View my outline for this "countdown" here, Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.
Aren't you so proud of me? In between reading Paradise Lost, Moll Flanders, Ken Brosky's Grendel (which is positively depressing), The Jungle Books, Mrs. Dalloway, and some James Joyce, I still managed to read the first half of Breaking Dawn. That is, I read Books One and Two and the first chapter of Book Three; this is what I expect the first movie will cover. (I'm going to finish the rest, but this was all I could get through before the movie.)
Now I have the daunting task of deciding what I think the movie must include. The thing is, as a whole, Breaking Dawn isn't really my favorite book--Twilight probably is. So I know that the movie must give proper attention to the wedding and the honeymoon, etc., but those aren't exactly things I'm looking forward to seeing in, er, so much detail. (Things like feathers make me glad I'm planning to see the movie alone the first time--that'll give me a chance to get over my embarrassment. These books are just so personal . . . which is what I like about them, but that complicates things when you bring the plot onscreen. To me, at least.) So Part 1 should include these two things, plus the pregnancy, the wolf-pack politics, and the birth scene. Interesting.
But let me get into themes here. One of the entertaining things about Book Two is the friendship that slowly develops between Edward and Jacob; that needs to be in the movie because it sets things up for Book Three/Part 2. This is very vague-sounding, but we also need to understand everyone's perspectives to what is happening. By this point, three books have established who the couple dozen main characters are: now we see application of their different natures. Bella keeps Renesmee because of her ability to make strong attachments. Edward doesn't want to do the same at first because he is too caught up in his worry about Bella. Rosalie helps Bella because she still mourns what she lost with her own life. Sam calls for the attack on the Cullens because his foremost priority is protecting his people. Seth joins Jacob because he has developed a friendship with the Cullens (which the last movie didn't get a chance to show). Leah joins Jacob to be free from Sam. It goes on, going into more detail. My point is that the plot of this book in particular seems very dependent on the individual perspectives of these groups of characters: understanding them is crucial to understanding the plot properly.
The books also draw connections between characters who belong to different groups. Alice is something like Jessica and also like Jane. Carlisle and Sam share similarities. Emmett and Felix. Rosalie and Leah. Emily and Esme. Some of these, especially Rosalie and Leah, come in most in Breaking Dawn. They help us understand the characters as individuals and also to move toward the final book moment when everyone is able to draw together on one side, realizing that their differences aren't so very great.
Some concerns I have about the movie are, of course, about how it will deal with the "mind" thing. More than any of the previous books, Breaking Dawn includes many conversations that take place either half or fully in the mind. You can present a little of this onscreen very simply with voiceover, but too much voiceover would be weird; unless they found a different way to convey it, I can't see that the movie will be able to keep these conversations quite the same. And that would take away from the tone a bit, I think.
Now a note on the Part 1/Part 2 thing. I think it's slightly awkward to split up a book like this. But I guess I should just be glad there's a market to do this for this book; the only other books that usually get a similar treatment are the classics BBC makes into miniseries. Indeed, my favorite version of Jane Eyre is in two parts, each a full movie length; yet I always watch both together as one movie. I felt there was some incongruity with the first of all these Part 1/Part 2 movies floating around right now: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The Hillywood Show did a good job of expressing this in their parody. Part 1 was done well, but didn't really have the moments most people were looking forward to. Part 2 did, but it ended up being almost a whole movie devoted to a finale. That's great when you're a fan, but it gets hard to watch and rewatch. Will Breaking Dawn be similar? In Part 1, will we just be looking forward to Bella waking up to her new life, to our favorites from the piles of characters that will come in Part 2, to seeing the Volturi in action again? In Part 2, will we just get to see the events leading up to the final confrontation?
Even as I write these things, I begin to feel that the splitting won't be much of a problem. The book is already divided into three parts, with a more distinct division at the halfway point. It reminds me of The Lord of the Rings: with all this movie-splitting that's going on, I love to think about how there could have easily been six of those movies instead of three given enough time, money, and energy to do so. Because Breaking Dawn, as I think I mentioned before, is something like the sequel to the trilogy of the first three books; it is separate in its plot and its themes. Even whether or not it was necessary to make two movies out of it, it should work.
These are very random thoughts. I don't think I even addressed very specifically what the movie should include. But sometimes it's better to be more vague, isn't it? If I say, for instance, that I really want the quote on page 284 to be in the movie, I'll just be setting myself up for disappointment. You can't get your way with all the details, so you have to remember what is most important.