Imprinting psychology Twilight Style: Jacob and Renesmee (Taylor Lautner and Mackenzie Foy) in Breaking Dawn - Part 2
Jacob and Renesmee's 'imprinting' Twilight beginnings
Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) falls in love with Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) in Chris Weitz's New Moon, the second installment in the Twilight movie franchise based on Stephenie Meyer's bestselling novels. About halfway into the film, Jacob becomes a werewolf. His personality undergoes a radical transformation: the sweet, compliant, long-haired Quileute Indian becomes an abrasive, buffed-up, short-haired dude set on “protecting” Bella from her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).
The fact that Bella has not asked for Jacob's protection from Edward is beside the point. Like those who take the moral high ground to justify their interfering with other people's lives, Jacob is determined to “save” Bella against her will. After all, the other option would be a fate worse than death: Bella would become a vampire and join the Cullen Clan (Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, and Kellan Lutz are the other members).
Now, in Bill Condon's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, which covers the second half of Stephenie Meyer's last Twilight book, the Jacob-Bella-Edward love triangle ceases to exist. After nearly dying while giving birth, Bella has become a vampire, married to Edward, and with a hybrid child to boot. That's the half-vampire / half-human Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy with the assistance of some CGI tweaking).
Imprinting Twilight: definition
In addition to the fantastical Bella-Edward romance, one thing I've always appreciated about the Twilight novels is their intrinsic subversiveness: a 17-year-old having an affair with a centenarian; social outcasts (vampires) with a “soul”; and “imprinting.”
Shortly after Renesmee's arrival on Planet Earth, Jacob “imprints” the newborn. Now, what does imprinting mean? How is it done?
According to Stephenie Meyer's books, “imprinting” is a profound, unbreakable bond: a mix of love and devotion, an everlasting connection. As clearly explained in the books, sex doesn't have to be a part of the equation – well, at least not while the Imprinted One is a newborn baby. I should add that neither the werewolf doing the imprinting nor the object of his imprinting-ness has any control over the process.
Imprinting Twilight Style: talked about, not shown
And how is the “imprinting” done? Now, that's never quite explained in the books. While reading Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, I invariably visualized imprinting being accomplished in the same way that dogs mark their territory. Needless to say, chances are Taylor Lautner a.k.a. Jacob Black will not be seen spraying all over the CGI-created Renesmee in the Breaking Dawn 2 movie adaptation.
True, that might make for an interesting NC-17 Pier Paolo Pasolini movie, but since the Twilight franchise has about as much in common with Pasolini as Taylor Lautner has with Maria Callas, Jacob's imprinting on Renesmee will, much like in Meyer's novel, be only alluded to.
And what does Taylor Lautner have to say about Breaking Dawn 2's imprinting business?
Taylor Lautner quotes: Jacob imprinting on Renesmee.
“Everybody likes to tease me about [Jacob imprinting on Renesmee],” Taylor Lautner tells EW.com. “Everyone thinks it's so funny, and I laugh along with them, but it's important for me to keep in my mind that it's as simple as a lifelong bond. It's not nearly as creepy as everybody likes to joke.” Lautner adds that he believes “people will be very happy with the whole imprinting situation.”
Robert Pattinson, apparently, isn't so sure. “The first scene I saw them together [in Breaking Dawn - Part 2],” Pattinson recalled, “I literally could not stop laughing. I wouldn't have been able to do it.”
Pattinson is being modest here. In David Slade's Eclipse, his Edward Cullen did manage to ask Bella Swan's hand in marriage in a cringingly corny scene – without cracking up. In fact, both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart deserve immense credit for keeping a straight face throughout that whole marriage proposal sequence. (Note: In general, I found Eclipse the most technically accomplished of the three Twilight movies I've seen. Yet, Catherine Hardwicke's original Twilight, however uneven, remains by far the most effective cinematic translation of Bella and Edward's romantic fairy-tale.)
Hilarious Eclipse DVD commentary
By the way, I highly recommend Pattinson and Stewart's commentary on the Eclipse DVD. It's a revealing, hilarious delight, in which both of them – when not giggling – challenge Eclipse's narrative inconsistencies. Pattinson is particularly vocal about his reservations about the film's plot and characters (“I don't like Jacob!”). The commentary is so entertaining, I've gone back to it more than once.
Bill Condon's Breaking Dawn 2 opens Nov. 16. Melissa Rosenberg once again adapted Stephenie Meyer's novel. In addition to Taylor Lautner, Mackenzie Foy, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the BD2 cast features Cullen Clan members Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone.
Plus: Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Billy Burke, Mia Maestro, Christian Camargo, MyAnna Buring, Maggie Grace, Jamie Campbell Bower, Christopher Heyerdahl, Booboo Stewart, Julia Jones, Alex Meraz, Bronson Pelletier, Cameron Bright, Noel Fisher, Lee Pace, Rami Malek, Angela Sarafyan, Daniel Cudmore, Charlie Bewley, Casey LaBow, Kiowa Gordon, Chaske Spencer, Erik Odom, Guri Weinberg, and Masami Kosaka.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 Taylor Lautner / Jacob Black picture: Andrew Cooper / Summit Entertainment.
Breaking Dawn - Part 2 / Taylor Lautner and Mackenzie Foy / Jacob and Renesmee picture: Andrew Cooper / Summit Entertainment.