A Critique of the Hunger Games
A Critique of the Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is the first movie of a trilogy based on the books written by Suzanne Collins. The story takes place in post-apocalyptic America a nation now called Panem ruled by the Capital. Panem consist of twelve districts each responsible for growing or manufacturing goods for the capital. The Capital keeps control by oppressing the citizens and forcing each district to provide one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to compete in the Hunger Games. In the Hunger Games all of the contestants are put in an arena together to fight to the death until only one remains.
With use of sound, costumes, special effects, and the right actors Director Gary Ross and crew where able to create a memorable film that would be loved by fans and non-fans alike. This 2012 film was directed by Gary Ross who also co-wrote the screen play with Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray. It was important to them to make sure that the movie was an adaptation of the book. The book is told in Katness’s point of view so they wanted to portray that throughout the movie.
In a 2012 interview Ross said “I hope that this is a first person narrative where you feel like you are walking in her shoes, because if you ever… One, we wanted it to remain totally real, like we talked about last night. Two, that it feel urgently from her point of view and that everything you’re perceiving, the ambiguities, even the uncertainties, even the lack of clarity about Peeta, you need to walk in her shoes (Ross 2012). ” An advantage of using the first person narrative is that you do get to see this world the way she does. It adds to the excitement and suspense of the games.
One way he was able to accomplish this was in the way he shot the movie. He chose to use hand-held cameras in many of the scenes and avoided using to many wide shots. This helped to give the impression that you are seeing it from Katniss’s eyes. The use of hand-held cameras could be shaky at times but I believe that it did help to keep the story in Katniss’s point of view without using a voice narrative to accomplish it. In a few of the scenes where she is running it is shot as though you are seeing it from her eyes running through the forest. To achieve this he used a cable-cam that is used in the NFL (Ross 2012).
It was also important to cast the right actors for each role. The role of Katniss was an extremely important role to fill. Ross wanted to find someone who would be able to portray the strength, complexity, depth, tenderness and power that Katniss is in the novel. After watching Winters Bone Ross felt that Jennifer Lawrence was an extremely talented actress. When Lawrence came in to read for him he was convinced that she was the right one for the part. He told Entertainment Weekly “But then she came in and read for me and it just knocked me out.
I don’t want to go into too many details, but we did a scene from the movie and it was so amazingly powerful that it was sort of stunning. You glimpsed every aspect of the role and the potential of the whole movie (Valby, 2011). ” Josh Hutcherson was cast to play Peeta Mellark Katniss’s fellow district 12 tribute. Like Jennifer, Ross was convinced after the initial interview that he was perfect for the part. Liam Hemsworth played Gale Hawthorn Katniss’s friend and fellow hunter who also helps take care of her family. Woody Harrelson was cast to play the part of Haymitch, a previous victor and mentor to Katniss and Peeta.
Harrelson first turned down the part but after reading the book and loving it Gary Ross was able to convince him to take the part (Harrelson, 2012). Ross also needed to find actors to play the parts of the characters from the Capital. President Snow, a power hungry and ruthless Dictator who ruled from the capital was played by Donald Sutherland. Donald Sutherland was thrilled with the screen play and after reading it sent an e-mail to Gary Ross asking to be chosen for the part and explaining that he really understood Snows Character (Bissell, Ross, 2012).
The part of Cinna, Katniss’s stylist and the one from the capital that she connects with the most was given to Lenny Kravitz. Another character from the capital was Effie Trinket who was responsible for escorting the district 12 tributes to the capital was played by Elizabeth Banks, who was also a great fan of the novels. Choosing the correct actors to play the roles in the film can often make or break a film. In this case they did a great job with all of the parts even though with a movie made from a book it can often be hard to live up to the audiences expectations.
There were many opinions on who should be cast for each role however I think that Director Gary Ross picked a wonderful group of actors that work well with the characters and each other. The next task was to find the right locations to film the movie. They were working with a small budget of $78 million dollars (Garrett, 2012). In order to keep costs down they filmed most of it in North Carolina. Some of the places included Charlotte, where they filmed the Capital. An Armory in Asheville was used for many of the training scenes.
