The Hunger Games finally premiered in Spain yesterday, 20 April. (Don’t even get me started on the absurdity of international release dates.) Of course, I’d already seen it three weeks ago in London for the hefty price of ₤12 (after a ₤3 student discount). For the record, I spent a cool €7 in Madrid.
Don’t worry, I still loved the film, and it was great to have a second viewing to experience quirks that I hadn’t noticed before. I know everybody loves to hate on cinematic adaptations of best-selling books, but I’m usually fine with films that deviate from the original source. (I mean, they’re two completely different media. Of course there will be some [necessary] changes.)
Still, there were a few things I noticed from my first viewing that were only confirmed for me with the second:
1. Katniss’s romantic reluctance towards Peeta did not transfer well (if at all) onto the screen
In the novel, Katniss was very clear that she was putting on a show while in the arena and acting as Peeta’s star-crossed lover for their mutual benefit. Obviously, in the film, we lose Katniss’s first-person narration (and thank goodness that Gary Ross decided against a voiceover), but had I not read the novel, I definitely would not have realized that Katniss was faking her feelings to attract sponsors. You can argue that Haymitch’s note (“You call that a kiss?”) tipped off the audience that he wanted Katniss to step up her game and put on a show, but overall, I didn’t think a non-reader would have caught this. When Katniss and Peeta returned to District 12, and Gale (with Prim propped up on his shoulders) gives Katniss a sad smile, you could have interpreted this as (1) the longing look of a young man who couldn’t bear to see Katniss being paraded around Panem with another guy or (2) a longtime friend who was truly relieved to see that his best friend had survived the Games. And yeah, Peeta commented on the train back to District 12 that he “[didn’t] want to forget” what had happened in the Games. But I did not think this was very clear.
2. The tributes in the book were much more vicious than their film counterparts
Obviously, there is an alliance among the Careers, but I found the friendly, almost high-school-clique-like camaraderie among the District 1 and 2 tributes (after they killed the girl from District 8 who foolishly started a fire) a little exaggerated. They were a little too giggly for the KILLING MACHINES that I imagined from the book. It was interesting to hear Cato’s lines during the movie finale at the Cornucopia (when he claims that the only thing he knows to do is to kill, which gave the character more depth and made me pretty sad for him and the other children from District 1 and 2 who are essentially bred to kill), but for the most part, I didn’t fear the film version of these tributes… and I was terrified of all of them in the book.
And Thresh. The terrifying, silent (yet honorable) Thresh. During the pre-Games training, while Rue is up in the rafters with Cato’s knife, Thresh is grinning to himself with a big ol’ smile that basically was like, “Oh, RUE. That’s Rue just being Rue again!” as if he served in some sort of big-brother-like role. However, in the book, Katniss mentions her surprise that Thresh would spare her life just that one time for Rue because she’s pretty sure that she’d never even seen the two District 11 tributes interact. Though this was a nice touch for Movie Thresh, it definitely softened his silent-but-deadly character.
3. The widespread popularity of the three-fingered signal made no sense
After Katniss volunteers for the Reaping to take Prim’s place, she says that “to the credit” of District 12, nobody applauded after Effie suggested that they do, and instead, the citizens all saluted her with an ancient three-fingered signal that is representative of their district. However, in the movie, you mostly see the District 12 kids do this salute… but Katniss said that it was something that nobody does anymore, therefore I found it very implausible (or inverosimil, if I’m bringing my grad school studies into this analysis) that the District 12 children (almost all virtually younger than Katniss) would know to do this.
Furthermore, it really made no sense that anybody from District 11 would be familiar with this ancient District 12 salute (but hell, obviously I shed a few tears upon seeing this scene that actually took place in Catching Fire but was definitely more effective after Rue’s death).
4. I didn’t notice the shaky camera before but I definitely noticed it now.
A major complaint that I heard across the board was Gary Ross’s decision to use a Blair Witch-like technique for most of the film, especially during the Reaping scenes. I was actually okay with this, probably because I did not notice it at all the first time I saw the movie. But I absolutely took notice this time, but I thought it was an effective way for the viewer to experience the confusion, panic, and uncertainty that accompanied Katniss throughout most of her time in the arena.
But whatever. The movie still rocked. And I can’t wait to see what Francis Lawrence does with Catching Fire. (Listen, people. Stop with the complaints. Face reality: GARY ROSS AIN’T COMING BACK.)
- Josh Hutcherson grew up into a fine-lookin’ dude. But he still always be Gabe to me from Little Manhattan.
- Jennifer Lawrence kicks major ass.
- Clove is just as scary as her character from Orphan, which I still refuse to see.
- Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid’s kid is acting now?!
- If I were a District 12 tribute who boarded that train, nothing would have kept me from stuffing my face as soon as I encountered all that food.
- I feel a definite need to get into shape and learn some archery… you know, just in case I get thrown into some control-room-controlled arena and need to fight to the death.