18 February, 2009

What's my line?

Dang rumors are running rampant, are they not? Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Soloman... nuts! The past two weeks have been manic in my world as well, and I think I've actually been living the crazy life of a real PhD student recently- up at 7am, in bed around midnight, and literally working that ENTIRE time. Nuts! Things are rockin' and rolling though. Planning conferences, teaching classes, examining methodology, organizing the academic elements of TwiCon(If you're coming to TwiCon and want to share something, there's a new call for papers up! You can present a Twilight-themed paper or sit on a Twilight-themed panel), and lots of international office (my part-time job) news- I'm coming Stateside! My University's International Office is sending me to Boston and San Francisco for college fairs, and of course I'm going to turn it into a partial research trip as well and hopefully hitting up Portland and perhaps Vancouver :) ...and oh yeah, my first chapter is due in four days. It's fiiiine...

But my focus for today is not ranting about my levels of busy... that's dull. Instead I'm going to explore something I've been mulling over recently with Twilight. I can't wait until I have a copy of the film in my hands to really tear some of the scenes apart, time things, analyze shots, angles, lighting, cuts etc., but until then I'm contenting myself by thinking about elements that I remember from set that have changed with the finished film, and what thoughts may have gone into the decision to cut things.

The last time I saw Twilight in the cinema was about five weeks ago, and before I went in, I reviewed my notes and the dialogue gathered from the scenes I observed being filmed so I could see what made the cut and what didn't. The interesting thing is that every scene that I observed being filmed had at least three additional lines per scene that didn't make it to the finished film. Some of these lines were straight from the book, some were inventions, some poignant, some hysterical, and a myriad of other adjectives. Some I can see why they were cut, as they weren't integral to the scene or weren't necessary, so they could be removed without compromising the scene, others I really wonder why... the stock answer is 'it always comes down to time.' The film has to be made under a certain time or none but the truly obsessed would be able to stand it for six hours or more (granted that would be a dream come true for many Twilight or Potter fans). So yes, of course time is a factor.

But why some of these lines? Lines that already made it through various drafts and bodies of approval, and that were actually filmed only to end up on the cutting room floor. For example, in the restaurant scene, the dialogue on the day of shooting had a few additional lines that were the only lines of the day to illicit a response from some of the visitors on set.

Bella: You're not getting anything?
Edward: No, I'm on a special diet.
Bella: .... (just a deep breath and then goes into the 'you gotta give me some answers')

It's basic, gets the point across, and shows us that Edward apparently doesn't eat.

But the original response from the day of filming was
Bella: You're not getting anything?
Edward: No, I'm on a special diet.

Bella: What, like South Beach?
Edward: Not exactly (smirk)

It's a minimal change, but it had a few of us chortling out loud, and one guest turned to me and asked, "Is that line about the South Beach diet in the book?" to which I responded, "No, not that one," and she said, "That's great! It's such a heavy movie, it needs that lift." And it did lighten the scene, especially when you could see the incredulous and slightly amused look Rob/Edward gave back to Kristen/Bella.

So why change this? Why remove it? Why was something different from the text there in the first place?

There are a bunch of reasons, and I'm on the trail to discover the definite whys, but I'm speculating on the possible whys in the meantime. I'm thinking it's because yes, that line really did change the tone of the scene. For some, that was a welcome and necessary change from the seriousness of Bella nearly being attacked, a speedy get-away through town, and the weighty understanding between Bella and Edward when she agrees to have dinner with him at The Bloated Toad restaurant. And for others (i.e. the filmmakers) it was outside of the tone that they wanted to maintain for that pivotal moment in Bella and Edward's relationship, and yes, I'm guessing it also came down to time. The finished film was two hours; I'm guessing with all of the extra scenes that they've cut and lines that I've seen removed, it probably ended up somewhere around the 2:30 mark and that wasn't where they wanted it to be, so each scene was dissected and superfluous elements removed and relegated to the 'special features' menu on the dvd.

In the same scene there was another cut- Here's the original dialogue in the film:
Bella: Wait, you said you heard what they were thinking? What, you can read minds?
Edward: I can read every mind here (lists them) but you? Nothing...

