A couple of weeks ago when I was perusing  the non-fiction DVD section I not only came across many great workout opportunities, but also a plethora of biographies and documentaries. Documentaries can be good, really good. They can inform your ignorant or misinformed mind on subjects ranging from global human crises to the most detailed examination of an historical figure such as Pope John Paul II or RuPaul.  They can also document lesser known human interst stories or provide a glimpse into specific niches that one would not normally know much about (e.g. blind comic book enthusiasts, female bull riders with barb-wire tattoos, and the people of Forks, WA).

Forks, WA (population 3,532 according to the 2010 census) is the very real town that the very (or not so very depending on who you ask) fictional phenomenon Twilight series is based in. Ironically none of the movies were filmed in this area for, likely, financial reasons. But nonetheless this is the town Stephenie Meyer intricately describes as the setting for the Swan/Cullen/Black Bermuda Triangle. If you are unfamiliar with the Twilight SAGA I suggest this synopsis by The Oatmeal – well worth the read.

I didn’t intentionally time my post about the Forks, WA documentary Twilight in Forks: The Saga of a Real Town the day after the world premiere of the fifth and final Twilight movie Breaking Dawn: Part 2 and a little more than 48 hours before it hits a theater near you. But I’m loving my timing. For all you Twihards or Twiaholics, you are welcome for a little extra pre-game hype. You WILL be in the mood to go stand in line immediately after the conclusion of this post. I have a feeling some of you might even be interested in the movie marathon for all five Twilight movies taking place all day long on Thursday before the 10 p.m. premiere.

All jabs at those obsessed to the point of packing up your life and moving to Forks aside, I’ve read the books and watched the movies. I love the books and love the movies. Almost every (woman) they interview in the documentary says one of the main reasons they’re obsessed or think people are obsessed is because it is a love story. One lady said something to the effect of “it gives my daughter hope that this is what true love is like.” Well I’m pretty sure true love doesn’t involve immortality, sparkling skin, or transformations into animals, but you get the gist. Or maybe you don’t if your first exposure to Twilight was the link posted above.

The documentary included a series of interviews with townspeople and super fans. They focused on why people are obsessed, the town’s history, and what the attention has done for the town. Key takeaways:

– There is a tour “Dazzled by Twilight” you can go on. Some stops on it are just random houses they got permission to say are characters’ houses because they fit (sort of ) the description in the books. One house, the Cullen (the bloodsuckers’) house has the couple (owners) calling themselves “innkeepers” while the Cullens are away “hunting” or whatever.

– The scenery in that area is breathtaking. Forks is considered the gateway to Olympia National Park.

– Websites and fan groups featured include the “Bella Cullen Project”, “Twilight Lexicon” (created out of a “necessity” for the “fandom” according to a founder), “The Hillywood Show”, “Twilight Moms”, “”

– also provides support for male fans. The founder tells the story of how one fellow reader cut the covers off his car magazines and pasted them on his book covers to make it appear that he was reading a car enthusiast magazine and not the Twilight series. As if the page number difference was inconsequential. The website pioneer did bring up a good point to all teen boys — be a fan, say you love Edward too, and you’ll have dates for weeks!

– Creepiest fan featured in the film was a 46 year old dad who has his hair died like Dr. Carlisle Cullen, the “dad” vamp in the movies. But him and his daughter have bonded over the movies, so who can judge?

– The Chamber of Commerce/Visitor’s Center went from 15 people per day to 350-400 people per day. According to their spokeswoman the only country they haven’t had a visitor from is Greenland. So clearly Djibouti residents are traveling to the Pacific Northwest these days.

– There is now “Stephenie Meyer Day” on Sept. 13 every year. Paying homage to the author on the main character Bella’s birthday even though she only picked the town because it was on the top of her Google search of “dark, cold, and rainy.”

– The high school has a parking spot designated for the accident featured in the first book/movie and also empty lockers that are Bella and Edward’s. Apparently they aren’t having an over crowding problem.

Beyond my judgdy eye rolling at the crazed fans, the laundry, and cleaning I was doing this documentary was a 2 on a 10-point scale. The most interesting thing the film touched on was that without the attention from Twilight the town of Forks would be economically struggling much more than it has in the last five or so years. It is a town that has depended on the logging industry for decades and in the last decade the Spotted Owl conservation effort has severely impacted this town’s livelihood. This fantasy world of love, vampires, and werewolves has provided an economic boost unforeseen by any resident. Some residents hate the attention and want their privacy, but most seem to embrace the tourism and fanatics because, after all, otherwise the blood would be sucked right out of this town. (Finally, a vampire pun!)


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