Saturday, March 31, 2012

May the odds be ever in your favor.

*Note: This post contains spoilers from the book and film. So if you don't know the story, be warned! :)*

The Hunger Games?

You might be thinking what some people said when my mom told them we were going to see the film..."The Hunger Games? Isn't that just a bunch of killing?" Yes, the movie (and book) is violent. But there's so much more to it than that.

Last year, I kept hearing hype about the YA book trilogy called the Hunger Games. I honestly had no desire to read them. If something is talked up that much, in my experience, it's very rare that it lives up to the hype. Also, I generally don't like things that are very popular, especially with teenagers. Maybe I just enjoy being contrary sometimes. :)

Anyway, after hearing so many good things about the books, I finally gave in and read them. And guess what? They were amazing. Different (they stand out amongst all of the mediocre dystopian fiction out there right now) and heart-breaking and intense and very thought-provoking. One of the rare occasions when something lives up to all you've heard about it.

So me and my parents went to see the film on Tuesday night. And here are my very random and scattered thoughts about it. :)

First of all, this is probably the most faithful book-to-film adaptation I have ever seen. And that impresses me greatly. :) I'm one of those nerdy fans who reads (or rereads) the book right before I see the film, so I analyze and criticize the many changes that are generally made. I think Suzanne Collins, the author of the series, helped write the screenplay for the film, which explains the close adaptation. And if that's the case, then I wish that every author could have a hand in the screenplay if at all possible.

Sometimes it was almost page by page accurate. And the tiny changes that were made (I did notice them) were so small that they hardly mattered. I could understand why they made them, which is probably a first for me. :)

The casting was perfect. Peeta even worked out okay, though at the beginning, on the train, I was afraid they were going to make him out to be a goober. {By the way, the "love triangle" aspect of the books was always my least favorite part. I ended up liking Peeta better, but only after the second book. I wasn't rooting for him or Gale in the first book.} I was also a little worried about Haymitch, because he wasn't how I pictured him. But he was great.

I loved how they portrayed the Gamemakers, though it made me furious, too. Sitting around in their room with their electronic toys, putting fires and vicious Mutts in the arena to provide "excitement" for the viewers and take out any threats. Playing around with people's lives as if they were meaningless. Ugh. But I loved how it showed them viewing and plotting about the arena, how they put up the crest and pictures in the sky at night. And how they had every bit wired with cameras (the tree trunk). The books always made it clear that you were being watched at every moment inside the arena but never quite explained how the cameras could see you. It was a nice touch. :)

I also loved how they would flash over to the hosts and the people in the districts during the Games. Clever how they explained things (like about the tracker jackers) that Katniss and other tributes would have already known and obviously wouldn't be discussing. I liked how you could see the reactions of people on the outside instead of just being stuck in the arena.

Caesar Flickerman wasn't too much of an exaggeration from TV show hosts now, was he?

Was it just me, or did the whole Reaping scene have a very WWII/Holocaust feel about it? Very eerie. And reading the books, you understand how poor people in the Seam were, but it was even more affecting to see the poverty on screen.

The scenes with Prim were heart-breaking. The ones with Rue were sad, but not as sad as they would have been if the Katniss/Rue relationship had gotten more screen time. {That was one small disappointment for me, that they didn't talk together more about their home districts like they did in the book.} For some odd reason, the salutes to Katniss from Districts 11 and 12 were the parts that almost made me tear up. :)

I loved how they went ahead and included some scenes that showed the beginning of rebellion- the ones with President Snow and the one in District 11. I think they show you just how dangerous the government is and the power they hold, and they point to the fact that Katniss' actions are going to provoke a rebellion. Without them, you would still have Haymitch telling her that she's in danger, but you wouldn't really understand just how much.

Just a word about the violence. There is a lot of violence. I mean, the whole premise of the first book is that the government randomly chooses two teenagers from each district, puts them all in an arena together, and the whole country watches while they kill each other until there's only one "victor" left (yes, it has been done before in real life-Roman gladiators). You can't have a story like that and not have violence.

But the moral of the story is about how wrong and corrupt the Hunger Games are. It's about how the government uses this as a tool to show their power over the districts, and how the residents of the Capitol have disgustingly come to view this bloodbath as "entertainment." And it's all leading up the point that the people in the districts have had enough, and they're going to rebel. The film (and the books) doesn't encourage or condone violence. And the way it's handled in the film isn't gratuitous at all...if anything, it's dwelled on less than in the books. {It goes without saying this isn't a movie for kids.}

So, this is what I think...The Hunger Games was an incredible film. Amazingly close to the book and it really makes you think. Though there are little moments of light, it's a dark movie and there really isn't a "happy" ending. It's not entertaining or particularly enjoyable to watch, and I won't watch it over and over like I do my favorite classic comedies.

I think it's a thought-provoking sort of cautionary tale (pretty heavy for a teen book series, huh?). Maybe I'm overthinking things, but it can definitely be seen as a warning for the world that we're living in. It seems far-fetched and futuristic, but it's happened before. This is what happens when governments have too much control and start using fear and power to control people. This is what happens when we start viewing bloody murders and other atrocities as entertainment.

It's something to think about.

Until next time,


  1. I completely agree! Can't wait to read the other two books, too. :) Thanks for your blog- I just found you recently (while searching for information about the house that is portrayed as Green Gables in the Anne of Green Gables movies)and it seems we have a lot in common! :)

  2. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this film, Kristin! I'm looking forward to the DVD release so I can watch it again and really let all of the nuances of the book-to-film translation "sink in."


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