Twilight, Advent

Bella, Edward and the family are living the happy ever after. The world continues to turn and their worlds continue to turn around one another. Life after life seems rosy. Until one day Santa comes knocking. Only, he doesn’t, because Renesmee isn’t wholly human and Santa doesn’t know if he should come down the chimney to bring his Christmas gifts to a not-wholly human child.

Charlie has bought a tree and presents for his granddaughter. Alice has prepared a shimmering party. Jacob has built a wooden sleigh, and the pack are ready to assume their wolf selves and give Resenemee the ride of her life. Everything is set to be the Christmas of a lifetime… until Alice looks into the future and sees Santa hovering on his own sleigh (reindeer rather than wolf driven) above Charlie’s house, his Santa-sense unsure whether to drop down the chimney to or turn tail and speed back to the North Pole in fear of his life, knowledge of the vampires lodged firmly in his sack.

What begins as a lighthearted comedy (can Santa fit down the chimney!) becomes altogether darker (does Santa want to fit down the chimney?), soon delving into the philosophical realms of what constitutes ‘the soul’. Santa is sensitively portrayed by Marlon Brando (tastefully redigitised in an almost – note, almost – seamless blend of old footage and CGI).

As an exploration of the human soul, the film is unique. We witness Edward, Charlie, Bella and Resenmee herself (prodigy that she is) wrestling with concepts such as conscience, sentience, and tinsel (we have Alice to thank for the latter). Throw into the mix the return of the Volturi led by Aro, intent on sucking all that is good from the world, and the failure of the Quileuet pack to ‘wolf-up’ due to the diminished threat of the local vampires, and you get a heady mix of thought provoking seasonal soul-searching and out-and-out mayhem.

If more were needed, as ever we have the delight which is the dance of Bella and Edward and their all-consuming passion. Hats off to Edward for sporting the Santa beard and descending blemish free down Charlie’s chimney. He knows, Bella knows, we know… it’s not enough, he’s not the real Santa Claus. Does he have a soul? Does Bella? Do the rest of the family? More importantly, does Resenemee? Only Santa can answer their questions.

Visually, the film is as spectacular as its predecessors. The long tracking and overhead shots are beautiful – helped, of course, by the breathtaking beauty of the landscape, brought to life so tenderly by the cinematography and the muted score. (Sometimes, one wonders, does the scene require actors, so characterful are the snowbound hills and valleys of Forks, Washington.) We had George Bailey agonising over his existence in It’s a Wonderful Life. Now we have Bella and Edward, similarly laid bare. Is it a wonderful life / death / after life?

I had my reservations about the voiceover from Herzog but, much like Santa, reserved my judgement. All in all it’s hard to resist the richness – of emotion, landscape, and sheer daring – of Twilight, Advent. If you like vampires, wolves, Santa, and normal Charlie, then this is one for you.

Do they have the power to believe? Do you have the power to believe? Does Santa have the power to believe?

By Simon Dale

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