Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bella becomes a hero.

I have decided to write a review for the SAGA.  Well, the newest movie in the SAGA, Breaking Dawn.  If you do not know what movie SAGA I am referring to, you must have spent the last week catching mountain goats in the Urals.  SAGA must be in all caps here because not since Leia found out Luke was her brother has there been such hormonal angst in a movie series.  I am a Tolkien girl myself, finding the bravery and sacrificial love of his stories to be much more satisfying to my soul than watching Bella sit in a chair for three months because Edward dumped her.  I know, Team Edward is about to chuck werewolf hairballs at me right now- Edward wasn't dumping her, he was trying to allow her to be safe and have a normal life...blah blah blah.  Whatever.  Her behavior was not healthy, no matter how much you try to play the "Bella lost her mythological soulmate boyfriend forever" card.  When Aragorn told Eowyn he couldn't love her in the way she sought, she rode off into battle and killed the one "whom no man can kill", the Lord of the Nazgul, Witch-King of Angmar, effectively winning the Battle of Minas Tirith.  Seriously, there are better fictional role models for our daughters. 

However, a good story is about character transformation.  Hint- a good life is all about that too.  Donald Miller said it well:

“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed. He's a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn't change, the story hasn't happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if story is just condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another. ” 

Bella changes in this final installment.  She learns what sacrificial love truly is.  She has always been sacrifical, since page one of Book one, willing to die for those she loves.  However, she has such low self-worth in the beginning of the series that one really gets the impression she is willing to sacrifice herself because she believes everyone else around her is more worthy of life than she is.   That's not exactly sacrificial love, it is more an unhealthy view of self. 

This is where the SPOILERS start- if you are unfamiliar with the storyline of the books and want to be surprised if you go see the film, please stop reading now.  If you have read the series, you know what is going to happen in the movie- the movie sticks very close to the book storyline.   There's the disclaimer- do not send me hate emails for the spoiling the movie for you.  Smile and wink.

In Part one of Breaking Dawn, Edward and Bella get married and finally consummate their relationship.  Kudos to Myers who has always insisted on keeping her main characters as virgins until marriage throughout the series.  Bella does try on several occasions to change that, but Edward does not relent.  Whatever your stance on sexually active teenagers, if you are a parent I am sure the thought of a NON-sexually active teenage son or daughter is a sigh of relief, yes?  So, Bella and Edward become one, and he doesn't actually kill her in the process...some bruises and a completely broken bed, but she's still alive. 

And becomes pregnant with their child.

Now do not even ask me how this is possible from a scientific standpoint, as half of this procreating pair is a mythical dead creature.  Myers just expects us to go with this storyline quietly.  She makes the rules in her vampire/werewolf universe and we are just along for the ride.  But Bella is pregnant and in Forks VampireLand, the gestation period is short- Bella is full term in about 3 months.

Edward freaks.  Well, everyone freaks.  They have no idea WHAT is inside of her. Edward wants Carlisle to perform an abortion because he feels whatever is inside of Bella is going to kill her. But Bella will have nothing of it.  She loves the child- she insists it is a child- from the instant she finds out she is pregnant.  And she loves the child fiercely. 

She endures great pain during her pregnancy- the baby is incredibly strong and sucks all the nutrients out of Bella's body.  She is literally starving to death, and by the time she gives birth she looks like a Concentration Camp survivor.  The fetus breaks her ribs as it grows inside of her.  But she doesn't just endure physical pain, she also must face the disapproval and anger of those who love her and feel she is making the absolutely wrong choice by allowing the child to live.  She doesn't waver from her decision even slightly.  The love she has for this unborn child becomes her entire life, and she is willing to die to bring the baby into the world.  Bella has finally found sacrificial love, not in an unhealthy or unworthy way, but in the framework  of being willing to die for another BECAUSE of love.

And she does die right after birth.

Of course, this is a vampire story and she doesn't stay dead.  But she is willing, isn't that the point?

Bella became a hero in my book this time around.  You could say she found the love every parent has for their child, but I would disagree.  Knowing from the beginning that giving birth to a child will most likely kill you is not a situation most of us will ever face.  I have known women who have faced that exact scenario and moved forward bravely, willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their child.  They are heroes to me also- even more so because they are real, not just stories in a book.

The Bible says, "Greater love has no man than this, that he will lay down his life for a friend."  Substitute "friend" for whomever you will- child, wife, husband, father...enemy.  Wow, we won't go there on that last one.  If you want further illumination on selflessly loving an enemy, in fiction form, go read Ted Dekker's The Bride Collector.  It is the best in fiction form on that topic I have found.

Bella finds herself during this installment of the series.  She becomes brave for a reason outside of herself and her own desires, and in my opinion, STORY has begun.  All the rest before this has just been backstory, the build-up to Bella's character transformation.  The transformation has come slowly, as it usually does with us in real life too.  The elements were all inside of her from the beginning- her loyalty, bravery in the face of dangerous circumstances, and willingness to sacrifice herself for another.  But those elements were small and twisted at the start, with conflicting and confused motives.  Again, just like us.  Then life happened, Bella chose to jump into it, and all the dormant things inside her came to life, growing strong as she became who she is meant to be.  It is her story now, she is no longer just a bystander in her own life.

What about you?  Has your story begun yet?  Are you an extra in your own life or are you an active participant, finding your strength and realizing what you are willing to sacrifice everything for?  Just a thought for you to ponder.

So, go see the movie or don't.  But in my humble opinion, this one actually has something good and redeeming about it.  Course, it is still a vampire and werewolf story, so stay away if such things don't interest you.  But please think about your own story.  And jump into it.

Peace dear readers. 

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