By Jennifer Billot
This post was inspired by the fact that the final Twilight film has just been released. Can we all breathe a sigh of relief and get on with our lives? I do not care about Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s relationship drama. Now that this last film is done, Stewart can go find a new career as, oh I don’t know, a dinner lady, or a tax collector – anything that doesn’t involve smiling. I will allow him to carry on acting, for now. I used to be a huge fan of the books which is how I am justifying what I am about to say. I am embarrassed to admit this. In fact, I can barely look at my laptop screen as I type it.
I have done a Twilight tour.
I have been to Forks, La Push, even Port Angeles. I have been inside the mountain-wear shop that Bella works in. I have stood outside the high school. I have stopped on the side of the highway to get out of the car and have my picture taken at the treaty line. I shall give you a moment to cringe on my behalf.
In my defence, I would like to point out that this was about four years ago, and even at that time, my love of the books was fading. My love of the movies has never left the ground. They are just shocking. Anyway, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate just how beautiful the Pacific Northwest is, and also how Hollywood completely twisted the sets for the movies.
First off, Forks is poor. Like really, really poor. It is a tiny town, with a rundown main street. You can tell that they have had a bit of an influx of money because of the success of the Twilight franchise; coffee shops serve ‘New Moon Mochas’ and signs gleefully point tourists in the direction of random antique shops saying “Edward shops here!” On the outskirts of the town there are groups of caravans and sheds. Homelessness is a big problem in this area. Hollywood didn’t shoot the movie here. They uprooted the Forks High School sign and filmed at a much nicer, more modern school. The house that Stephanie Meyer used for Bella’s house is not the house they used for the film. This town isn’t glitzy enough. The ‘map’ that we were given by an old woman in the ‘Twilight Visitor’s Centre’ (basically a shed on the side of the road) led us around the town to various locations of interest. It cost $1. It felt so wrong.
La Push is much the same. As an Indian reservation, they are notoriously run down. The beach is pretty, but again, not the one they used for the movie. The one restaurant was dirty and full of flies. There were vast numbers of tourists on the beach. Some reading the books, I guess wanting to get the full Twilight experience. I won’t comment on the tourists in the picture; you can guess what I am thinking.
Much of the forest scenes were shot in the Hoh Rainforest, which is part of the Olympic National Forest – so good job Hollywood! It is just as breath-taking as you would imagine. If you ever find yourself on the west coast of America, a trip to the Pacific Northwest is a must. Highlights include; Mount Rainier National Park, Hoh Rainforest, Rattlesnake ledge, Multnomah Falls, pretty much anywhere that is green and mountainous. Forest is something that this area is definitely not lacking in. Or mountains. Or rain. At least they kept that in the movies.
I enjoyed our little tour at the time – and here I will point out that it was part of a much bigger tour of the west coast – but did I feel slightly guilty? I’m not sure if that is the word. These places were so low on the economic ladder that it seemed so wrong that the only source of outside income they were receiving were from crazed, obsessed fans of a romantic teenage vampire novel, written by a woman who had never even been to the places which she based her books upon. Whether she has since visited I have no idea, but I’m guessing not. The setting has become fictionalised through Hollywood’s adaptations. They don’t exist.
That was somewhat random, but I feel better. Now I shall go crawl in a hole and wait for the intense mocking to subside.