‘Surrounded by the beauty of a thousand candles’: why Twilight is going live, loud and on tour | Movies

The first Twilight film was released 16 years ago and, for many of us, the franchise has long since lost any sense of currency. Without the white heat of fandom surrounding their release, watching the Twilight films today is like trying to watch an echo. It’s like finding a fidget spinner in the street and trying to remember why everyone loved them so much. Without the heft of the cultural phenomenon that surrounded their release, the Twilight films now come off as witless and inert. They feel like TV movies, like a cheap Netflix acquisition dumped into a submenu without fanfare.

And this is to be expected. New films are released all the time, and only a tiny percentage of them are ever destined to be fondly remembered. And yet maybe we wrote Twilight off too soon. Yes, the film’s stars – Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart – have spent their subsequent careers making knotty and uncommercial films, apparently as a direct reaction to starring in such toothless teenybop fare. Yes, it’s spoken about so rarely these days that its popularity feels like the result of a mass psychogenic illness, like the dancing plagues of the middle ages. Yes, it seems absurd that they actually made five of the things.

But it is clear that a sizeable core of Twilight fans have never fully let go of the dream. It has just been announced that the Twilight films are going on a UK tour, backed by a 12-piece band of rock and classical musicians. And this isn’t some two-bit pub circuit gig, either. Twilight will be playing, “surrounded by the beauty of a thousand candles”, at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and the Hammersmith Apollo. These are big rooms to fill, and there cannot be many people who might casually flick through a listings magazine and spontaneously decide to spend the evening watching people play along to a film about an ancient hair-gelled vampire licking his lips at a schoolgirl. No, there is a hardcore Twilight fandom here, and their numbers are many.

Who can say why. Perhaps, after a decade and a half of being dumped into the wilderness, the culture is starting to come around to Twilight again. After all, one of the biggest trends in publishing at the moment is “romantasy”, a portmanteau of “romance” and “fantasy”, in which a lovelorn heroine invariably finds herself drawn to a boy so bad that, in some cases, he recently murdered her entire family. And isn’t this Twilight all over? Doesn’t “romantasy” share a core DNA with a story about your boyfriend doing the best he can to not drain you of all your blood?

Remember the music? … Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the first Twilight film (2008). Photograph: Summit Entertainment/Allstar

Maybe this is just another way to enhance the viewing experience. With theatrical moviegoing on the decline, perhaps it makes sense to appeal to people’s nostalgia by enhancing a movie that they love with live music. There’s certainly a lot of it going around. This year alone, at the Royal Albert Hall alone, the London Symphony Orchestra will be playing along to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, Top Gun: Maverick, Home Alone, Avatar and the movie adaptation of the second half of the last Harry Potter book.

Indeed, the company Film Concerts Live perpetually tours the world doing exactly this, playing along to films as beloved as Jurassic Park and as forgotten as Star Trek Into Darkness. Sifting through their upcoming performances, it’s clear that the film concert industry seems to heavily lean on the highly melodic and instantly recognisable work of John Williams, so perhaps there is something to be said for the experience of hearing an iconic piece of music in the flesh. That said, could you hum the incidental music from Twilight? Could you hum it if someone had a gun to your head? I’m not sure I could.

Or perhaps I’m just being a mopey old grump and people should just be allowed to like the things they like. The people who liked Twilight as teenagers when it came out are now full-blown adults, with jobs and partners and responsibilities. There’s realistically no difference between going to watch a band play along with the music of Twilight as a 34-year-old and going to see a Take That concert as a 45-year-old. Times are hard and the pull of nostalgia is strong, so who am I to begrudge anyone from cheering themselves up however they want? Just, please, nobody invite me along.

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