The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion


By Mark Cotta Vaz

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A companion to the film, illustrated with full color photos.


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Table of Contents

Copyright Page

I wanted the complete experience before I traded in my warm, breakable, pheromone-riddled body for something beautiful, strong… and unknown. I wanted a real honeymoon with Edward. And, despite the danger he feared this would put me in, he'd agreed to try.1

Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen and Kristen Stewart as Bella Cullen, on their honeymoon.



I peeked up at him one more time, and regretted it. He was glaring down at me again, his black eyes full of revulsion. As I flinched away from him, shrinking against my chair, the phrase if looks could kill suddenly ran through my mind.2

It was wonder at first sight. Isabella "Bella" Marie Swan, a shy girl freshly transplanted from arid Phoenix, was having lunch on her first day at Forks High School in rainy Washington state. She found herself entranced by five "inhumanly beautiful" students lounging at the farthest table in the cafeteria. They looked like airbrushed fashion-magazine cover models and appeared to be as sun-deprived as the Olympic rain-forest region itself, their strange pallor offset by eyes ringed with shadows, as if they were fatigued from sleepless nights. Bella was particularly drawn to "the beautiful boy" whose dark eyes suddenly met hers. They exchanged furtive glances until lunchtime ended and Bella had to get to Biology II class. Fate seated her next to the beautiful boy, but suddenly her glances met eyes of fury. She wondered what was wrong….

On that note of confusion, Bella's passionate love affair with Edward Cullen began in TWILIGHT, Stephenie Meyer's bestselling first novel, published by Little, Brown and Company in October 2005. Bella would learn that Edward had been alive since 1901 and would be forever seventeen, the age at which he was changed into a vampire by Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Carlisle's coven included his partner, Esme, and the others Bella had gawked at that first day at Forks High: Alice and Emmett Cullen, and Rosalie and Jasper Hale. They adhered to Carlisle's principled philosophy of coexistence with humans and "vegetarian" vampirism (when they hunted, it was only for the blood of wild animals). But Bella tested Edward's discipline—his hostile behavior was an anguished reaction to her intoxicating aroma, his instinctive lust for her blood. Edward struggled with the monster within, but Bella saw only his beautiful soul. Theirs would be the tension of two worlds aligning—he wanting her to preserve her mortality, she desiring to join him in eternal youth.

Readers knew the unlikely romance of Bella and Edward would one day have a reckoning. After TWILIGHT, two more novels followed. NEW MOON, published in September 2006, saw the sweethearts suffer a separation that drove Bella to despair and Edward to near-suicide. In ECLIPSE, published in September 2007, the vengeful vampire Victoria unleashed an army of bloodthirsty newborns to kill Bella. Bella survived to see Edward slide a ring on the fourth finger of her left hand.

Besides the long-awaited wedding, there was another big reason to anticipate the next installment—it was announced as the last. Would the marriage come off as planned, and would Edward keep his promise to "change" Bella? What of Bella's family and friends who knew nothing of this shadow world she had entered? What about Jacob Black, the Quileute tribe member who had inherited the ancient tribal power to "phase" into a wolf, and his unrequited love for Bella? And what of the Volturi, ancient rulers of the vampire world who had their own designs on Bella? How would it all end?

Edward helps Bella pack up her high school—and human—memories.

"BREAKING DAWN is a real departure from the first three books. It's a very adult story, a grown-up story. It's about leaving home and becoming a spouse and a parent—those are very adult issues. It becomes less about teen love and more about the complexities of a relationship in a marriage."


All was revealed when BREAKING DAWN went on sale at midnight on August 2, 2008. That November the first film adaptation was theatrically released. Although all four books were published before the Twilight movie was made, the gestation of the film franchise began even as Little, Brown Books for Young Readers' Senior Vice President and Publisher Megan Tingley was still poring over Meyer's initial manuscript and a book scout alerted film producer Greg Mooradian that TWILIGHT was a potential film property. Mooradian read the manuscript in its first stage and enjoyed "the story of forbidden love," with its echoes of Romeo and Juliet. "It struck me this was a great movie premise—it seemed the greatest idea nobody had ever done," he recalled.3

