As Twilight turns 10 years old, there are no better people to speak to than those who have lived and breathed the film for the last decade.
Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge reached out to Twilight superfans – often referred to as ‘Twihards’ – to learn about the impact this global phenomenon has had on their lives. What he found was that, much like supporting a football team, there is connection at play which is much more profound than we might anticipate.
I first saw Twilight in 2008 – I was 12 years old, and didn’t know it was based on a novel. The promo and hype for the film was pretty huge and I remember those times so well. I wasn’t aware what Twilight was until its trailer took over local TV and radio shows (the trailer was showing and being broadcasted over FM radio every commercial break). It intrigued me, and being an impressionable 12 year old, I was curious about what the movie really was about.
My parents were the ones who got me to watch the movie. Though I didn’t become a Twihard right away, it stuck with me and I was excited to know there were going to be more movies. I particularly loved Kristen Stewart from the get-go. I actually recalled her from Zathura (2005) because her character there was fun and I decided I was going to like her for the rest of my life.
Because I was 12 and it was 2008, I wasn’t really big on social media so I wasn’t aware of fandoms and the like – I just knew I loved Twilight and wanted a romance like Bella and Edward’s.
I didn’t become a full-blown fan until early 2010 when I finally got my hands on the books. I think I went through those four novels in under a week. This was also the year I first got Twitter and experienced what it was like to truly be a Twihard. This was really an important time to me as a high school student as I felt isolated from my family and friends.
I wasn’t really sure of myself during this time of my life, but I was sure of Twilight. Whenever I felt lonely, I had my Twilight and New Moon DVDs to re-watch, I had my books to turn to and at the end of the day, it comforted me to know that Bella was happy with Edward. I also had Twilight online forums I could browse for hours and fellow Twihards to talk to. I even had the Twilight Saga journals (those were my favourite memorabilia) which contained my most personal thoughts and feelings. They all made me feel less alone.
At school, in classes and extra-curricular activities, I was known as the ‘Twilight girl’ (no one ever called me that but they knew that with me, the conversation starter would be Twilight). I had a Twilight button pin on my school I.D lanyard (I still have that button pin today), I was never without my “Team Edward” baller bracelet, and even my school notebook was decorated with Twilight cut-outs from magazines.
At one point, I was Editor-in-Chief for our school paper and I used that power to dedicate an Editorial to Twilight. Among family and relatives, I was the easiest to give a gift to because they only had to find something with Twilight or the actors on. My room’s wall used to be filled with photos from the movies, of the actors (mostly Kristen Stewart), and my relatives who lived in North America would send me Twilight trinkets (I still have a bracelet and three wristwatches).
The last film also marked my final year in high school. By that time, I had fostered better relationships with my friends (they went with me to see Breaking Dawn: Part 1 the year before, so they were as excited as me to see Part 2), and I had grown as an individual.
Watching that final movie was one of the most unforgettable experiences ever – nearly five years led up to that moment. I was prepared to have my heart ripped out of my chest that day, walking into the cinema, but nothing can ever prepare you for a time when a huge chapter of your life finally comes to a close.
Being in college was different than high school. I was a lot busier and had less and less time for Twilight. Introducing yourself in classes as someone who liked Twilight would have some people raising their eyebrows at you and making fun of it to your face. Unlike in high school where I proudly spoke of Twilight and wore my button pin around, my college environment tamed that down.
I don’t know when exactly I began being a critic of Twilight, but at some point most of the things I used to love about Bella and Edward’s relationship started to seem stilted to me. With that, I began to see Twilight from a whole different perspective.
I don’t hate Twilight, but I appreciate it in a different way than before. Wherein I used to want myself to become Bella Swan and have an Edward Cullen in my life, I realised that isn’t the kind of person I want to be. I have so many things I want in life more than romance and a boyfriend. I even wrote a paper on this for one of my classes. But one thing I will always love about Twilight and Bella Swan was how they taught me that my decisions are mine and mine alone. I’m entitled to them, but also to their consequences.
Today, Twilight remains a source of comfort for me but not in the same way it did when I was younger. It’s not every day or every night anymore that I have to watch the movies or read the books to not feel lonely. It is every few months or so, when I am hit with a longing for simpler times and younger years, I put on the movie (I watch the first film the most), or get one of the books from my shelf, or open my journals or the Twilight Archive just to look back at those times.
I once wrote in a journal how “happy and thankful I am for Twilight“, and that still stands today. It was a big part of my life and who I am today. I think it made me realise that I should never be ashamed of the things that make me happy.
