A - Z insider's guide to Twilight
All you need to know about the franchise ahead of 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One'
It’s November, which means the new and fourth ‘Twilight’ film ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One’ (released worldwide on Nov 18, 2011) is almost here. But what if you don’t know your Denalis from your Cullens? Or your ‘Volturi’ from your ‘newborns’? We enlisted a crack team of Twi-hards and the Twi-curious to guide us through the world revealed in Stephenie Meyer’s books and the phenomenally successful film series.
Choose a letter to begin or scroll through the entire A-Z.
By Caitlin Arthur, Elizabeth Darke, Julia Fernandez, Gina Hindler, Tom Huddleston, Shalinee Singh and Anna Smith
A is for Abs
As soon as Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) whipped off his shirt for the second ‘Twilight’ film, ‘New Moon’, all of the franchise’s female (and some of its male) fanbase shared a sharp intake of breath at the sight of his abs. Never ones to miss an opportunity, the filmmakers later used an estimate of 923 shirtless shots (yes, someone counted) in the third ‘Twilight’ film, ‘Eclipse’, demanding that all members of the wolfpack should be similarly stacked. The result? Raging hormones, ‘Team Jacob’ t-shirts and ‘Abduction’, the 2011 film that tried to turn Taylor Lautner into an action hero. Thanks a bunch guys.
B is for Bella
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is as pale and uninteresting as the grey suburbia she inhabits. But who cares about looks when you have delicious teenage blood to catch swoonsome vampires with? Edward is powerless to resist, except she’s also caught the eye of that nice Jacob boy – but is he a vampire or a shape-shifter (werewolf to you and me)? It’s a regular teen dilemma. Bella’s special skill is shielding her mind from the mental trickery of vampires. Stewart has turned the same trick, finally confirming to a GQ journalist only in October 2011 what the public have suspected for a vampire’s lifetime: she and Robert Pattinson are in a real-life relationship.
C is for Catherine Hardwicke
‘Lords of Dogtown’ and ‘Thirteen’ director Catherine Hardwicke landed directing duties on the first ‘Twilight’ film, becoming the most commercially successful female director in Hollywood. But she famously walked away from subsequent sequels. ‘Catherine and Summit have agreed to part ways on the sequel because our visions are different,’ said Summit Entertainment, while Catherine claimed, ‘I do not regret it at all. The truth is I liked the first book the best.’ Hardwicke subsequently directed the so-so ‘Red Riding Hood’ and has plans to make a film starring Ellen Page as lesbian.
D is for Denali Coven
The Denali Coven is the only other vampire coven in the ‘Twilight’ series that is vegetarian after the Cullen family. The reader only meets them properly in ‘Breaking Dawn’ when they visit the city of Forks, Washington for Edward and Bella’s wedding. The coven’s members, Tanya, Irina and Kate were all sired by the same vampire, Sasha, while Carmen and Eleazar joined later, Eleazar having been a Volturi soldier until he met Carmen and became vegetarian. For some unknown reason, Sasha created an immortal child named Vasilii and, as this was banned by the Volturi, Sasha and the child were eliminated. Irina, Tanya and Kate were only spared because they had no knowledge of what Sasha had done. So there you have it.
E is for Edward
Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson in the ‘Twilight’ films, is just your average brooding teenager. Or so everyone thinks. Get a little closer to the mysterious yet pretty pubescent and you’ll discover that Edward is in fact a stone cold, bloodsucking vampire who is more than a hundred years old. Legend has it that in 1918, while dying of Spanish influenza at the age of 17, Edward was transformed into a vampire by Dr Carlisle Cullen who adopted him as his son. Raised in a family of ‘nice’ vampires, Edward and the Cullens refrain from hunting humans and survive instead on the blood of animals. With striking gold eyes and snow white skin, Edward is overwhelmingly beautiful and as a vampire he possesses many superhero-like powers: he can run faster than the speed of light, crush moving vehicles with one hand and read your thoughts from a mile’s distance. To put it simply (and forgetting the bloodsucking), he’s a total catch.
