Breaking Dawn Part 1


Breaking Dawn Part 1

Film Info

Directed by Bill Condon
Written by Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay), Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Produced by Wyck Godfrey, Karen Rosenfelt, Mark Morgan, Bill Bannerman

Composed, and Conducted by Carter Burwell
Orchestrated by Carter Burwell and Sonny Kompanek
Music Scoring Mixer: Mike Farrow
Music Editor: Adam Smalley
Contractor: Isobel Griffiths
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London
Mixed at The Body Studio, New York City

Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Elizabeth Reaser, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz

U.S. Release November 18, 2011

Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, playing
Jacob runs
Taylot Lautner as Jacob,
with the wedding invitation
Rob and Kristen on the threshold
Rob and Kristen on the set
Bella Pregnant

Carter's Notes

Melodrama is the kingdom where no feeling goes unexpressed.

When I heard that Bill Condon was going to direct the last installments of the Twilight Saga, I immediately called him. We had already worked together on two films (Gods and Monsters and Kinsey) and I knew Bill to be intelligent, creative, and, equally important, a good guy. I told him I was interested in composing the music for the films as long as he was directing. I hadn't worked on the second and third films in the series, and those films did not use "Bella's Lullaby," the love theme from the first Twilight. Bill said he was excited about bringing it back for these last films.

As it so happens the first thing I had to do was write a piano piece for Rob Pattinson to play on-screen for Breaking Dawn Part 2, which was being shot simultaneously with Part 1, but I'll discuss that further when Part 2 is released in 2012.

Bill had warned me that there would be a lot of music in the film, but I was still astonished when we added it up and found the film would need about 80 minutes of score. The most epic film scores I'd ever written were 60-65 minutes long, and the first Twilight had about 50 minutes of score. 80 minutes filled me with fear because there were only nine weeks before the recording.

The film has so much music because it is a melodrama. The word comes from the Greek melos, which means music. In a classic melodrama the music plays every emotion and every action. You may think that this is true of all film scores, but I usually try to avoid it. I usually try to play something other than what's on screen, in the hope of giving greater depth or complexity to the film and the viewer's experience.

I've had some experience with melodrama. The first time I met Sidney Lumet to discuss his film Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, he emphatically stated "melodrama is not a dirty word." He had made amazing movies with no music at all (Network, Fail-safe) but for this film he wanted me to emphasize and amplify the emotions on screen, despite my reluctance to do just that.

For Breaking Dawn I had to overcome this reluctance again and again. Once you've established that music is playing all the time, you can't really stop without making the stopping itself a big musical moment.

So the music doesn't stop.

Condon Directs 1
Bill Condon directing

Although composing quickly is certainly part of a film composer's job - maybe the most important part - it was a struggle to write so much so fast. Aside from the challenge of getting by on four hours of sleep a night, it was also frustrating not to have more time to try different approaches to the score.

The beginning of the film takes place around Edward and Bella's wedding. The music is warm and inviting - a tone I rarely played in the first Twilight which was more mysterious and conflicted. The issues that had challenged Bella and Edward in the previous films have been set aside and the music in Breaking Dawn 1 focuses on their hope for the future. The end of the movie is exactly the opposite - all challenge, loss and horror. The middle of the film is the part that is most open to interpretation. How best to play the conflicts between Bella and her friends and family regarding her pregnancy?

I don't feel that we had time to answer this question with any precision. The conflicts in this area of the film are generally not as pointed as I would like, and partly this is my fault and partly that of the schedule. I wrote some music that was very edgy ("Morte" for instance), but Bill felt it was too much. In response the material became more introspective. This worked fine when looking at individual scenes, but now I wonder if it results in the middle of the film sagging a bit - losing a tension that it could have had if I'd had time to try more musical avenues.

There wasn't time.

Condon directing
Bill Condon directing

In the last week before we started recording at Abbey Road I still hadn't found a musical solution for the last scene, as Bella lies apparently lifeless, and everyone, the audience included, waits to see if she awakens. This scene is completely unlike anything else in the film. Almost all the music in the film plays the characters' outward emotions, but in this case almost nothing is happening outwardly - everything is inside Bella. Moreover there is almost no dialogue or sound effects. For three minutes it's all music. And I didn't know what to play.

Bill did a fabulous job with this scene. It begins with Bella lying on a table, her body cleaned and dressed and left alone. We go inside her and see the vampire venom coursing through her body, consuming her human blood. Then we're back out again, her outer form changing. Then we go back in again, but this time into her mind, reliving her life, re-experiencing her time with Edward and her family. At the last moment, as her last blood corpuscle is consumed and her heart beats its last beat, we see her as a baby. And she dies.

I knew that this last section must be "Bella's Lullaby" - a recapitulation of her love for Edward - but I didn't know what to do for the first half of the scene. I worked a bit on it every day with no luck. About five days before the recording my home was hit by Hurricane Irene. The house, which is on the ocean, had been boarded up but I hadn't left because I had too much writing to do. The power went out. Iit didn't come back on until five days later when I was in London recording.

During the day the hurricane was shaking the house - as though an infinite freight train were passing underneath - I sat in the dark, playing piano by an oil lamp, looking for the end of the film. And I found it.

