vampires, nor even shapeshifters, but of young adult female sexuality. 43 Roz Kaveney, ‘Dark Fantasy and Paranormal Romance’, in The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, ed. by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), p 220 44 Kaveney, p. 220 45 Kaveney, p. 220
  9. 9. Thomas Colleran 9 Laing, writing in the context of the publicity drive accompanying the release of New Moon into UK cinemas, examines the point about abstinence with reference to the series author’s background and personal beliefs. ‘Links’46 are drawn to Meyer’s Mormon upbringing, education and continuing faith, as informing the abstinence agenda visible throughout the Twilight universe in its various iterations. Laing characterises Meyer as feeling a parental obligation to her readership, exemplifying this with reference to the close relationship Meyer fosters through social media and personal appearances. She also references Meyer’s support of non-profit fan fiction set in the Twilight universe. This support, as acknowledged by Laing, goes to the extent of uploading fan fiction to her official website, and to abandoning works in progress (such as MidnightSun, a partial first draft which had been leaked online, with the project subsequently discontinued) as her intended story was considered problematic by her fan base. The abandoned project, Midnight Sun, was intended to have reworked the Twilight storyline from Edward’s perspective, rather than telling it from Bella’s point of view as the original novels ‘had done’.47 Meyer posted the ‘problematic’ material on her website so that readers could see it for themselves without having to illegally download it, which further reinforces her want of, and endorsements of, being ‘honest’.48 The theme of honesty, and indeed religion, is pertinent through the Twilight cycle. From a religious perspective, as noted by Gravett, the design and intent of parts of the 46 Olivia Laing, ‘Stephenie Meyer - a Squeaky-Clean Vampire Queen’, The Guardian. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/nov/15/profile-stephenie-meyer-vampire-queen> [Accessed 17th of April 2016] 47 Sandra Gravett, From Twilight to Breaking Dawn: Religious Themes in the Twilight Saga (St Louis, MI: Chalice Press, 2010), p. 4 48 Laing
  10. 10. Thomas Colleran 10 series are deliberately overt. Edward and Bella, for example, are modelled on Biblical figures. Edward Cullen is seen in this analysis as a ‘substitute’49 figure for Christ, with his absence for much of the narrative arc of New Moon placing him in a position analogous to the Holy Ghost. Bella is ‘seen’50 as representative of the Virgin Mary in some aspects of the story, and as the Old Testament figure of Eve in others. She is used to represent and articulate questions of purity and innocence, and also of temptation and transgressive desires. The implication of this is that New Moon is not merely informed by a faith-based moral perspective that advocates regressive notions of abstinence and the worth of pre-marital chastity, but that these are articulated through character design that draws on Christian religious archetypes. New Moon, in its various forms, may be seen to function as a polemical text informed by the series author’s Mormon worldview. Furthermore, Gelder takes a genre-based ‘focus’51 and is interested in the ways in which New Moon plays with the codes and conventions of the vampire film and teen romance. At the start of New Moon, Bella is terrified by a vision of herself as an older woman (age and its perceived threats is a theme throughout the film). This is reinforced by parental jokes about grey hairs and by Bella’s developing obsession with her passing years. Vampirism offers a way out of this: we are encouraged to see Bella considering this as the only workable option to keep her young forever. ‘As a consequence of these fears, Bella becomes less cautious in her encounters as the narrative of New Moon develops’.52 49 Gravett, p. 5 50 Gravett, p. 27 51 Gelder, p. 87 52 Gelder, p. 87
  11. 11. Thomas Colleran 11 One aspect of New Moon which Gelder finds of particular ‘interest’53 is the way in which it takes native American culture as a focal point. Bella learns about vampires through a native American-informed perspective, Jacob discusses the territorial implications in New Moon of the treaties between his kind and the likes of the Cullens. Here, Bella is the one who is invading: both the Cullens and Jacob respect their cultures and their respective territories, whereas it is she who is the transgressive one in terms of the ways that she simultaneously entices both males, and threatens them through her disregard for old alliances and agreements. As Gelder notes, ‘[a]s a consequence, the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob is remarkable fragile and volatile: not quite catastrophic […] but close to it at times’.54 Gelder critiques the ways in which the Twilight series is often depicted as being supportive of sexually conservative Christian-informed ‘moral positions’.55 He sees Bella as a strong and wilful character, and more in control of her own destiny and urges than either Edward or Jacob. In New Moon, after leaving the cinema with Jessica, Bella is assertive with the bikers she meets outside, and uses the encounter with them not just for her own enjoyment, but to exert some control over Edward. This develops to the extent that Bella takes on an independent interest in motorcycles, demonstrating this when she helps Jacob working on bikes in a garage scene. Bella’s agency is again highlighted in the way that she journeys to Italy to save the suicidal ‘Edward’56 (again, there are references to Romeo and Juliet both in the setting and in 53 Gelder, p. 88 54 Gelder, p. 89 55 Gelder, p. 90 56 Gelder, p. 91
