Breaking Dawn Part 1—Movie Review

Review by Stacey Tuttle

Edward:  “If Sam comes after Bella, are you really prepared to fight your brothers, your sister?
Seth:  “If it’s the right thing to do.”

Breaking Dawn, Part 1 centers around how we define our loyalties and where we draw our battle lines.  Bella’s involvement with the Cullens, particularly her marriage to Edward, is the catalyst which brings the tension between the vampires and the werewolves to a head.  The two clans have maintained peace through a treaty, but suddenly the application of that treaty, it’s interpretation, is called into question. 

The treaty states that the werewolves (Quileute’s) will leave the vampires (Cullens) alone, so long as they do not harm humans.  But, what happens when a human asks to become a vampire?  Is that harming a human?  The werewolves think so, but Bella obviously does not, although she does admit that she has a “blatant lack of respect for mortality.” Either way, Bella’s desires suddenly bring the interpretation of the treaty to the spotlight.  It really comes down a matter of whether the letter of the law is more important, or the heart of the law. 

Kind of reminds me of when Jesus came to earth.  Time and time again he crossed with Jewish tradition.  But when the religious leaders confronted him on it, he was quick to reinterpret the law in a fresh way, a way they hadn’t really seen it before.  Frankly, this became divisive.  Jesus was reinterpreting the boundaries and he drew fresh lines in the sand, asking people to choose which side they were on.  For example, he healed someone on the Sabbath day, a day reserved exclusively for rest .  How did he justify his actions?  He asked the religious leaders this:  “’Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent.”[1]  The religious leaders had gotten so focused on the letter of the law, they couldn’t see the heart of it.  Jesus put a spotlight on the heart behind the law. 

In Breaking Dawn the werewolf pack became divided in their loyalties.   Tradition said they should follow the leader of the pack.  The only problem was, they now had two leaders to choose from:  Jacob broke away from the pack leadership, which was unheard of.  Jacob decided to go his own way and do what he felt he had to do for Bella.  Now the rest of the pack had a choice to make.  Where was their allegiance?  Was their allegiance to the pack leader, or to their conscience?  This was a choice none of them had previously had to face. 

Two of the werewolves decided to follow Jacob: Seth and Leah.  Leah wasn’t so much following her conscience as she was desperate for an escape from the pain of her broken heart.  (Her ex was the leader of the pack, Sam.  To make it even more complicated, in the pack, everyone can read your thoughts—talk about no privacy as you try to heal from a broken heart!)  Seth, however, was willing to do what he felt was right, even if it meant fighting against his brothers and sister.  He broke with tradition that he might act with conviction. 

Interestingly, following Jesus often requires that same kind of conviction and sacrifice.  Jesus said that to follow him you must hate your father and mother, even yourself.[2]  That sounds awful out of context…even in context it can be hard to swallow.  It’s not that you hate your parents for the sake of being hateful.    The real point is that, if it comes down to it and you have to choose between your family and Jesus, you choose Jesus.  If it comes down to renouncing Jesus or losing your life, you sacrifice your life. 

Seth didn’t hate his siblings at all.  Neither did he want to have to fight them, but Jacob knew that if Seth followed him, he might have to make a choice between his siblings and following Jacob.  He wanted Seth to count the cost before he signed up.  Frankly, Jacob needed to know he could trust his pack, his followers.  Jesus does the same thing with us.  He knows what following him will mean.  He knows that it may cost us greatly to be his disciple.  In fact, he says it will cost us greatly to be his followers[3].  He asks us to count the costs, to take up our cross and to follow him.[4] 

Questions for Discussion:

  • The battle lines are drawn.  Where does your loyalty lie? 
  • Are you bound to tradition?  To the letter of the law? 
  • Are you following people, or are you following conviction, determined to do what’s right? 
  • Who is your leader?  Are you fully committed to him? 
  • Have you counted the cost of following Jesus?
  • What are examples in your own life when you have had to choose how to interpret the law? 
  • Do you tend to follow the letter of the law, or the heart of the law?
  • Have you ever had to choose between doing what you knew was right, and following people who you loved (or really liked)?
  • Have you ever chosen to do something that you knew would cost you greatly?  Why did you choose it?

Don’t miss out on some of our other Twilight Saga resources!!!

 Some great books have been written to help you think through whether this is harmless escapism, provides meaningful teaching opportunities, or has some dangerous implications.  SPM has provided a “Cliff Notes” version of several of these books to help you think through it all.  Check out our Twilight Series Resource Page to find out all the various resources we have to offer!

Click here to see our collection of Breaking Dawn Part 1 Quotes. 

[1] Mark 3:1-6 contains the passage.

[2] Luke 14:26

[3] Luke 14:25-33

[4] I want to clarify one thing.  I chose to focus on ways this movie could parallel the Christian life.  That doesn’t mean I am in real support of the movie and its contents.  To be honest, I was disturbed by the intense level of sexuality…ESPECIALLY when the movie is targeted toward a high school audience.  When you get married, you go alone on your honeymoon, for a reason—it’s a private thing.  I don’t think the whole world needs to be accompanying Bella and Edward on their very private honeymoon.  I am concerned about the effects of so many of our youth (not that it’s less damaging for the older audience) watching such emotionally and sexually charged scenes.  This is certainly not my only concern with the movie, but it is an obvious one.  I feel I would be remiss to leave the review with all these parallels to the Christian life, without pausing to mention some caution, lest some reader take this as a blatant endorsement.  It is not an endorsement, but it is a hope that some good might come of it if you do choose to see it or interact with others who have seen it.