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Extra Twilight (A review of the Director's Notebook) by Ruel De Vera

If you've been having second thoughts about buying the Director's Notebook, here's a local review to help you decide. [Thanks to Evelyn for sending us the article!]

Extra "Twilight"

Review By Ruel S. De Vera
Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 18, 2009 pp.F2

A PREPOSTEROUSLY SUCCESSFUL franchise that was spawned by a coven of novels, Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" saga, with its very profitable 2008 motion picture adaptation, is trying to enthrall an audience beyond the ones which devoured the books so readily. This cross-pollination of target markets sometimes induces a multiple personality disorder in its ancillary merchandise, though not always negatively.

This is the case with "Twilight Director's Notebook: The Story of How We Made the Movie" (Little, Brown and Company, New York, 164 pages), authored by Catherine Hardwicke, whose fingerprints are far more evident on the “Twilight” movie than novelist Meyer’s. It was Hardwicke (who had directed the gritty coming-of-age tale “Thirteen” ) who had championed the “Twilight” movie’s cause from the very beginning.

“My challenge was to translate this to film,” she writes. “How to take Stephenie’s powerful emotions: delirious, obsessive, hypnotic, profound love and put that onscreen.” She is the perfect person to tell this tale. But are we supposed to listen to her?

The book’s rather on-the-nose subtitle says it all. With its intentional information overload, horror vacui design and glossy photos, “Notebook” is obviously intended for the “Twilight” saga’s young fanatics.

There is a very generous selection of photographs featuring the movie’s reluctant stars, Rob Pattinson, who plays vampiric dream boy Edward Cullen, and Kristen Stewart, the damsel Bella Swan, both in front and behind the cameras. There are snazzy full-color illustrations offering a fascinating evolution of makeup and costume design.

But what “Notebook” has a lot more of is Hardwicke. In page after page, readers will follow Hardwicke’s thought process as the movie takes shape, everything from inspiration and locations to camera work and stunt scenes. It’s surprisingly candid and comprehensive, giving readers a behind-the-scenes perspective that is truly unexpected. Perhaps the best one is the two-page spread annotated by Hardwicke’s assistant that talks about all the stuff in Hardwicke’s bags for location and their uses. A great example: “Gum. Easier than brushing.” Even the soundtrack gets discussed.

But while the kitchen-sink design is admittedly impressive, it also makes the book really hard to read. Aiming for an authentic scrapbook look, “Notebook’s” 10 designers not only has snapshot-style photographs crammed in the pages every which way, but the book uses a font that does look like "penmanship" but is hard on the eyes after the first five pages or so. It’s ironic that a book which has so many interesting things to read opts to be something meant to be looked at, more than to be read, like an acoustics-style ballad done up with effects-heavy guitars. It doesn’t quite all come together.

But its individual parts echo the movie in the sense that some of the information in “Notebook” is pedestrian (Taylor Laurent, who plays Jacob, wears a wig. Duh), while others are revelatory (They couldn’t shoot in the real-life Forks because it was too expensive), with the requisite photos to prove it. The diary traces the production from start to end, beginning with Hardwicke’s January 2007 purchase of a copy of “Twilight” to the various red carpet premieres in 2008. It’s a lot to take in, and one wishes for a larger-size volume to properly display all of it.

“Twilight” junkies will find many things to absorb in this book, though “Notebook” should be a good resource for film buffs, even if they’ll have to squint quite a bit. It is admittedly packed and gorgeous, but can induce migraines. On the title page is a memorable image: It is Hardwicke’s personal copy of the “Twilight” novel, hopelessly creased, repaired in parts with tape, abloom with Post-It notes. It’s a testament to the passion Hardwicke had for the novel and a poignant reminder that Hardwicke won’t be directing the next films.

In the meantime, “Twilight Director’s Notebook” makes for a bloody good souvenir.

Available in hardcover from National Book Store.


  1. Exylle said...

    i already have one and it is really a must have! i'm so happy coz i was able to find one just now. =)

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