Parts of the Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest where used for the scenes outside district 12 and the arena (Garrett, 2012). District 12 was filmed in an abandoned mill town outside Hildebran North Carolina. District 12 was the poorest of the Districts so they needed buildings that were in disrepair in order to get the right look. They found the old ghost town called Henry River Mill Village. Peeta Mellark’s Bakery was filmed here along with the home of Katniss Everdeen. The justice building and the square where the reaping took place had to be constructed to give it a Capital Feel.
However, they were able to use some of the buildings that were already there with some work to make them safe. By filming outdoors and in abandoned warehouses they were able to create a very real feeling for considerably less than it would have been to create it in a studio. With the locations decided it was up to the Ross and his design team to make the look of the movie. Gary Ross had very specific thoughts on how he wanted the movie to look. He worked with Philip Messina the production designer to create the look of the capital. They wanted the capital to be big in scale and to look real.
He used many references of grand places around the world including the Tibetan palaces (Bissell, Ross, 2012). To achieve this they used large concrete structures and lots of open space. When the tributes go through the capital for the parade you can really feel the might and power of the capital. This is reinforced when you first see President Snow up high on a magnificent podium embossed by the Capital seal. The citizens of the capital needed to be flamboyant and imperialistic but they did not want it to become outrages or overly comical.
Judianna Makovsky was the costume designer who worked on costumes for District 12, the Tributes, and the Capital. One of her biggest challenges was to create the look for Effie. Effie, played by Elizabeth Banks, was a character seen both in district 12 and the capital. Because she was from the capital she had a distinct look but they wanted to make sure that she did not end up looking like a clown. This was especially important in the reaping scene at district 12 when she was surrounded by the colorless coal miners.
Her outfit in this scene was a little less colorful and flamboyant then what she wears when they are in the Capital. Effie had a different Wig and makeup to go with each different outfit. Makeup artist Ve Neill helped to create Effie’s look along with the now famous Seneca Crane’s Beard. Seneca Crane who was played by Wes Bentley was the Head Gamemaker. Ve Neill wanted to give him an intimidating look that would stand out. Bentley already had a beard so she was able to create a design that really fit well in the capital and marked Seneca as a powerful and evil character.
The beard became more popular then they had hoped and now it even has its own Facebook page! Another big part of this film was the Sound affects supervised by sound editor Lon Bender. Bender also had the task of creating a rich sound environment that was presented from Katniss’s point of view. It was important that the audience experienced what she was experiencing throughout the whole movie. All of the sounds in this film were recreated using the seven-one format (Tash, 2012). With the help of Foley artist Gary Hector they created Foley sound affects for most of the film.
Many of the Foley sounds where created outside in order to keep the environmental feel of the movie. They used both a close-up microphone and a boom microphone’s to record running in grass for the scenes inside the Game (Tash, 2012). Another big part of shooting the parts that took place in the arena was preparing the actors for the action packed scenes. Director Gary Ross called in a stunt group called eighty seven eleven to help organize and create the numerous action scenes including the fight scene at the cornucopia (Bissell, Ross, 2012).
They needed to create a believable fight scene while keeping the PG-13 rating. All of the tribute actors had to go through stunt training. They used stunt doubles less than ten percent of the time and only for very hard or dangerous stunts (Bissell, Ross, 2012). Jennifer Lawrence had a personal trainer, running coaches, archery instructors and martial arts instructors. Josh Hutcherson needed to put on about fifteen pounds of muscle to play his part as Peeta who was able to lift huge bags of flower from working in the bakery.
All the actors that played tributes went through rigorous training to play the part of their characters. The success of a movie is not solely based on the amount of money that it makes but also the affect it has on the people that watch it. Director Gary Ross had his work cut out for him to create a very much loved book into a movie. His goal was to stay true to the novel while also creating a movie that even people that did not read the book would love. With the right actors great crew, and wonderful locations he successfully created a film that will have everyone on the edge of their seats.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 12 November 2016
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