And here's what they filmed in April:
Bella: Wait, you said you heard what they were thinking? What, you can read minds? (pause) What am I thinking right now? Wait.... ok, go.

Edward: (smirk) I can read every mind here (lists them) but you? Nothing... it's very frustrating.

I really enjoyed that line because it showed the incredulity of Bella, but also the quick understanding and acceptance that she seems to have for supernatural elements when it comes to people she loves. This then spins directly into her showing us a quirky bit of her personality by challenging Edward to look at what she's thinking... but I liked how she said "wait" like she had to censor her thoughts first :)

I think the scene in the film read well. It was beautifully staged and although particular moments that I appreciated and enjoyed in the text were removed, it kept the inherent elements of the book while adding quirky and unique elements for the film (i.e. going around the room and saying what each person was thinking about, and ending with the biker daydreaming about cats... = rockin'). But this is just an illustration of what editing does. I'm not saying the scene was better or worse for adding or removing these elements, but it does show you how different one film could possibly be from another version of just itself (not to mention from a different director, different cast, different screenwriter etc.), made from the same shots but from different angles or with a line said in a different tone.

-----> I need to go on a 'tone tangent.' The line at the end of this scene when Edward says "I don't have the strength to stay away from you anymore" and Bella responds, "then don't".... the actual line from the script was, "Edward, you don't have to." and Kristen changed it to "then don't," which I think is more effective, stronger, and more Bella-like. Bella can be blunt and brave without being cliche, and I think this line shows that, and I was grateful there was enough fluidity in the script to allow for this change. It didn't feel right to Kristen, the Powers that Be agrees, and she chagned it to what was more natural for her and Bella.... anyway, tangent over.

Okay, that was just the tip of the iceberg, but it's good to get some thoughts down on the page while I'm thinking of them. Of course I often wish that they could include in a film all of my favorite bits from the book, but I understand now that that isn't possible; and, frankly, it would make for a long and dull film, due to the inherent differences in reading a book and reading a film. But I have now been wondering how bits that make it through all of that and are actually filmed end up cut...

Anywho... I'll leave you with this fun tidbit that gives credit to the research of the crew: Rob was having a problem remembering what the square root of pi was and it took multiple takes (no one was frustrated, it just took multiple takes, and by the end we were all chanting the square root of pi... I don't think I'll ever forget it!)... but I overheard Judy, the script supervisor, say to Rob, "You're supposed to have two PhDs, you should know the square root of pi." It's true, Edward apparently went to medical school with Carlisle twice, but this is information only shared in the extra materials of Stephenie Meyer. It's in the extra chapters on her webpage and the interview sessions on The Twilight Lexicon... I got rather excited that not only did the whole cast and most of the crew read the book (unlike other adaptations I know... cough*The Dark is Rising*cough... but they read the extra, peripheral stuff that not even all Twilight fans have read. They did their research, and that pleased me.

Okay, until next time... and also if anyone fancies commenting on this, were there added bits in the film that struck you as 'out of character' for whoever was delivering it? Or what about added bits that you loved and are glad things were changed? Why?


Cathy said...

I'm still not over the "let's fix Bella dinner" scene when she visits the Cullens for the first time. I wonder what in the world the script writer was thinking there.... Totally moved away from the greeting scene as written by Stephanie and had characters acting in ways they never would have, especially Esme.

Gabrielle said...

I absolutely Loved Charlie in the movie. Billy Burke gave him so much personality that wasn't there in the book because he and Bella are pretty much oblivious of eachother. In the movie he's a lot like my dad.... The one thing that just ruined EVERYTHING for me is the fact that they cut out the best line in the whole 4 books; the "enough for forever" bit at the very end. I'm still sulking about that one, in the book it was so sweet and beautiful and perfect and now its gone! :(

Anonymous said...

I really wish they would have had Bella and Edward tell each other they love each other a little more like they did in the book. Also I understand that they had to cut lines but who cares if it would have been 2:30, it would have been worth it! I mean look at Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, the people who had read the books and loved it all went to see it and we would have done the same. I hope they dont shortcut New Moon just to fit into a timeframe.

Anonymous said...

i'm really mad that they didn't put the word dazzle in the movie at all... and they completely cut the meadow scene. i mean, come on... they weren't even in a meadow! they were staring at each other in a forest-clearing.
i'm just glad that catherine is gone, but she should have taken melissa rosenberg with her.