  12. 12. Thomas Colleran 12 the plot kernel here). In Italy, when Bella confronts the Volturi vampires, their head, Aro, is swayed by Bella’s resolve and supports her. Gelder is interested in the mechanisms by which New Moon is at once a slow-paced and at times clichéd love triangle romance, and also finds ways in which Bella exhibits ‘control and agency’.57 That said, Gelder also notes how New Moon simultaneously subverts horror films and faces up to the lack of overt horrific material within the film itself by confining bloodthirsty violence to the film-within-the-film Face Punch, which repulses viewer Michael, having to leave the auditorium to vomit, who is both disgusted by the images and of Bella and Jacob. There is something of a joke here: Face Punch contains the violent genre material that New Moon cannot, and the characters within the film Bella is watching are involved in adventures that she cannot indulge in as she is herself featuring in a Twilight franchise film. For Gelder, this is a scene of self-parody, which acknowledges the genre considerations and pleasures that New Moon, and the wider franchise, are unable to indulge in, preferring instead to focus on the ‘fetishizing of a beautiful, banal male vampire’.58 Where Gelder is open to nuance and to competing tendencies within New Moon, and to investigating support for the notion that the piece is not wholly driven by a conservative moral agenda, other commentators are less forgiving. Seifert sees the Twilight franchise as codifying and popularising a tendency in the United States of media formats which both objectify and prioritise the value of female virginity and teen abstinence. Seifert defines four elements which link virginity to value systems and 57 Gelder, p. 91 58 Gelder, p. 92
  13. 13. Thomas Colleran 13 codes of conduct which support the conservative message of avoidance of sexual ‘activity’.59 These are: innocence and general attitude of naivety, submissiveness to male decision-making and supervision, lack of agency despite seemingly-irresistible emotional and physical craving, even in dangerous situations, and attraction to hazardous characters and circumstances that jeopardise virginity. In New Moon, Bella’s indulgence in motorcycling is seen by Seifert as an example of the ‘second’60 of these tropes, with Bella putting herself in danger so that she can be saved by Edward. Throughout the series of films, Edward is shown behaving in a paternalistic fashion, watching over Bella while she sleeps. Bella is shown as making bad decisions which imperil her, but this is in a way enjoyable because it triggers masculine and paternal attention and protection from Edward. His constant vigilance, it may be argued, makes ‘Bella feel important and loved’.61 As evidenced by the prophetic elements in New Moon showing that Bella is destined to become a vampire, she is robbed of any agency because her future has been determined in advance. Furthermore, Bella’s uniqueness as a character comes in the series not because of any aspect of her own nature or character, but because of Edward’s attention. She is special because she is special to Edward, who has never experienced anyone like her before. For Seifert, it is ‘Edward’s agency – his destiny meshed with hers – that guides Bella’s major life decisions, including her decision [in New Moon] to become a vampire’.62 When Edward is absent from the narrative, Bella indulges in reckless behaviour so that she can hear his voice in her head. She is shown as desiring the 59 Christine Seifert, Virginity in Young Adult Literature after Twilight (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), p. 13 60 Seifert, p. 13 61 Seifert, p. 14 62 Seifert, p, 15
  14. 14. Thomas Colleran 14 sensation of protection over and above any independence or agency that committing the acts that invoke it might imply. The tropes prevalent in New Moon are supportive of the idea that female virginity is associated with moral worth, goodness and positive difference from others. The Twilight series’ success has codified these attributes, and to some extent, they can be considered appropriate to the genre. In such series, human female virgin protagonists are often partnered with older male protectors imbued with a supernatural qualities. A female antagonist is often present, and this character is sexually active. Desire is expressed in the protagonist and in their protector, but this remains unconsummated despite temptation and opportunity until such time as the virgin heroine’s innate purity can be retained through commitment via marriage. As Seifert puts it, the ‘heroine’s treasured virginity is safe in the hands of the only man who will ever love her.63 Elsewhere, Seifert notes ‘commonality’64 in young adult film and book series’ outside of the paranormal romance subgenre. Dystopian series’, such as The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent, variously downplay the female lead’s sexual self, or find mechanisms by which the narratives do not have to deal with the character as an active sexual being. The Hunger Games provides an example. Katniss Everdeen and her partner, Peeta, form an arranged relationship through the concocted ‘games’. Though an on-off relationship develops, Katniss’, nor Peeta’s, sexual desires are overtly represented. As noted by Seifert, ‘Katniss is not a blissfully happy bride. She and Peeta both suffer from the trauma of what they’ve been through’.65 Neither of the 63 Seifert, p. 24 64 Seifert, pp. 55-85 65 Seifert, pp. 55-56
