The romantic vampire film Twilight has been enjoying worldwide success since its release in the States four years ago. But is it better to watch the movie or read the book, asks Mohamed Sameh
When the first part of Twilight came to screen some years ago, audiences argued whether the movie was similar to the New York Times bestselling book or not, particularly after all the talk that had circulated about it. The consensus seems to be that while both the book and the movie are successful, most believe it is better to read the book.
According to Stephenie Meyer, the book's author, her work is about "romance more than anything else". The series of which it is a part explores the unconventional romance between human being Bella and vampire Edward. It avoids provocative sex, drugs, or swearing. Meyer writes the books using a first-person narrator, telling events primarily through Bella's eyes to the conclusion of the third book, with part of the fourth being from Jacob's point of view and attracting more teenagers to it.
Twenty-year-old Yara Sameh, in her second year at the Faculty of Mass Communication at Cairo University, said she liked the movie more than the book. What attracted her was the cast and the way the director had found a setting for the book. She also liked characters like Jasper, a vampire who had been a young major in the confederate army in Texas during his human days, Alice, a vampire seer, and Rosalina, a vicious but beautiful vampire. What Sameh liked most was the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob, who also loves Bella.
Sameh loved the plot of the book and found it interesting because Twilight vampires differ from regular ones. "Twilight vampires have strong, piercing teeth rather than fangs; they glitter in sunlight rather than bursting into flames; and they drink animal as well as human blood," she points out. The movie was true to more than 90 per cent of the book, she said.
In Sameh's view, both book and movie have had a strong influence on teenagers. "Female teenagers fall in love with Edward, while male ones complain that their girlfriends have lost interest in them and became obsessed with the book," she said. Twilight can have a bad influence on some teenagers, she added, because girls compare their boyfriends to Edward Cullen, the vampire who is one of the main characters in the movie, and then find them wanting.
She believes that the choice of actors for the movie was brilliant, and the music adds to the experience. "The movie's interest ranges between romance, action, suspense, and humour. All this falls under the genre of young-adult fantasy, making it one of the best on-screen romances of the decade," she said.
However, not everyone is a fan of vampire movies or vampire books. Menna Hossam, a 21-year-old student in the Faculty of Engineering, said that she was not attracted to the movie and found the romance element to be excessive. In general, she is not a fan of science-fiction movies, though she admits that the movie has had an impact on teenagers, its target audience. She suggests that the love story between the two main characters, Bella and Edward, could explain that.
Engineering student Ahmed Mahmoud, 20, did not like the movie either, because in his view it does not contain any new ideas. "It's full of the same ideas and the same love story," he said. "Nothing new was added to the second or third parts of the movie." However, Mahmoud believes that the movie is successful and has had a positive impact on teenagers, teaching them to be loyal to each other, for example.
Twenty-seven-year-old Laura Griffin also did not like the Twilight movies. "They were alright, but very cheesy, and I felt that whatever makes the books so good had somehow been left out of the films. I watched the movies because I love the books. They are among my favourite novels of all time," she said. Griffin said that she thought the books could have an impact on teenagers by teaching them to abstain from sex. The film was a modern-day version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, she said.
"I feel the books are successful due to their familiarity with the Romeo and Juliet theme, whilst being completely new and unique when compared to other books on the market aimed at a similar age group," Griffin explained. To her, the books are very well-written and easy to read. The characters are likeable, and many girls would be able to relate to Bella in some way. "The plot does not drag, yet it does not rush ahead either," she added.
Film critic Hani Mustafa commented that the three main actors in the first part of Twilight were very good, and they were suitably good-looking. Although the actors were generally acting for the first time in the movies, they had all done well. "The target audience for Twilight is made up of teenagers, who compose the majority of movie audiences in the United States," Mustafa said. "The Twilight movies are an attempt to create romantic movies that have elements of action and horror as well," he added.
The audience could have been attracted to them by the concentration on feelings, a message directed towards teenagers, as well as the visual effects and the strong relationship between the vampire and the humans. "I liked the movie, but I didn't see the other parts. It didn't attract me that much," he added.
Sixteen-year-old high-school student Emilie enjoyed both the books and the movies, but she did not like the movie characters of Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, even though she said that these had been very well written in the books. "The issues that Bella faces in the books and movies relate to those of many teenagers, such as friendship problems, relationship problems, home life, and so on," she said.
Though Meyer did an amazing job in writing the books, Emilie added, "vampires never sparkle. It is annoying that she had to go and mess that up."