Anonymous said...

so, a few things that bothered me are:
1. where was alice and bella's developing relationship in the movie at all? this SERIOUSLY bothered me...c'mon...at LEAST the pre-prom scene where ALICE dresses up bella at the cullen's house...not bella alone. that in itself shows them getting closer...and a bit of bella's personality too.
2. Edward and Carlisle's relationship-just the respect that edward has for carlisle...it gives us groundwork knowledge of why edward is how he is. morally-wise anyway. i'm upset they didn't include the scene where edward takes bella into carlisle's office and that's where they first learn about the volturi.

other than that, here are the quotes i really missed'
1. Do i dazzle you?- just anything about dazzling
2. nothing more fun than an irritated grizzly bear. c'mon! easy laugh right there
3. it just really bothered me how edward spoke the "you're like a drug to me" line. it came off creepy and wasn't set up well like how it was with his story in the book. that was the only place in the movie i didn't like the acting.
4.alice had a little bit too much fun fabricating evidence.
5. i was not finished kissing you...don't make me come over there.
6. do you want me to bolt the door so you can massacre the unsuspecting townsfolk...and so.

point is, there are so many funny lines, at least by bella, that the could've included. i missed those

Anonymous said...

The "Hold on spidar monkey" line was just odd. Even thinking about it now, it just sounded wrong.

Meleah the Mommy said...

Thank you so much for this post. You are lucky to have such a unique perspective and to be able to share such insights. I agree with everything you said, especially about time. I of course would love to see a 3 or 4 hour Twilight film, but that isn't realistic. A three hour Twilight would never have made the staggering amounts of money that this film has and therefore would have put into serious jeopardy the future of the sequels. I personally think they did a great job of translating the book to film. There are many things they left out that I would have loved to see, but you cannot have everything and I still love the finished product - A LOT.

Again, thank you for sharing, this was a really REALLY fun post to read.

PS. Are you going to be on the New Moon set as well?

GenevieveCullen said...

I think my favourite added line was Shot Gun Charlie's "Alright, bring him in" **cocks gun**

The scene with the poorest deliverance was when Edward and Bella were arguing about leaving and she stutters out something like "Nnno, I-I I don't understand" when James was after her.

The only instances where Bella stutters in the book is when she's embarrassed. Times when she's in danger, she has full understanding of the situation and she's scared but she's in control of her speech. She doesn't want people to worry about her, her feelings are internal. She's strong like that.

I think it was scenes like those that really didn't reflect well on Kirsten's performance.

Anonymous said...

the bit that bothered me the most was how bella managed to get away from alice and jasper so easily to go find james.
but to show that how it was in the book would have eaten at their time quite a lot.
and i agree with GenevieveCullen, the bit where charlie cocks his gun was genius.

Anonymous said...

I love when Edward tells Bella to "google it." I think that is my absolute favorite addition that wasn't in the book.
They added and left out a lot that I really didn't like, too, though. It would be a very long list, so I won't go into it. But I'll just say I hope they are more accurate with New Moon.

ToonEy said...

Hmmm...now that I think about it there were some stuff in the Baseball scene that they changed that I thought was very effective in terms of who delivered the line. IN the vampire Baseball scene...when the nomads arrive and Edward tells Bella to put her hair down, in the book Alice delivers the line, "That won't help. I could smell her across the field" or something like that but in the movie they had Rosalie say it to show the contempt and dislike Rosalie has for Bella. I think Rosalie says something like, "I could smell it across the field" When I saw that first I absolutely thought hey she isn't suppose to say that...but then as I saw it again and again and again and again (you catch my drift) I thought that works fine.

Anonymous said...

