"It felt like the right approach was to impose a limitation where you only see what Bella could see," Condon said from Los Angeles. "We tried to make the movie as immersive as possible. When it's not from Jacob's point of view, you're inside Bella's head. So since we built the whole movie that way, by the time you get to the birth, it's OK that you're on the slab with her. Bella has just gotten a shot of morphine, and she's giving birth to this baby, and it's all craziness around her. We're seeing what she's seeing and her reaction to it."
The first three "Twilight" films were rated PG-13, and the franchise was not going to veer into R-rated territory and risk alienating its tween and teen fans, not to mention their parents, who have embraced the series in part for its chaste, good-girl messages.
Of course, the characters and story evolve sharply in "Breaking Dawn," creating new challenges for its three young stars, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Bella and Edward get married, go on a honeymoon and soon discover that Bella is pregnant. Edward is immediately concerned for her health. "We're going to get that thing out before it can hurt any part of you," he says.
In the "Twilight" movie world, the blood-spurting birth scene happens, just not graphically.
"The way we shot it allows you to be like, 'Oh God!' said Condon. "You see the beginning of something and then it goes off-screen and you hear it. Then you come back and see the result of it, but you don't see every gruesome detail. Hopefully you'll have the same intense experience without having to be too explicit about it."
Pattinson, who has become world famous for playing the brooding vampire Edward Cullen, said he was "astonished" when he first read the birth scene in the script. "I knew it was kind of crazy, the story, but I couldn't really believe that it was actually written down and we were going to do it," he told reporters at a recent press conference in Los Angeles. "There's definitely a kind of R-rated or NC-17-rated version of a few scenes in this movie. But it was just incredible to do that, because of the violence and stuff in it."
Bringing new ideas while staying true to franchise
Condon had plenty of fresh ideas to shake up the game but still had to play by the franchise's rules. "That's the challenge," he said. "You do want to put your mark on it and tell it the way you see it. But at the same time there is a template, a story you have to stay true to. The tricky thing is capturing the essence of something that happened in the book without actually doing it as literally as it was done in the book."
One switch involves Irina, a member of the Alaska-based Denali coven. In the second half of the book, Irina, who had refused to come to Bella and Edward's wedding, misinterprets something about Renesmee and sets off a key plot point involving the Volturi, the coven that governs the vampire world. "If you did it like the book, she would not be in this movie at all," said Condon. "Instead, we bring her to the wedding so that her grudge happens in real time, in the present, and is more effective."
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