  15. 15. Thomas Colleran 15 film’s protagonists, at any point throughout the series, express their desires, as they are instead concealed by their ‘bond’ to fight against the enemy. Moreover, Cohen considers the cultural significance of the monsters that societies invoke, and proposes seven ways of understanding them; this final section examines New Moon through the lenses offered by his monster theory approach. First, Cohen proposes that the monster signifies cultural fears and ‘anxieties’,66 and that to understand society better, one needs to consider the monsters that are fixated upon in that society. Here, there is a temptation to see that the monster in New Moon, and throughout the book and film series, is Bella, rather than the various supernatural creatures and networks that the narrative investigates. Bella is the destabilising influence. She brings, ultimately, not only internal but physical conflict. In addition, Bella represents, as has been indicated above, an embodiment of a cultural fear of the sexualised feminine - the monster is not just the human female, but her potential as a sexual being, which must be controlled and repressed, and she must be protected from herself by paternalistic others. Indeed, the threat is so strong that a supernatural agency is required in order to corral this particular ‘beast’. The implication is that this sexual urge is so powerful that it is beyond human female control. Second, for Cohen, the monster always ‘exists’67: it perpetuates. Cohen discusses earlier vampire narratives in which the supernatural antagonist is an external sexualised menace - from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles novels, this ‘remains constant’.68 66 Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, ‘Monster Culture: Seven Theses’, in Monster Theory: Reading Culture, ed. by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), p. 4 67 Cohen, p. 5 68 Cohen, p. 5
  16. 16. Thomas Colleran 16 In New Moon, however, this is inverted: the film (and the wider series) is concerned with the threat of the non-supernatural, the local, and the female as opposed to the male. Towards the film’s climax, however, Bella becomes an external threat, through her travels to Italy and her meetings with the Volturi. Where Cohen notes ‘variously’69 that foreignness, homosexuality, and HIV/AIDS are discussed through the metaphor of the monster in vampire cinema. In New Moon, the monstrous element can be seen as a human teenage female with no supernatural powers. For Cohen, then, the monster ‘polices the borders of the possible’,70 and is both a gatekeeper and a warning of the dangers of venturing into forbidden or unexplored territory. Bella patrols various borderlands through New Moon: the treaty between the werewolves and the Cullens, the authority of the Volturi, the geographies of Washington state and Italy, relationship boundaries between herself, Jacob and Edward, and even boundaries of taste and violence in the cinema visit sequence. In her patrols she signifies danger, not necessarily for herself – indeed, she is shielded by her demanding Edward’s protection – but for the others who associate and come into conflict with her. Cohen also sees the monstrous figure as a desire for ‘forbidden’71 knowledge. It is sexual knowledge, particularly through Bella, which is explored in New Moon. Thereby conforming to Cohen’s ‘becoming’72 notion, which occurs once that knowledge has been taken on board. For Bella, at the end of New Moon, this is the transition from 69 Cohen, p. 5 70 Cohen, p. 12 71 Cohen, pp. 17-20 72 Cohen, p. 20
  17. 17. Thomas Colleran 17 human to vampire, from ageing mortal to undying eighteen-year-old, from virgin to wife. For Edward, it is the consummation of his fascination with her. Edward will stay the same, still a vampire, still eternal, but the monstrous Bella will become so much more. This essay has considered Chris Weitz’s film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s New Moon in a range of contexts. First, as a successful, and thus influential film which led to the burgeoning young adult fantasy film market being pursued by adaptations of other novel series. Second, as a faithful adaptation, that faithfulness mandated by a large and vocal fan base, and by an involved series author: appropriate taxonomical ideas have been articulated here. Third, as a morally and politically conservative piece concerned with disseminating its source material’s preoccupation with teen abstinence and with the idealisation of female purity through virginity. Fourth, as being influential in terms of its moral perspective. Critical approaches interested in other aspects of New Moon have been introduced, which indicate that the film text is open to a multiplicity of readings. Finally, a consideration of Cohen’s monster theory has investigated the proposition that New Moon can be understood as indicating, despite the array of supernatural creatures involved in the narrative, that Bella, and the potential for human female sexuality that she represents, is the monstrous force in the film’s narrative.