I read the books first, and a while after finishing the series I ordered the movies. I sat down and I watched the first three, and really just fell in love with the series all over again.
Whenever I am really stressed out or just kind of need a break, I’ll go and re-watch parts of the movie. Also, I go to my fan account and just talk to other Twilight lovers and look at their amazing edits. The movies are kind of a way to reconnect with the books but in a quicker fashion.
There is something about Twilight that just intrigues me. It’s funny because I can’t relate to the story at all, but I still love it. The movies give me something to look forward to and enjoy even when I am feeling down. They really have brought my life more happiness and joy.
My first encounter with Twilight was in early 2009 when the film was released here in Berlin, Germany. Literally all of my girlfriends and classmates went crazy about it. There wasn’t really a way around it, so I started the books and what can I say: the Twilight fever caught me right then.
I soon became really obsessed with it and it was all we talked about in school. I bought every magazine featuring Twilight, Robert Pattinson or Kristen Stewart, and I watched the films a billion times on DVD. I was only 12 years old back then and I think I really identified with Bella and her ‘imperfection’.
Over the years, the interest in Twilight kind of died down among my friends, so I signed up to Twitter because I thought I might find some nice people to talk about it and to get the latest news of everything related to the saga. Never in a million years did I think that I’d meet such close friends that I still talk to almost daily.
I met people from Berlin, from Germany and from all over the world. Apart from living far away, most of us are the same age and share similar hobbies – even asides from Twilight – so we really can talk about everything. We even visit each other over the holidays. It’s great to know people from all over the world and to visit cities and countries that I’ve never been to before.
One of the best memories I have is the day of Breaking Dawn: Part 2 (2012) premiered in Berlin. It was a freezing cold November day, I skipped school for it (the first time!) and waited with other fans from 7am to 7pm in the cold, just to have the best spot in the front row of the red carpet.
It may sound crazy but these were the best hours. We talked all day about the movies, the actors and the previous premieres. We were just so excited to meet Rob, Kristen, Taylor and even the director and producer of the Twilight Saga. It was the last film and the very last premiere so we all knew that after that night, the Saga would be over… No more promotional tours, no more movies and no more premieres.
Although talking distracts you a bit from the cold, it was still almost unbearable by the time the actors arrived. But we all got pictures of them, we got autographs and most importantly, we were all so damn happy in these few seconds that our cold fingers and toes were soon forgotten.
Although Twilight is over, I’m still a very big fan of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Apart from Twilight, they have mostly done very interesting indie films and arthouse projects which have helped spark my love for movies and cinema in general. Without their films, I would have probably never watched films like On the Road, Good Time and Clouds of Sils Maria. They are so different to the Twilight films and I’m really glad that both of them decided to not do blockbuster after blockbuster, but instead went for projects with very interesting directors.
I became so interested in the film industry that I did an apprenticeship in a film distribution after I finished school and I am now studying film and media culture. You could say that Twilight started my career because that’s definitely the industry I want to work in.
Although it has been six years since Twilight ‘ended’, it certainly didn’t end my friendships with some girls from the Twilight fandom that I now consider my close friends – just like my friends from school or university. We all kind of grew up together with these films, some are getting married or have kids now and yet when we meet up we somehow end up being nostalgic about the Twilight days..
I originally discovered Twilight in November of 2009 when New Moon premiered. At the time of the movie being released, my aunt and mother talked about the series on several occasions. I didn’t pay the series much attention because I hadn’t seen the first movie. That was until February of 2010, when I watched Twilight for the first time.
After that, I was completely fascinated with the concept of the movie and the characters. It was intriguing and very creative, especially knowing that at the time there wasn’t a lot of movies that captured a romantic story in a supernatural world. Twilight and New Moon were so captivating to me that I ended up begging my cousin to give me her Twilight book.
By the age of nine, I was interested in the supernatural, so watching a movie about vampires bewitched me. The movie franchise still has a huge impact on my life and it will always remind me of my childhood. Just the idea of how important Twilight still is – is so empowering. The movies and books are so refreshing and intellectual.
The fan base itself is so dedicated and passionate which feeds my love for Twilight even more. The fanpages and the fandom motivate me to keep my love for Twilight strong and to share with the world our love for Stephenie Meyer’s wonderful creation.
Twilight, for me and many others, has been an escape from the stresses of everyday life. A review by Time Magazine has always resonated with me and reflects my feeling towards Twilight and the books in general. It reads: “Meyer has, like one of her vampires, turned into something rare and more than merely human… People do not want to just read Meyer’s books; they want to climb inside and live there.”
