Monday, February 24, 2014

This week we've been asked to pick a favorite book from the Hunger Games trilogy. This is a tough question to answer, but I guess I can start by eliminating the final book, Mockingjay. I didn't enjoy this book as much for a couple reasons: I felt like it was a little too depressing to be honest, and also I agree with what was said in class on Thursday, that the book was a little too rushed. It's not that I hate every book that fails to tie up all loose ends in a fairy-tale, happy manner, but I just felt like the state of Panem and Katniss in particular was so dark and left so much to question that I couldn't really get much closure out of the final book. Additionally, as was said in class, the final battle ends too fast and involves Katniss too little in my opinion. She seemed to not play a very key role in the last leg of overthrowing the capital, which kind of left an empty feeling to the end of the book in my opinion.

       I have to say my favorite of the trilogy is the first book, The Hunger Games. The pace of the book and writing style is better and more balanced. There seems to be more of a buildup, and more detail about the background of the story. I enjoy that part of books that I read, the filling in between major plot points. I feel like that gives the book more depth. I like to get to know characters and settings, and without that I feel like the book is moving too fast and skipping necessary backstory.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

As is common in book-to-film transitions, the sequel movie to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire is riddled with small and mostly insignificant differences f

rom the book of the same name. Most of these changes can be attributed to the director/producers trying to fit the whole story into a two hour movie, or to add more action to sell tickets. However, there were some changes that I noticed in the movie that, to me, were much more substantial, and showcased how the director was taking the story into his own hands in certain areas.

In the book, head Game Maker Plutarch Heavensbee is hinted at early on as being a possible ally to Katniss and the rebellion. He gives Katniss an early clue about the nature of the arena when he shows her his watch emblazoned with a mockingjay, and in general the reader gets a much more positive vibe from him than the audience does in the movie. In the film, he seems sinister and cunning, often shown in one-on-one scenes with President Snow where he gives advice on how to best eliminate Katniss and the rebellion all at once. It's only at the very end that he is revealed to have been working with Haymitch the entire time, and that they had planned with other tributes to protect Katniss in the games and then escape to District 13. The reason for this change might be that the filmmakers wanted to create a larger emotional swing for the audience, as the whole movie Heavensbee is seen as evil and is largely disliked, until the final scenes. That's my best guess as to why this change was put into the movie.

Another slightly smaller difference is that President Snow has a young granddaughter. The scenes showing him and the little girl give the primary villain in the movie a more human side, while at the same time showing the affect Katniss is having on the capital. Snow's granddaughter has her hair done in the same style as Katniss, and tells her grandfather that everyone is doing their hair in the same way. This goes to show that despite Snow's efforts, the rebellion he is trying to subdue is taking grip not just in the districts but with the people closest to him. I actually liked this change, because I think it does a good job of showing how Snow is slowly losing control.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

       After watching part of the Hunger Games movie in class this week, we were asked to write about differences between the film and the book. Having
not read the book in almost a year, I at first had trouble figuring out what exactly I was going to say here. But after thinking about it for a little while, I decided I would talk about how in the movie, the audience doesn’t get to hear inside Katniss’s mind like they do in the book.

In the book, Katniss narrates the story, and in doing so the reader is exposed to her inner emotions, the anger, fear, frustration, joy, and sadness she feels throughout. It helps us understand her at a level the movie simply can’t. When she lashes out at people in the movie, I think a lot of times its hard to see exactly why she is so upset. It’s the same with her attitude towards Peeta. In the movie, she seems unreasonably cold towards him and I know that because I saw the movie before reading the book, I didn’t understand her behavior very well. Later while reading the book, I was able to see inside her mind, to see the emotions that cause her to act the way she does.

This is an issue I’ve noticed with almost any book-to-screen transition. It’s no fault of the director/actor, it’s just the fact that unless the movie has voice-over narration, its difficult to visually demonstrate the thought process of a main character. Or any character, for that matter. And when you have someone as psychologically complex as Katniss, this shortcoming is even more pronounced.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The core of the Hunger Games is largely modeled after early A.D. Roman culture, most specifically the Gladiator games and the violence of the coliseum. There are many parallels, the obvious being the concept of pitting ‘slaves’ against each other in a fight to the death as a form of entertainment for the wealthy. Not only is the aspect of the forced bloodbath similar, but the adoration of those ‘competing’ by the privileged citizens who watch is a near mirror image. Rich women of Rome lusted after gladiators. Tributes in the Hunger Games were magnified and paraded around the capitol, wearing elaborate clothing and dining with the very people who were forcing them to fight to the death against each other.

But after watching the film reenacting the life of a gladiator who fought in the coliseum, I noticed that there are a number of ways the gladiator games are different from those of the Hunger Games universe. For example, going into a fight, a gladiator was said to have a 90% chance of survival. Compared to a tribute with a 1/24 chance of survival, being a Gladiator seems like not all that dangerous a profession. Another discrepancy is the fact that gladiators were paid for their work, and many had families and relatively stable lifestyles. Not that being a gladiator was a privilege, but when you look at the two situations, it’s clear that being a tribute in the Hunger Games was easily the more unfortunate circumstance.

That being said, I’m just happy I don’t have to be either!