I really didn't enjoy the movie at all. it was a disappointment, seeing all the hype about the movie in the first place. heres my list:
1. Meadow scene was messed up- they skipped school. bella was practically dragged there. She sounded scared when she said vampire. edward sounded angry when he said she has to see him in the light.
2. Bella never cooked at home- i think that part was important because it showed how independent she was.
3. Alice had barely any lines
4. rosalie just acted like she was on her period, instead of acting truly angry and jealous of bella.
5. jasper was displayed as a creeper, when he was just cautious, but overall a nice guy.
6. I disliked the two added scenes(ie the tree scene and the greenhouse scene)
7. Edward acted sad and depressed the whole time- in the beginning when bella first meets him shes annoyed by him and thinks he's cocky. I liked the sarcastic book edward better.
8. when bella had to escape at the end she got away from jasper and alice way too easily.
9. the nomads were in forks for a long time before they appeared??? if that was really the case, then edward would have taken way more precautions with bella there.
9. Edward wore sunglasses in one scene- if it was bright enough to wear sunglasses he shouldn't have been there at all!
10. they never acted like they were in love. their relationship went from "uh, hi, you're a little different" to "I'd die for you." because they had to take out all the little parts, the relationship never really grew. it just sort of skipped around.
11. the Blood Type scene was missing- that was my favorite part :(

Okay, so some might call me a purist in the book-to-movie translation sense, but I'm ok with that. they made it into the movie because the book was so great- why would they want to change alot in the first place? unfortunately, i'm not even sure I wasnt to see new Moon. I know there's a new director, but the screenwriters the same, and that makes me sad.

PS Sorry this was so incredibly long, but I've waited for a while to put down everything that I was upset about.

Anonymous said...

The hype surrounding the movie is what led me to start reading the books. Of course, I fell in love with the entire saga. I finally understood the frenzy surrounding the movie, and I was excited to watch it myself. Now, I knew not to expect too much from a film adaptation, but I was really disappointed! There were lines and scenes from the book that I thought would definitely be included in the movie...but they weren't, and I don't understand why. It's been driving me crazy! It makes me worried for the film adaptations of the other books. I truly hope that your research offers insight on why certain lines and scenes were altered and/or excluded from the movie.

Molly said...

Thank-you so much for sharing your wonderful insight! One of the things I'm looking most forward to when the DVD comes out is watching the deleted scenes!

Two of my favorite added lines to the movie are:
1. When Bella says, "Your mood swings are giving me whiplash"
2. Emmett's line regarding if she even liked Italian, "Her name is Bella"
Of course Charlies shot-gun scene is classic too.

I absolutely hated the spider monkey line...Edward wouldn't say that at all. He is more eloquent than that. I also didn't like the fact that Bella was in her undies during the kiss scene. Bella would have been SOOO embarrassed. The first time I saw the movie I was beyond disappointed; however when I saw it again I began to pick out the things that they did do well and realized that while things had to be changed for the movie, they did catch all the essentials. I do believe the blood-typing scene should have been included and it would have been nice if there was enough time to include the small things that develop Bella and Edward's relationship and make them who they are!

katie said...

I saw the movie before I ever read the books. Now since then I have read all the books like 4 times each! BUT.....it was ultimately the movie that made me even ever want to pick up the book.

The acting is what I like to call "craptastic". and this is not a mean or bad thing! I just think they could have made it a little more flowing.....

I HATE that they NEVER once even said "I love you". They only kissed twice! come on! They said I love you and kissed like a zillion times!

I thought Robert Pattinson was brilliant as Edward. Kristen Stewart was the perfect look for Bella. But they made her seem kind of "dumb" she did a lot of twitching and stuttering.

I liked the movie a lot. I am for sure not having the highest of hopes for New Moon..but come on have them say "I love you"!

keith said...

I want to start off by thanking you for sharing your thoughts on this topic and sharing your experience. Its an incredibly interesting topic and I enjoy hearing your insight.

I'm studying film in school, and while my focus is on visual effects, I have taken some production courses and know what its like to put together a film. I think most people don't realize how difficult it is to translate a book to a movie. Its not just a matter of taking scenes from a book and finding people to act them out. Film is a different medium and has a different feel. Even if you took the time factor away, translating the book to film verbatim(every scene, every line) wouldn't have the same effect because its a different experience.

That being said, overall I liked the film. While there were some scenes that could have been handled better(the meadow), I felt the film as a whole stayed true to the book. My favorite additions involved Bella's classmates. They couldn't show every scene from the book with Mike, Jessica, etc, but they really made the most of their time on screen, adding a lot of humor to the movie. In particular I enjoyed their portrayal of the Mike, Eric, Tyler competition for Bella's attention and I thought the swim team conversation from Bella's first day was hysterical.