They consume you. The characters are hardly just words on a page. They are created in our mind. The movies did just that. They brought to life the world we all created in our minds and the cast they chose fit the characters perfectly. Twilight will always be in our hearts, in the pages of our novels, and on our screens to embrace us. That means a lot.
It also brings people together. I would not be friends with half the people I am friends with today without the Twilight Saga and for that I am forever grateful.
Twilight has made a massive impact on my life – and not in the typical way for most Twilight fans. It was not necessarily the story that struck me, it was the two lead actors. Let’s just go to the beginning.
In the fall of 2008, I had just started my freshman year of high school. As a 14 year old girl, I was the perfect audience for this film. However, I just was not interested. My best friends definitely were. One was Team Edward, and one was Team Jacob. They would bring in the new magazine covers featuring the boys, and would wear the team t-shirts on our school dress down days. And this was all before the movie even came out. I had never seen this magnitude of fandom before, especially for a movie that hadn’t even come out yet.
But I still was not interested. I was an avid Harry Potter fan at the time (still am) and wanted to spend my time devoted to that. Instead, I would just roll my eyes as they showed me their newest self-made Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner collages.
However, I did, as a Harry Potter fan, recognise Robert, remembering my little crush on Cedric Diggory when I was 11. Good for him, I thought. Still I wasn’t interested though. In fact, when I found out that Twilight was being pushed up from December to November 21st 2008, causing the 6th Harry Potter film to be pushed from November 2008 all the way to July 2009, I was furious and swore to myself that these vampires ruined everything for me and I would never support it.
It was the week of November 21st, 2008. I was still not interested and actually hated all things Twilight. Then, my Team Jacob friend called to say she got me a ticket to the Friday night screening. I was frustrated and was about to say no. I then thought that she paid for my ticket so I owed her one. To this day, I am so eternally grateful for this decision.
The whole experience of seeing this film was jarring. This is coming from someone who attended midnight screenings of every Harry Potter fil at the time. Something about Twilight was just…different. The level of passion and excitement for this, essentially, small indie film that was just starting was absolutely amazing to witness.
The two lead actors truly captivated me. It wasn’t the story or the words they were saying. It was the clear connectivity drawn between them, their expressions, mannerisms and body language signalling this lightning that I didn’t know two actors could possess so vividly. I’m not sure if I was even following the story (I hadn’t read the books at that point). I was just following Robert and Kristen along this new journey that they placed me in.
As soon as I got home from the film, I researched these actors, wanting to know everything about them and what else I could watch of theirs to nurture this new curiosity. This led me into really discovering Kristen Stewart. I had watched Panic Room when I was younger and Speak the year prior. I revisited these films, affirming my admiration for her work. As soon as Adventureland was released the following Spring, the deal was set. I have cheered for her ever since. My life would never be the same.
I decided to start reading the books to pinpoint the fundamental reason of why I was so captivated and, for some reason, it didn’t hold my attention as much as the film had. It was more difficult for me to follow and engage with. Therefore, it was the movie that did it for me. It opened a new definition for the meaning of fandom, and it unlocked the road to discovery of Kristen’s sheer talent.
To say that this film has impacted my life is a gargantuan understatement. It allowed me to discover new films that I wouldn’t have cared to look into otherwise. It gave me the greatest friends as a result of deciding to join the fan base on Twitter at the end of 2009.
When my two best friends who first introduced me to the film stopping caring a year later, I made new friends online that understood me and felt the same way. I could be comfortable sharing a side of me that I was too scared to show anyone else in my day to day life. To this day, they are my backbone and support system, as well as my fellow cheerleaders for Kristen’s work. I am also so incredibly fortunate that some of these “virtual” friends have also become my real friends that I can go see films with and fangirl in the middle of a Chipotle with.
Thank you Stephenie. Thank you Catherine. Thank you Kristen. Thank you Robert. November 21st, 2008 was the date of a new journey that I will gladly keep riding for the rest of my life.
We want to hear from you! Share your Twilight story in the comment section below
Also a special thank you to all of the Twilight fans who shared their story and to @kiera_ryn for making this entire article happen.
TWILIGHT: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION 10th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION is available to purchase from 5 November. This 11 disc set (DVD) / 6 disc set (Blu-ray) contains three hours of new special features and more than 14 hours of extra features from the 5 films original release making it a must-have gift for any fan this Christmas.