My personal favorite film out of the five in The Twilight Saga has to be Eclipse. While it’s the penultimate book in the series and the third in the five films, it is arguably the novel that expands the lore of the universe not only in terms of Bella and Edward’s love story, but also the people around them. Aside from the fact that one of the spin-offs, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, is basically an alternative point-of-view of the battle in Eclipse, we also get to see the lore behind two of the Cullen members.
In short, Eclipse is my favorite because the story delves deeper into the universe while providing more scenes that don’t involve the Cullens standing still inside their home. Here’s a recap and review of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which premiered in cinemas in 2010.
A Storm Brewing
An unnamed man (later identified as student Riley Biers) walks out in the rain in Seattle when he is stalked by a vampire later revealed to be Victoria. We later learn that after she heard about Laurent’s death, she decides to create an army of newborns who are initially stronger than older vampires because of their human blood still inside their bodies. Well-aware of Alice and Edward’s special powers, she decides to hide in the shadows and manipulate the newborn army through Riley, whom she seduces into submission.
While it’s not mentioned canon in the books, in the spin-off The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, we learn that the army of newborn vampires are led to believe that sunlight can kill vampires and that the Cullens actively want to kill them, which is why they’re trained to defend themselves.
We then see Bella and Edward in their meadow discussing their relationship. Bella already hates that she is older than him by one year and can physically age while Edward remains frozen at 17 (even though, technically, he’s over a hundred years old), but she doesn’t like the idea of marrying at an early age – something she’ll have to do if she wants to stop the age gap from growing if she wants Edward to turn her into a vampire ASAP.
Meanwhile, the effects of Victoria’s growing army is starting to catch the humans’ attention as Bella’s father Charlie is involved in investigating the large number of disappearances and murders, including the disappearance of Riley Biers. However, back at home, he gives Bella an ultimatum: she can stop being grounded (after her sudden disappearances thanks to the events of Twilight and New Moon) if she spends more time with her friends that aren’t the Cullens. However, any of her attempts to reach out to Jacob are ignored.
Edwards begins to suspect that the growing number of newborns in nearby Seattle are because of Victoria. Their suspicions are confirmed when Alice sees Riley entering Bella’s room to steal a blouse and train newborns to spot her scent. When Alice has a vision of Victoria returning, Edward takes Bella to her mother’s home in Florida while the Cullens and the wolves chase her. However, Victoria manages to escape when Emmett, chasing Victoria, almost crosses into Quileute territory and is stopped.
Reuniting with Jacob
When Bella and Edward return to school, Jacob confronts him about Emmett nearly crossing the territory boundaries and Bella realizes why Edward wanted her out of Forks. Furious that he did not tell her, she leaves with Jacob to learn more. She later convinces the Cullens and the Quileutes to team up to protect Forks from the newborns.
Now able to speak to each other again, Jacob confesses his love for Bella and forcibly kisses her. This upsets Bella, who breaks her hand trying to punch him. This upsets Edward when they arrive home, but Charlie’s presence stops them from fighting.
Bella goes to the Cullen home so that Carlisle can treat her hand. Emmett and Bella joke about how Bella will no longer get hurt when she becomes a vampire, which infuriates Rosalie. There, she has a meaningful conversation with Rosalie. Until that point, Rosalie has been the quietest Cullen in the coven. While she does tolerate Bella’s presence, it’s clear she does not like her the way Alice or her “siblings” do. So, finally getting some explanation on her background helps the audience understand that each of these vampires are more complex than Bella may have originally thought without having to make an unnecessary spin-off to explain where they’re all coming from.
Rosalie hates how Bella is easily giving up her humanity to become a vampire when Rosalie would give up everything just for the chance to experience being human again. Unlike Bella, Rosalie didn’t have a choice. While Rosalie’s account in the film glosses over a lot of key points in her life, here’s a more in-depth story of Rosalie’s life according to the Twilight Lexicon, the novel, and other canon sources.
Rosalie was born beautiful and raised in a middle-class family of social climbers during the Great Depression. Her parents wanted her to marry into wealth and use her beauty to attract a good match. Her looks eventually led to her meeting and becoming engaged to Royce King II, the son of the wealthiest family in their area.
She never envied anyone until she saw her friend Vera have a loving marriage and a child of her own despite not marrying into wealth like Rosalie was about to. This led Rosalie to question her own engagement and whether or not she really loved Royce. While walking home, she ran into a drunk Royce and his equally drunk friends who proceeded to rape and beat her before leaving her for dead. Carlisle found her and, seeing her youth and beauty, thought it would be a shame for her to die when she could be the mate of Edward and decided to turn her into a vampire.