F is for Forks, Washington
Previously unremarkable, unless you happened to be a fishing enthusiast, the city of Forks in Washington state shot to fame thanks to playing home to Bella and co in the ‘Twilight’ series. It has become a popular tourist destination and tours are available for locations said to have inspired the books, even if the movies are not actually filmed in Forks. Tourism has increased by an estimated 600 per cent since Stephenie Meyer’s first ‘Twilight’ novel was published in 2005. You can see a slideshow of ‘Twilight’-themed attractions at www.forkswa.com/twilight
G is for Glitter
No, not Gary, but the equally glam-rock skin condition that affects Meyer’s vampire clans. Vampires traditionally have a tricky relationship with direct sunlight – it might make them explode, melt or crumble into dust, depending on who you believe. But never in the history of vamp-lore has it made them, well, twinkle. It’s this peculiar affectation that led Stephenie Meyer’s heroic Cullen family to seek refuge in the town of Forks, a place where it’s never, ever sunny. Makes perfect sense.
H is for Henry Cavill
Henry Cavill is an English actor who has appeared in films such as ‘Stardust’, ‘Immortals’ and ‘Red Riding Hood’. Stephenie Meyer stated before the filming of ‘Twilight’ that Cavill would be her first choice for Edward. However he was too old for the part as he was already 24 back then. She also considered him for the part of Carlisle Cullen, when she discovered that her preferred actor, Charlie Hunnam, was not interested in any scripts involving vampires. The part of Carlisle went to Peter Facinelli and Cavill has had nothing to do with the ‘Twilight’ series.
I is for Imprinting
Likened to gravity’s pull, this mating phenomenon is distinctive to shape-shifters. Once the imprinter imprints on an imprintee (try saying that after a few drinks) they are bound to them for life, even if that means waiting around for a decade or two for their sweetheart to come of age. The series’ love triangle was finally tied up in ‘Breaking Dawn’ with the birth of Renesmee Cullen, who as it turns out is Jacob’s reason for living, breathing and taking his top off at opportune moments (like when the camera’s rolling), enabling bitter foes Edward and Jake to strike up a bromance. Because it’s better to obsess over your buddy’s dhampir daughter than his wife. What’s a dhampir? It’s a bit like a vampire…but ask a fan for more details. See also 'A is for Abs'.
J is for Jacob Black
Native American Jacob (Taylor Lautner) starts the ‘Twilight’ series as the nice boy next door but turns into a wolf in the second book and film. It turns out he’s part of the Quileute tribe, whose men acquire this ability when they come of age. He is not, we repeat not, a werewolf, so don’t make that mistake in front of a ‘Twilight’ fan. Jacob was originally a small character but proved so popular that he was beefed up and given a bigger role in ‘New Moon’. He narrates several chapters of the book ‘Breaking Dawn’ and plays a key role in the finale.
K is for Kiss
The onscreen chemistry between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, combined with a considerable build-up, meant that their first ‘Twilight’ kiss won an MTV Movie award for Best Kiss. And the next year. And so on. This year, Pattinson livened up the ceremony, at which the onscreen couple were required to reprise their kiss in front of an excitable audience. Pattinson grabbed his award, bounced down from the stage and planted a smacker on his male co-star (and love rival in the movies) Taylor Lautner.
L is for Love Triangle
Calling to mind every rom-com and Bollywood film in history, the pretty girl, Bella, must choose between two worthy suitors, Edward and Jacob – but, oh, who shall it be? Bella loves Jacob, son of trusted family friend, but she doesn’t love him in, well, that way. And there’s something special about that pale-looking boy in her maths class. The only solution is for Edward and Jacob to compete for the fair maiden’s heart. After some intense stand-offs and a fair amount of heartbreaking, Bella makes her choice. Not that her decision stopped the slew of ‘Team Jacob’ and ‘Team Edward’ merchandise that’s available. You, too, could own a Team Edward badge, bangle, T-shirt, pillow or babygrow.
M is for Midnight Sun
After the release of the third ‘Twilight’ story, ‘Eclipse’, in 2007, Stephenie Meyer embarked on an unusual project: retelling the events from the first novel from a different character’s perspective. ‘Midnight Sun’ would have been a complete novel told entirely from the point of view of vampire Edward Cullen – an intriguing, unprecedented idea. Meyer claims to have abandoned the book in spring 2008 because the first 12 chapters were leaked on the internet, infuriating the author. But might she also have walked away because this was simply too bizarre a project even for the superfans?
