Archives For Hunger Games

The modern movie age has become a cycle of hype more than an appreciation for film itself. I chalk it up to the mainstreaming of the nerd class and the ubiquity of the Internet. Film culture online is rarely about the films themselves, but the industry and hype surrounding them. I fall prey to it, as well. It disturbs me, though. For about half the year, all anybody cares about is how the films of the Summer will stack up. Once that’s over it’s just a big race to see which films get the most acclaim and awards. If any of these two seasons is better, it’s the awards one, mostly because the good films tend to stick around in the consciousness more, giving them more time to find an audience. The Summer season is altogether a different story. Almost the opposite, really. Months—sometimes years—of hype lead up to one short weekend, the discussion explodes for roughly a week, petering off through the next week, and nearly disappearing after that.

Take a look at this summer, for example, which arguably began early in the Spring with the release of The Hunger Games. In fact, we can start even earlier, with John Carter. Pretty much since that film’s release, the two or three-week cycle has played out like clockwork. It’s partly a sign of a year with many big releases, but it’s also an illustration of how Internet culture works. There are several stages, but essentially they come down to: The Hype, The Pre-Release Buzz, Release, Taking Sides. Click to read more.

One of my favourite scenes ever in a film is one that wasn’t in the book it was based on. In most cases I wouldn’t know what an adaptation left out or added, but in this case the book also happens to be one of my favourites. The scene appears near the middle of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Ron has abandoned his friends, who now sit depressed in the English wilderness. Harry, while contemplating his situation, hears a song coming from their tent. He walks in to find Hermione sitting there listening to Nick Cave’s “O Children” on the radio. He goes to her, takes her by the hand and begins to dance. The scene is only about two minutes long, but it’s a perfect encapsulation of that first half of the book. And it’s completely invented for the film.

The themes of friendship and feeling lost are right there in one beautiful scene. It’s beautifully filmed,  beautifully acted and the song choice is wonderful. What I love most about it is that the screenwriter and director found a way to do something new and truly cinematic. It’s a scene that wouldn’t work as well in a novel anyway. It’s all visual and aural. It appeals directly to visceral emotion. They took the very heart of the book and translated it into filmic terms and came away with the best scene in the entire franchise. Click to read more.

Dear Smug Jerks,

The Hunger Games is not Battle Royale.

Sure, both properties have an authoritarian government forcing teenagers to do battle-to-the-death. And sure, both have serious political undertones and social satire. Nobody can deny this, and I think it’s reasonable to assume Battle Royale, either in film or manga form, was a considerable influence on The Hunger Games.

Other influences on The Hunger Games? The Most Dangerous Game, The Running Man, Soylent Green, Death Race 2000, The Giver, and many other sci-fi films and books.

But The Hunger Games is not merely the sum of a bunch of influences. While I am not the biggest proponent of the novels—I find them entertaining, but also quite poorly written—I do think they cover really interesting thematic and allegorical ground in a unique and accessible way.

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