Upon turning, it was clear she and Edward could only see each other as brother and sister and had no romantic feelings for each other. Later, she sought revenge against the men who assaulted her, though she made sure not to spill or drink their blood because she didn’t want any of them inside her. She saved Royce for last, adding some dramatics by wearing her wedding dress as she tortured and killed him.
She warns Bella that, by becoming a vampire, the only thing she would learn to want is to want blood.
Enter the Volturi
In Seattle, Riley warns the newborns against attacking too many people and tells them to control their urges to avoid drawing too much attention. Nearby, we see four Volturi guard members – Jane, Alec, Felix, and Demetri – watching them. Jane poses whether or not they should kill the newborns or let the army serve their purpose before meddling.
Based on The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, prior to the battle between the newborns and the Cullens, the Volturi confront Victoria and the Volturi because their growing numbers pose a threat to them and their secrecy. However, they give Victoria five days to destroy the Cullens and watch from the sidelines.
Bella, Jasper, Edward, and Alice graduate high school and invite seniors to their home for a house party. Jacob and friends Embry and Quill crash the party and discuss the incoming newborns with the Cullens and they agree to join the fight. Bella also realizes that the newborns are being controlled by Victoria, who is using Riley to hide from Alice.
That night, Bella tries to get Edward to have sex with her, but Edward tells her he wants to wait for the right time. Bella realizes how much she loves Edward and is willing to get married even at a young age just to be with him, and he proposes with his biological mother’s ring.
Battle of the Newborns
While the Cullens and the wolves prepare to meet the newborns in battle, Edward, Bella, and Jacob camp out in the mountains to wait out the fight and hide Bella’s scent from the incoming horde. During the night, they are caught in a blizzard which causes Bella to nearly suffer hypothermia. Edward can’t do anything to help, so he is forced to watch Jacob cuddle her body to give her warmth.
The next morning, Jacob overhears Bella and Edward talking about their engagement, which makes him upset. He threatens to join the fight which could get himself killed, and Bella kisses him in an attempt to make him stay. He still leaves to join the fight, but promises to be back. She tells Edward about the kiss, but tells him that she realizes that while she loves Jacob, their relationship pales in comparison to her love for Edward.
Meanwhile, the Cullens and the wolves successfully fight off the newborn army, but Jacob is injured in the battle. Victoria and Riley find Bella’s hiding spot and nearly kill Edward, but Bella distracts them with her blood. With the help of the young Quileute Seth, Edward manages to kill Riley (which Victoria easily ignores) and later on killing Victoria herself.
Upon returning to the clearing, they find the Volturi killing every newborn still alive. The Cullens try to protect the only newborn that surrendered, Bree Tanner, but Jane tortures her before Felix kills her despite the Cullens asking that they spare her and allow her to join the Cullens. In The Short Life of Bree Tanner, Bree deduces that Edward has the power to read minds and tells him that the Volturi knew of the newborn army and hoped it would destroy the Cullens before they killed it themselves. The Volturi note that Bella hasn’t been transformed yet, but the Cullens assure them that the date is set.
The Cullens and the wolves return to Jacob’s home where Carlisle is treating Jacob for his wounds. It’s clear that the relationship between the wolves and vampires has improved. Bella enters to tell Jacob that she’s chosen Edward over him even though she still loves him. Jacob finally accepts this.
In the meadow, Edward and Bella discuss their wedding. They plan to tell Charlie, though Bella jokingly admits that she’s relieved that Edward is bulletproof, knowing her father’s reaction.
If Eclipse were released today, it wouldn’t have as much flak as, say Twilight’s portrayal of Bella as a damsel in distress or New Moon’s handle on mental health. It would, however, be problematic in a way that Bella is constantly in a state of wondering whether or not she’s #TeamEdward or #TeamJacob. Now that women empowerment has grown over the last nine years, it’s strange that no one ever thought about considering #TeamBella – the possibility that Bella can stand on her own two feet without a man to define who she is. And the fact that Bella is constantly wondering if she should be with Edward or Jacob (not once considering if she’s better off alone so she can actually have time to think her decision through) wouldn’t sit well with modern audiences who believe a woman isn’t defined by the man she chooses.
However, one thing that could get audiences is the issue of Bree Tanner, the newborn vampire. In her spin-off, Bree is just 15 or 16 years old and forced into a life she never asked for. With the issue of child immigrants being separated from their parents in the United States and children in war-torn places in the Middle East forced to grown up fast, we get a unique commentary of children being forced into wars they never asked for. And like children in real life, they are forced into their situation before being punished for something they never agreed to do in the first place.
Out of all five films, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse has to be my favorite because it is packed with key events in the story. There is hardly a boring point in the film, but it’s the right balance of humor, drama, action, and suspense that, years later, still ring truths and holds water as both a love story and a drama between warring factions learning to put aside their differences for the greater good.