‘Breaking Dawn – Part 1’ is undoubtedly the teen targeted phenomenon of the holiday season, but as anyone familiar with the series knows, the first half of Stephenie Meyer’s final book focuses on some rather mature themes that may not be appropriate for younger teens — and certainly not tweens. How hypocritical, you must be thinking, considering the first three installments feature a heavy dose of supernatural violence, suicidal thoughts and relationship drama. But in ‘Breaking Dawn,’ Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) teen marriage leads to an unplanned, dangerous pregnancy, and one of the most horrific birth scenes ever put on film — way too intense for most pre-teens to understand or see. Here are five issues to consider closely before you decide to take your under-15 kid to the movie. (Spoilers ahead)
1. Sex: While the first three movies in the supernatural romance saga depict adolescent lust — and restraint — in Bella and Edward’s steamy-but-sexless relationship, ‘Breaking Dawn’ opens with the couple’s wedding, which of course leads to the much-anticipated wedding night. On the plus side, the love scenes are tastefully shot, but the honeymoon sequence is extensive, and like all honeymoons, sex (of the bed-breaking variety) is constantly on the characters’ minds. Bella is visibly bruised the morning after their first time, and later she all but begs Edward to have sex again.
2. Teen pregnancy: If the teen marriage doesn’t concern you, the teen pregnancy might. Bella is only 18 when she and Edward (who’s technically in his 100s) marry, and she immediately gets pregnant on their honeymoon. Since they don’t think pregnancy is even possible, the newlyweds don’t use birth control, and when Bella realizes she’s expecting, Edward decides “the thing” needs to come out, but Bella has other ideas about the growing human-vampire hybrid.
3. Abortion debate: The bulk of the movie is one long pro-life debate. Sure, Bella says it’s her body, her choice (terms usually used in the pro-choice movement), but her decision is pro-life to the extreme, because the baby can and will kill her. On the one hand, Bella is willing to protect her and Edward’s unborn baby, even if it means giving up her life; on the other, poor Edward (and Jacob and everyone else except for Rosalie) wants the emaciated, dying Bella to terminate her pregnancy and save herself. Ultimately both mother and child survive, but there’s so much “fetus” vs “baby,” life begins at conception talk that it’s bound to confuse some younger viewers.
4. Parental abandonment: One of the saddest subplots in the movie is that Bella has to lie to her father time and time again after she gets married. She claims it’s for his own good, so he won’t worry, but all the deception does is upset and alienate him. In the book, Bella is willing to forego a relationship with her parents in order to marry Edward and transform into a vampire. It’s not that overt in the movie, but she does lie and tell him not to attempt to see her. It’s certainly a confusing message for tweens and young teens — that it’s OK to abandon your family for the man you love.
5. Bloody birth scene: Have you seen ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ or ‘The Fly’ remake? The birth scene in ‘Breaking Dawn’ makes those look tame by comparison. In director Bill Condon’s defense, he was just being faithful to his source material, but really, the birth is bloody disgusting. Without Carlisle Cullen to deliver the baby, Edward has to result to extreme, vampiric methods to perform an emergency C-section … with his teeth. There’s so much blood it drives one of the other vampires into a bloodlust frenzy, and a nearly dead Bella is shown covered in blood, bites and bruises for a very long time. It’s enough to make the faint of heart queasy.
From weddings to werewolves, Moviefone has the complete collection of images from the upcoming romance saga.
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