Friday, November 28, 2008
Not Very Good, but Who Cares?
I guess someone was bound to post on this movie here eventually. I haven't had the pleasure of seeing it yet, but that's part of why I'm writing this now. Everyone I've talked to about Twilight and many comments I've read have all had the same thing to say: the movie wasn't that great, but people liked it anyway. And not just teenage people. I've heard strong positives from elderly women and middle-aged men as well.
What an interesting phenomenon for a movie - especially one with strong Mormon ties! A lot of people have argued that poor production values have been a major downfall of LDS cinema. While Twilight may not fall under narrower definitions of that term, it certainly has a place in the history of the movement, and it may be a significant one. Regardless of how well the film or its characters or the book it's based on represent Mormonism, its doctrines, or its adherents, this is a film about a debut book by an obscure Mormon author who, in a startlingly short time, was transformed into a popular sensation. This film defies the idea that a person needs the most expensive, the most experienced, and the best of everything to reach a whole herd of people - to make it in spectacular fashion. This seems to me to be a very Christian idea - the weak and simple, as it were. Almost all I hear about this movie is 'the special effects were lousy, the acting wasn't great, and there were a host of other flaws, but I loved it.' So here's the question: why? What makes this film's flaws so ultimately forgivable?
And here's another: if Twilight can have such influence without superior acting, technical excellence, or a huge budget, how much do these things matter? How does this change our perspective on where the LDS film movement should go? Do we all want the kind of exposure that Stephenie Meyer has gotten? It's interesting that, as far as I know, the majority of the attention generated by the movie is turning to her - the author of the books. Some of it is bound to fall on the Church and other Mormon artists.
So what do you need to make an influential movie? A story with a good soul? A flock of teenage hyper-fans? Or do you just need vampires?