Eighteen months before it was published, Paramount's MTV Films optioned TWILIGHT. But the project slid into that Hollywood limbo known as "development hell," and Paramount did not renew its option. All that remained of that early flirtation was a screenplay in which shy, clumsy Bella had inexplicably morphed into a star athlete. "By the end of that script it was like Charlie's Angels with the FBI and jet skis," said Catherine Hardwicke, who directed a faithful adaptation for Summit Entertainment after the company secured TWILIGHT rights in 2006. "I said to Summit, 'You guys have to make it like the book.' So, we went back to Stephenie's book."4

At the time, Summit, a company specializing in the foreign distribution and cofinancing of productions, was making the risky move to full studio status. Picking up TWILIGHT rights proved to be one of the most rewarding decisions in Hollywood history—The Twilight Saga launched the fledgling studio, with the first three films ringing up a worldwide box office of nearly $2 billion.5

The Cullen house was built again on a soundstage in Louisiana.

To paraphrase the old joke, it was déjà vu all over again—just as each novel had been eagerly anticipated, fans anxiously awaited the next film adaptation. The movies managed the rare feat of translating the interior space of a novel, where everything plays out in the reader's imagination, to the visual medium and collective experience of a theatrical motion picture. In addition to assigning flesh-and-blood actors to the novel's dreamscape—a group led by Kristen Stewart as Bella, Robert Pattinson as Edward, and Taylor Lautner as Jacob—Summit "cast" directors appropriate to the themes of each book. Hardwicke brought a raw reality to the introductory tale of teen love and the secret world of vampires. Writer-director Chris Weitz, fresh from his fantasy spectacle The Golden Compass, was tapped to helm The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which highlighted the romantic tension of Jacob's desire for Bella and had story points that demanded bigger production values ranging from introducing the shape-shifting wolf pack to location filming in the medieval Tuscan town of Montepulciano, a stand-in for the secret Volturi headquarters in Volterra, Italy. David Slade, director of the psychological thriller Hard Candy and the vampire horror film 30 Days of Night, was perfectly suited to the dark chapter of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, with its ravenous newborn vampires and Victoria's mission of vengeance.

The question for the next movie remained: How would it all end?

Each adaptation had its challenges, but BREAKING DAWN was unique. At 754 pages, it was the longest book and featured a succession of epochal events: Bella and Edward's wedding and honeymoon, Bella's life-threatening pregnancy and its promise of a hybrid human/vampire offspring, the conflict between vampires and wolves, the grim judgment of the all-powerful Volturi, and more of Meyer's unique vampire mythology.

Something wicked this way comes—the Volturi. Christopher Heyerdahl as Marcus, Michael Sheen as Aro, and Jamie Campbell Bower as Caius.

With so much ground to cover, it was decided to split BREAKING DAWN into two movies, to be filmed simultaneously. Chosen to direct the dual production was Bill Condon, the director/screenwriter whose work includes Gods and Monsters, a 1998 drama about Frankenstein director James Whale (which won Condon an Academy Award® for Best Adapted Screenplay), and Dreamgirls, the Broadway musical he adapted to the big screen in 2006 as screenwriter and director. A dream team of skilled filmmakers was assembled, including department heads who had previously collaborated with Condon: production designer Richard Sherman, film editor Virginia Katz, and composer Carter Burwell. Other production principals were renowned for their work on epic, effects-laden fantasy films, including director of photography Guillermo Navarro, who shot Hellboy and its sequel, and Pan's Labyrinth (for which he won an Oscar®); costume designer Michael Wilkinson, who costumed the fighting Spartans and Persians of 300 and the superheroes of Watchmen; and veteran visual effects supervisor John Bruno, who had recently completed work on the epic Avatar.

Family and friends give the happy couple a big send-off.

"We wanted to go out with a bang," declared producer Wyck Godfrey, a veteran of all The Twilight Saga productions. "We wanted to step it up with the best artists we could get to bring closure to the franchise and the story of Bella, Edward, and Jacob. The first concern was finding a director we all believed in. We had chased Bill Condon before, and, lo and behold, this time he said yes. He had a clear vision for Bella's journey, and a deep understanding of the adult themes."

