The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (The Movie)

Standard

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.  

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (The Movie)

  1. So, Collins patterns her world after Rome. What, if anything, is she saying about today’s America? The Romans howled for “panem et circensis”, bread & circuses – what is it today, hamburgers and reality TV? That’s something I keep thinking about. The parallels between Rome and America are actually quite freaky, including the similarities between the spread of Latin as the global language of the antiquity and of English now.

    Like

  2. You’ve nailed it, Amo. I think today’s Western Culture (because we probably shouldn’t ‘Americanize’ the attitude) is indeed howling for “bread and circuses”. Translated today, it would be “fast food and entertainment.” And it’s nothing new. It’s one of the negative aspects of a civilized culture.

    The Romans of “Rome” had their work, and then they went home. Just like us. If they needed something, they went to the market. Just like us. To be fair, the Romans weren’t completely bad. To them we owe our Calendar, our Legal System, our Welfare System, the Roman Arch, the bound book, cement and paved highways, tourism, newspapers, and the Roman aqueduct which allowed this brilliant ancient culture to have hot and cold indoor running water, public fountains, baths, and restrooms, and a sewage system.

    The thing is, they didn’t want for anything. Because they could go to the market and buy groceries on payday, they weren’t out working the land. Because there was so much incredible innovation in Rome, they had plenty of then what we have plenty of today–time on their hands. They wanted to go out for dinner and then off to see their version of “movie stars”–the gladiators. There is Roman graffiti written about popular gladiators on the walls of Rome and Pompeii. The more excitement they got, the more they wanted.

    I realize that Caesar provided Bread and Circuses to sate the people, bring himself popularity, and distract them from the many other ‘negative’ aspects of the Empire, but from the people’s point of view, they just wanted the convenience of fast food and the excitement of new entertainment. The coliseum was the final word in “violent action movie”. One Caesar actually filled a coliseum with water, put boats in it and played out a battle at sea. Absolutely spectacular. So much pomp and ceremony surrounding entertainment. Just look at the Oscars.

    We have a lot in common with Roman culture. We want movies, major league sports, television. What’s the difference between gladiators and the guys on the Fight Network? Except the whole death thing. Lol. There’s no difference whatsoever, and fans crowd into arena, bet on their fighter, and scream for blood. Nothing’s changed. It’s who human beings are when they have time to kill–they actually kill, play at it, or watch it.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s