I'm not the first person to observe that creativity thrives on disruption.

Of course the romance of that image - composing by oil lamp in a storm - grows old after a few days. I found myself falling further and further behind schedule and ended up writing much of the end of the film during the nights in London, after full days of recording. Not fun. But that last scene turned out great, and is by far my favorite in the film. I love the silence that follows it.

As I said, The music doesn't stop.

Until the end.

CB conducting
Carter conducting at Abbey Road Studio 2
(photo by Michael Montes)


"Mr. Condon works in that world fluidly, gilding it with a necessary sense of humor — Bella and Edward’s white honeymoon bed glows as portentously as an altar for a sacrificial virgin — and imbuing it with a love and a gift for melodrama. He slathers on the music ('melodrama' comes from song or music drama), lets Ms. Stewart rock and the emotions roil. He resurrects the awkward teenage yearning that enlivened the first 'Twilight' movie, but also transforms that initial, crude hunger into something deeper." - Manohla Dargis, New York Times, Nov. 17, 2011.

"Worthy of mention is Carolina Herrera's design for Bella's wedding dress... Likewise composer Carter Burwell's low-key score (similar to his soundtrack for Condon's 'Kinsey'), which eloquently communicates Bella's exhilaration and her dread." - Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 17, 2011.

"The last reel battle, which is intercut with a tragedy involving Bella, is assembled masterfully (also credit Carter Burwell's score)." - James Berardinelli, ReelViews, November 18, 2011.

"Somewhat dispiritingly, but not surprisingly, the movie leans inordinately upon composer Carter Burwell's goosing music cues, but also a litany of modern rock songs. The Twilight Saga isn't the first teen movie to try to move some soundtrack CDs, but the sales success of previous iterations does seem to have informed in circuitous fashion some of the creative choices herein, where songs are used as spackle for incomplete scenes." - Brent Simon, Screen International, November 11, 2011.

"Music has been a vital part of The Twilight Saga from the very beginning... Even the cast has gotten involved in the soundtracks – Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward Cullen, recorded two songs for the' Twilight' soundtrack; new cast member Mia Maestro has a song on this one; and Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella Swan, suggested what has (arguably) become 'the' song of the series.
     It is that song – and the return of Carter Burwell – that make the 'Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1' soundtrack feel like a bookend to the first Twilight movie. Pattinson and Stewart dance to Iron & Wine's 'Flightless Bird, American Mouth' at their characters' prom in Twilight; it seems fitting to have this song play over another pivotal moment in their lives. And I loved Carter Burwell's score of the first film and was thrilled when I read that he'd be scoring the last two. Just like the characters, this score is more mature but still influenced by its past. I love that you can still hear recognizable pieces of the first score – including bits of 'Bella's Lullaby' – in a reimagined form. (And I, for one, am really looking forward to seeing Pattinson play Burwell's lullaby for Edward and Bella's daughter in Part 2.)" - Krista Richmond, Christian Science Monitor / Killer Film, November 18, 2011.

"Composer Carter Burwell, one of the best in the business, has been dragged down to a level of mediocre wallpaper music one wouldn't have thought possible." - Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, November 17, 2011.

"Even the normally first-rate film composer Carter Burwell is dragged down by the occasion, though his score is marginally less watery than the songs that dominate the soundtrack." - Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter, November 11, 2011.

"I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that Breaking Dawn Part I has the potential to become one of my all-time favorite Carter Burwell scores, and it’s mainly down to the increased sense of romance and lyricism that he brought to this project. He’s said, again and again, in interviews down the years, that he hates the emotional manipulation that a lot of scores provide, but that’s one of the main reasons I love film music so much – to feel that connection, that pull at the heartstrings. After all this time, and although he was effectively forced to do it by his director, Burwell has finally made that emotional connection with me." - Jon Broxton, Movie Music UK, December 8, 2011.

Rob & Kristen

Liner Notes

Three years ago, when I wrote music for the film "Twilight", Bella Swan was a fairly typical teenager, at a fairly typical high school, in a fairly typical - if rainy - American town. The music I wrote attempted to play that world and the ways in which love shifted its foundations.

While Bella is still Bella, the world in which "Breaking Dawn Part One" takes place is no longer typical. Bella is marrying a vampire, is planning to become a vampire herself, while her best friend is a shape-shifting wolf. And that is literally only the beginning.

Bella's life is no longer that of a typical teenager and the music I wrote for this film is different as well. In many ways this film encompasses Bella's entire adult life - leaving home, marriage, pregnancy, birth, death - and so the music covers a lot of ground as well. While the score to the first film was intimate and centered on guitar and piano, this one grows dramatically in scale, eventually incorporating a symphony orchestra, choir and a battery of percussion. It also traverses wider and wilder emotional territory, and does so in ways that are frankly melodramatic.

How else would you describe a scene in which a vampire and a man-wolf perform an improvised Caesarean section on the girl they both love, no one knowing what they're delivering?

Despite the extraordinary events depicted in the film (and the music), it's still truly a love story, and when the characters occasionally pause and remember this, there is a hint of their first love theme, "Bella's Lullaby".

- Carter Burwell, October 2011


Leo Abrahams
and The Luminous Garden