"As the franchise has developed, the spectacle quotient has escalated," observed Phil Tippett, whose Tippett Studio created the wolves throughout the series. "As the films draw to a close, there's a ramp-up in not only scale and spectacle but in subject matter—stuff gets pretty darn wild!"

Contrary to media speculation, splitting BREAKING DAWN into two movies was not a slam-dunk decision. Even producing one film was not an immediate green light. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, after scripting all the previous Twilight Saga films, had decided to move on, while Stephenie Meyer herself had creative trepidations about the final chapter.

Before a BREAKING DAWN film could proceed, any creative concerns had to be resolved. If it was going to be done, it had to be done right.

"I was a still photographer when I had my first experience on a film set. I saw the difficulty of making a moving picture—solving that equation really puzzled me. There are so many elements involved, it's a miracle to sort out that equation and get a good shot. On that first set I got my complete intoxication with moving pictures."


It had been an intense few years for Melissa Rosenberg, who was not only scripting The Twilight Saga but also working as head writer and executive producer on the Showtime cable series Dexter (about a blood analyst who moonlights as a vigilante killer). By the fall and winter of 2009, Rosenberg found herself at a crossroads—and looming on the creative horizon was the biggest blank page of all, a film adaptation of that epic fourth and final novel, BREAKING DAWN. "I had done three Twilight movies; I was pretty sure I wasn't going to do Breaking Dawn," she said.

Stephenie Meyer was going through her own creative conflict. The crux of her concerns, Rosenberg noted, was a key confrontation in BREAKING DAWN that the author wanted played without adding bloodshed. But Rosenberg felt that what amounted to "an intense conversation" that worked in a novel was not visually and dramatically compelling enough for the big screen. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn was on hold until the story was resolved—and so Meyer and Rosenberg met for dinner at a Vancouver steakhouse. "That issue was going to decide whether either one of us was going to do this," Rosenberg recalled.

Over the course of dinner, their brainstorming session ended in a creative solution that made sense to both, breaking the impasse all around. "Summit was determined to make this movie, and I'm sure they would have managed to appease Stephenie without me or a steak dinner," Rosenberg said. "But she wouldn't have let anybody do the book if she didn't know it was going to be resolved, that the movie would stay true to her novel. I also realized I wanted to see it through and write 'The End' on it."

The four core novels of Stephenie Meyer's series, THE TWILIGHT SAGA published by Megan Tingley Books.

"Stephenie had to sign off on a choice, as did we all," producer Godfrey added. "One of the earliest conversations we had was whether she wanted BREAKING DAWN to become a movie, and how to do it properly, whether that meant one film or two. The truth is, I had concerns, [producer] Karen [Rosenfelt] had concerns, Melissa and everyone through the various stages of figuring it out had concerns about whether it was right to do one movie or two. The most important thing to all of us was that each movie had to be dramatically sound."

In her outline stage, Rosenberg quickly realized that a single film would sacrifice too much story. "In BREAKING DAWN we had too much material for one movie, but just enough to make two! The main thing we would have lost by doing a single film was spending time with the wedding and honeymoon. No one wanted to blast through that—it was the culmination of several movies, and rich and beautiful and fun! A first film also allowed room for some invention, to push what was already suggested, such as the conflict between the wolves and the Cullens. One of the final deciding points for me was that the second half of the novel would have had to be condensed too much to get into one movie."

"One of my prerequisites when I signed on was I wasn't going to write two mediocre movies. If I could have made one great movie, Summit would have gone for it. I wasn't being forced to do two movies, and I did not feel pressured. Stephenie had approval and was willing to make a deal for this book, but [it was] predicated on whether it made sense to do one movie or two. So there was a lot riding on those first two outlines!"


On Sale
Dec 13, 2011
Page Count
144 pages

Mark Cotta Vaz

About the Author

Mark Cotta Vaz is the author of thirty-three books, including the bestselling Godzilla: The Art of Destruction; the Twilight Saga companions books, all number one New York Times best sellers; the award-winning The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matte Paintings (co-authored with Oscar®-winning filmmaker and Academy Governor Craig Barron); and the critically acclaimed biography Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper, Creator of King Kong. Vaz is a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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