  18. 18. Thomas Colleran 18 Bibliography: Chatman, Seymour Benjamin, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980) Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, ‘Monster Culture: Seven Theses’, in Monster Theory: Reading Culture, ed. by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), pp. 1–25 Collins, Suzanne, The Hunger Games (London: Scholastic, 2009) Cunningham, Mark, ‘Travelling in the Same Boat: Adapting Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse to Film’, in Genre, Reception, and Adaptation in the
  19. 19. Thomas Colleran 19 Twilight Series, ed. by Anne Morey (Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2012), pp. 199–214 Dashner, James, The Maze Runner (United Kingdom: Chicken House, 2014) Elliott, Kamilla, Rethinking the Novel/Film Debate (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009) Gelder, Ken, New Vampire Cinema (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) Gravett, Sandra, From Twilight to Breaking Dawn: Religious Themes in the Twilight Saga (St Louis, MI: Chalice Press, 2010) Kaveney, Roz, ‘Dark Fantasy and Paranormal Romance’, in The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, ed. by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 214–23 Mendlesohn, Farah, and Edward James, A Short History of Fantasy (United Kingdom: Middlesex University Press, 2009) Meyer, Stephenie, Breaking Dawn (London: Atom Books, 2010) Meyer, Stephenie, Eclipse (London: Atom Books, 2008) Meyer, Stephenie, New Moon (London: Atom Books, 2007) Meyer, Stephenie, Twilight (London: Atom Books, 2006) Roth, Veronica, Divergent (London: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013) Seifert, Christine, Virginity in Young Adult Literature after Twilight (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015)
  20. 20. Thomas Colleran 20 Webography: Box Office Mojo, ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)’, Box Office Mojo. <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=newmoon.htm> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] Box Office Mojo, ‘Twilight (2008)’, Box Office Mojo. <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=twilight08.htm> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] Brown, David W, ‘How Young Adult Fiction Came of Age’, The Atlantic. <http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/08/how-young-adult-fiction- came-of-age/242671/> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] Debarros, Anthony, Mary Cadden, Kristin DeRamus, and Christopher Schnaars, ‘Best-Selling Books: The Annual Top 100 2009’, USA Today. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2010-01-05-top-books- 2009_N.htm> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] ‘Twilight Series Article: 20 Differences (that Work) between “New Moon” and the Book’, Fanpop. <http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/twilight-series/articles/35488/title/20- differences-work-between-moon-book> [Accessed 15th of April 2016]
  21. 21. Thomas Colleran 21 Finke, Nikki, ‘New Moon Shreds Movie Records’, Deadline Hollywood. <http://deadline.com/2009/11/phenomenal-breaking-records-new-moon-doing-dark- knight-midnight-numbers-18958/#more-18958> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] Hardiman, Michael, ‘Fitting in Means Reading Some Truly Awful Stuff’, Splice Today. <http://www.splicetoday.com/digital/fitting-in-means-reading-some-truly-awful-stuff> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] Laing, Olivia, ‘Stephenie Meyer - a Squeaky-Clean Vampire Queen’, The Guardian. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/nov/15/profile-stephenie-meyer-vampire- queen> [Accessed 17th of April 2016] Leitch, Thomas M, ‘Twelve Fallacies in Contemporary Adaptation Theory’, Project Muse. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/crt.2004.0001 [Accessed 17th of April 2016] Meyer, Stephenie, ‘New Moon The Movie Q and A’, StephenieMeyer.com. <http://stepheniemeyer.com/nm_movie_qanda.html> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] ‘Box Office History for Twilight Franchise Movies’, Nash Information Services. <http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/franchise/Twilight#tab=summary> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] Rosenberg, Alyssa, ‘From “Harry Potter” to “Twilight,” the Enduring Draw of Young Adult Fiction’, The Atlantic. <http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/05/from-harry-potter-to- twilight-the-enduring-draw-of-young-adult-fiction/239639/> [Accessed 15th of April 2016]
  22. 22. Thomas Colleran 22 Sperling, Nicole, ‘“Twilight” Hits Hollywood’, Entertainment Weekly. <http://www.ew.com/article/2008/07/16/twilight-hits-hollywood> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] Strickland, Ashley, ‘A Brief History of Young Adult Literature’, CNN. <http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/15/living/young-adult-fiction-evolution/> [Accessed 15th of April 2016] Filmography: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, dir. by Condon, Bill, (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2012) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I, dir. by Condon, Bill, (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2011) The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, dir. by Slade, David (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2010) Twilight, dir. by Hardwicke, Catherine (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2008)
  23. 23. Thomas Colleran 23 The Twilight Saga: New Moon, dir. by Weitz, Chris (USA: Summit Entertainment, 2009) Romeo and Juliet, dir. by Zeffirelli, Franco (De Laurentiis, 1968)

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