Anonymous said...

The one line that bothers me the very most is in the baseball scene when Alice tells them it's time to start the game in the book she says it then lightning strikes in the movie the lightning comes and then Alice tells them. I think that's just dumb! Alice is psychic! After the lightning strikes everyone knows, by telling them before hand Alice is basically showing off. And in the movie it's like well duh! The other thing is that Bella seams to stutter a lot! But I agree with GenevieveCullen. the scene when Charlie snaps his gun and makes a halo around his head is my favorite, I see my husband doing that to or daughter's boyfriends in 16 years.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of the books and liked the movie. The parts that i did not like were:

1. Some of the editing was poor. For example, in the scene in the tree Edward is blushing/red, probably because it is cold, but clearly not possible for a vampire.
2. In a close-up of Edward in biology class you can clearly see the outline of his contacts.
3. I think they missed an opportunity to show the subtle but intense touching in the book. In the meadow scene in the book Stephenie is able to make your heart stutter just by describing him touching her face. That was lost in the movie.
4. In these scene where she tells him she knows he is a vampire they go from scowling at each other to declaring their love too fast. I also think the line about being scared but only of losing him sounds ridiculous and should not have made it into the movie.
5. They should have said I love you.
6. They should have developed Alice's relationship with Bella better. It is so important in New Moon and it will be interesting to see how they are able to make it seem real without it being shown in Twilight.

bonnie said...

First off - congrats on coming back to the US soon and everything going on! All very exciting.

I think people are too harsh on the film in general. My judgment of a good film adaptation is always how well it captures the TONE of the book.

Regardless of all the details... I believe this film did that and I very much enjoyed it. In some ways, I would have loved to see more of the character aspects that I loved, but I think that Catherine Hardwicke captured the teen intensity of the books - the angst, awkward moments AND the desire and rush.

I'm a bit troubled about the future of the franchise, since the new director is the person (in my opinion) who produced one of the WORST adaptations I've ever seen - The Golden Compass.

Thanks for the post, I always enjoy reading about your studies and work.

Anonymous said...

I always have a question... why can't make the movie 2 hours and a half... since they have already shot that lot... Every movie of harry potter has 2 hours and a half... is it because the theater will charge the company more or something...? or they want to put those extra scenes in DVD to appeal more fans to buy it...?

TINapay said...

Thanks for this post Maggie!

I'm glad you mentioned that bit about the square root of pi as that was one of the parts I loved in the movie version. It was sort of a nerd bait, and the fact that Bella got it--which surprised even Edward--supported the premise that she was in the advanced placement class in Phoenix.

I also loved the part where Edward said, "That one's not looking... oh wait, he just did." Or something like that, when they came to school together and he had his arm around Bella.

Anonymous said...

There were some parts in the movie which I don't like:
1) We didn't get to see how Edward's and Bella's relationship develops. It's like they were suddenly together and they don't even look like they're in love.
2) The fact that the other Cullens have so little lines and Bella's relationship with Alice did'nt seem to develop.
3) The fact that Edward wore sunglasses were also a trunoff.
4) They did'nt show the history of Carlisle and Alice which shows how they came to be.
5) The fact that Edward seems to lose his control after the baseball scene when he was trying to put on Bella's seatbelt. (He's a vampire, he's suppose to be fast and precise/efficient).
6) They are moving like humans too much. It doesn't show that vampires don't need to move so much like humans.
7) The "spidermonkey" line seems weird.
8) Edward is supposed to be fairer than Bella.
9) Edward doesn't look like he's carved out of stone. You can see his body hair everywhere.
10) The meadow scene was not good enough.

Phoenixliv said...

I really liked a lot of the movie but so many perfect lines were cut that it barely resembles the same story. The characters never say, "I love you" - not once! My biggest gripe, however, is the field trip. It was not in the book and had Edward completely out of character "Why don't you watch where you're going?"
I really wish Rob and Kristen had put more of the wry, sarcastic humor into their performances. I always was amused by the banter between Edward and Bella in the book and the movie is so flat and serious. OK rant over.