N is for Newborns
Watch vintage episodes of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and you could be fooled into thinking that newly risen vampires are weak, stupid and, more often than not, former classmates. In ‘Twilight’, Stephenie Meyer turns this theology on its head (sorry Joss Whedon), as her Newborns are bloodthirsty, stronger than their elders and crazily out of control. Although the majority of the Cullen family demonstrates enormous willpower resisting the allure of feeding on humans, Jasper finds this pseudo 'vegetarianism' at odds with his natural instincts. In his early undead life he fought and trained Newborn vampire armies, enabling him to provide his coven with insight when an enemy vampire, Victoria, pits a militia of homicidal Newborns against them.
O is for OME (Oh My Edward)
‘Oh My Edward’ is a phrase which has been coined by diehard Twilight fans, or, as they are affectionately (and not so affectionately) known, Twi-hards. It is a variation on ‘oh my God’ or ‘oh my gosh’, and it is often abbreviated to OME. Other variations include OMC, which stands for ‘Oh my Cullen’. These type of abbreviations seem to be very popular among aficionados, with other popular ones including OCD (Obsessive Cullen Disorder) and OTD (Obsessive Twilight Disorder). Other phrases in the Twilight vernacular include Twi-guys (men who like ‘Twilight’) and ‘Twilightened’ (someone who has just discovered the wonder of the ‘Twilight’ saga).
P is for Passion
Passion is something vampire Edward Cullen has in spades, especially when it comes to Bella, whose very presence has a strange, overpowering effect on him. In fact, he’s got so much passion for Bella it might just kill her. The first couple of books/movies see them unable to consummate their love for fear of her life – but they finally seal the deal in ‘Breaking Dawn’ on their honeymoon, just like they did in the olden days. Judging by the trailer, this is one passionate evening: watch those pillow feathers fly.
Q is for Quileute
For a saga based solely on mythical tribes – vampires, werewolves, good-looking pale people – it may be a shock to hear that the Quileute do actually exist. They’re a Native American tribe in western Washington, USA. In the ‘Twilight’ realm, the Quileute clan consists of Jacob Black, his dad and some seriously buff tribesmen. The Quileute folklore explored in the first film established that vampires are the tribe’s biggest enemies. As sheer luck would have it, certain members of the Quileute, including resident tween heartthrob Jacob, are descendants of lupine ‘shape-shifters’ who can rip through the marble-like skin of any vampire. In non-Twi-hard terms, this means that the Quileute can kick some serious vampire ass.
R is for Renesmee
Devoid of all imagination, Bella names her half-human/half-vampire daughter after both her parents (Renée and Charlie) and Edward’s parents (Esme and Carlisle), mashing them together to make Renesmee Carlie Cullen. ‘Breaking Dawn’ is the most gruesome instalment of the series, as a human Bella necks packets of blood to stop her feisty baby from chomping on her insides. After Renesmee is born, Jacob soon imprints on her, nicknaming her Nessie. The Denali coven catch sight of Renesmee and, thinking she’s a forbidden immortal child, dob the Cullens in to the Volturi. We hope you got all that.
S is for Spoof
‘Twilight’ was crying out for a spoof but it’s a shame it was left to Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, kings of lowbrow pisstakes such as ‘Date Movie’, ‘Epic Movie’ and ‘Meet the Spartans’. The 2010 film ‘Vampires Suck’ threw all the obvious observations about the series – pale vampires, homoerotic wolfmen, repressed passions and so on – and hammered them home as if driving a stake through a vampire’s heart. Hard. The one thing it did right was to cast Jenn Proske, who did a mean Kristen Stewart impression. Hard to believe it was her first film, and what seems like Friedberg and Seltzer’s five hundredth.
T is for Twisters
Where there are tweens, there’s pocket money, and manufacturers were quick to pick up on the trends in ‘Twilight’. Hair twisters are basically pieces of elastic that kids wrap around their locks to create ponytails and a variety of styles that may or may not be sported by vampire ladies. Girls can now accessorise them with ‘Twilight' inspired details. The ‘Cullen Crest’ hair twister features a brooch-like crest attached to a ponytail that is apparently so sophisticated it requires a video tutorial to apply. You can attach a ‘Team Jacob’ or ‘Team Edward’ charm to your hair twister to pledge allegiance.
