I just watched the movies “Hunger Games”, and “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”. I must say that they were both beautifully filmed. The sets were amazing, the costumes were very well done, and I think they nailed it with their choice of actors. Donald Sutherland was his usual wonderful self, and perfect as the evil President Snow. Stanley Tucci with a purple “do”…excellent. Of course, it was sad to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, although he was very good, as he always was, and for people who haven’t read the book, they will have no idea about his character’s allegiances until the end. Not even a hint. It was very well done.
Now that I have seen Jennifer Lawrence’s interpretation of the character of Katniss Everdeen, I found her version of this character much more likeable. That said, I don’t think Katniss Everdeen is meant to be particularly likeable in the first place. She will never win Miss Congeniality, and I think that’s the point. She’s a teenaged girl produced by a miserably impoverished community, and accustomed to hunger, desperation, and filth. She’s tough, uncompromising, not given to girlish dreams, and a survivor. Like she says to Haymitch, “Nice people don’t win the games.” She knows who she is, and she knows she’s not a very nice person–but she is a good person. Jennifer Lawrence helps soften the character just enough so that audiences don’t cut themselves on her edges.
The story in movie version is as chilling as in the book. In “Catching Fire’, the audience begins to understand that the people of the Capital tread the same thin ice as the people in the Districts–they just have nicer clothes. No one is safe from the whims of President Snow. Very much like a Roman Caesar, he will ruthlessly eliminate anyone who poses a threat to his power, from “slave” to “Senator”. And the Tributes are not unlike the gladiators in the coliseum. The 75 years since the war in Panem is like the Pax Romana. During the Pax Romana, the Romans built paved roads throughout the empire with hotels every 25 miles–a day’s journey–and tourism was born. The wealthy Romans traveled in style with their entire households, staying away for sometimes 5 years at a time. The Egyptians sold them miniatures of the pyramids–and so travel souvenirs were invented. The Roman empire was a wonderful place to live–if you were a rich Roman who had not in any way pissed off Caesar. However, during this time they were also feeding Christians to lions, crucifying criminals, and enjoying the spectacle of blood sports. They were a strange contradiction–so civilized and so barbaric–like the Capital. Very interesting that Collins chose to pattern the Panem Capital after the Roman Empire. It’s been done and redone, but in the “Hunger Games”, it doesn’t feel old.