U is for Underwear
Aside from Jacob Black, the ‘Twilight’ kids are relatively shy about getting their kit off but real-life fans can now strip off to reveal their loyalties on their underwear thanks to websites such as www.whycantwealljustgetathong.com. Slogans range from the mild ‘I heart Twilight’ to the multi-referential ‘I never got my letter to Hogwarts… So I’m moving to Forks to live with the Cullens’ to the positively sado-masochistic ‘Edward can bust my headboard, bite my pillows and bruise my body anyday!’ Cue interesting conversation when mum does the laundry round.
V is for Volturi
Vampire cops! Well, sort of. In Stephenie Meyer’s novels, the Volturi are an ancient clan of powerful vampires who live in Tuscany – an unusual choice given their conflicted relationship with the sun (see G for Glitter) and the fact that, in classic Hollywood tradition, most of them seem to be British. This sullen bunch of self-serving supernatural oddballs are the closest thing the vamps have to a government, and their word is law. Head of the Volturi is lugubrious mindreader Aro, played in the movies by notable thesp Michael Sheen as a sort of sinister, Elizabethan hipster version of Tim Curry in ‘Rocky Horror’ – which still doesn’t seem to stop legions of female Twihards from fancying him.
W is for Wuthering Heights
A passing reference to Emily Brontë’s windswept Yorkshire romance midway through Stephenie Meyer’s third ‘Twilight’ novel, ‘Eclipse’, sent sales of the romantic masterpiece soaring worldwide, particularly in France, where purchases shot up by half. Publisher Harper Collins was even driven to reissue the book with a new cover which looks suspiciously similar to the ‘Twilight’ artwork. The parallels between the two works are obvious – love triangles, remote locations, moody heroes – though some may find it hard to imagine Meyer’s series having the same long-term impact as Brontë’s novel. That didn’t prevent legions of Twi-hards from comparing the two books in online forums, but while many readers inevitably found ‘Wuthering Heights’ ‘depressing’ in comparison, at least one reader was ready to punch back, declaring, ‘“Twilight” is an watered down, emo idea of what Heathcliff and Cathy were.’
X is for Xavier Samuel
As if there wasn’t enough male eye candy in the ‘Twilight’ films already, the third film, ‘Eclipse’ saw the entry into the series of actor Xavier Samuel. The twentysomething Aussie hunk arrives in Forks as smoldering red-eyed and blonde haired vampire Riley Biers. Riley, alongside fellow bloodsucker Victoria, grooms an army of feral, new-born vampires and leads them into war against the Cullen family. The battle results in a serious showdown of teen totty and Riley is eventually killed by Edward Cullen. Despite featuring in only one ‘Twilight’ film, Samuel had a big impact on fans – he and Robert Pattinson won an MTV Movie Award in 2011 for their fight scene in ‘Eclipse’. Samuel stalkers can now catch him in Roland Emmerich’s Shakespeare conspiracy film ‘Anonymous’.
Y is for Yearning
Stephenie Meyer knows a thing or two about tween-aged hormones – raging and yet reticent, thriving off both anticipation and a sense of old-fashioned romance. And so Bella and Edward are frequently separated: by geography, circumstance, misunderstanding, that annoying thing about him being a vampire…and so much yearning and longing ensues, causing Bella to become even more gaunt and hollow-eyed in the first few movies at least. Even when Bella and Edward’s love is finally consummated, poor Jacob’s still left yearning on the shelf. Although that doesn’t last forever (see R for Renesmee).
Z is for Zafrina
We first meet Zafrina in ‘Breaking Dawn’, when Alice and Jasper send her to Forks to aid the Cullens in the fight against the Volturi. Zafrina is a vampire, part of a South American Coven whose other members include Kachiri and Senna. Zafrina is a vampire with extra abilities. She can create illusions that completely fool the sight and hearing of her target. Bella evades her powers, but she is still a little scared of Zafrina’s uncivilised appearance and attitude, especially as Zafrina is not a vegetarian. She is described in the book as long limbed, dark haired and dressed in animal skins. This counts for a wild beauty in the vampire world.