Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Hunger Games: A Movie Review



Three years ago when I left California, my sweet ex student teacher (and amazing friend) sent me packing with a copy of The Hunger Games. She said it was all the rage in the fourth grade. I took one look at the synopsis and said No, thank you. A post apocalyptic world where youngsters fight to the death? Had my friend not met me? This in no way was sunshiny goodness.

Fast forward to this past January, 2012. I'm in a theatre watching movie trailers when the I see The Hunger Games movie being advertised. It piqued my curiosity enough to pick up the book and start reading. One week later I was already into the second book from the series, and then the third. Miss Blass if you're reading this, you were right on that I would love it ; )

Since it was the movie that eventually spurred me to read the book, I made sure I would be at a midnight release showing. It was actually my first time at one of those fancy theatres that has waiters you can summon with buttons. A cheese plate and bucket-o-beers to go with a movie? Yes, please. I'm afraid it's ruined me for regular theatres in the future.



When reflecting on the movie itself, I have some things to say. In no way do I want to add to the "the book is always better then the movie" conversations. Obviously books can add background and nuances through text that movies just can't. In the movie, this panned out in several ways, most notably being the Mockingjay pin having little to no significance. With the background that the book provides, the pin is seen as a sign of rebellion (and later becomes the symbol of the resistance to the Capitol). I'm really okay with information being left out - a movie can only be so long, and the pin significance just ends up as some juicy secret you can only be in on if you've read the book.

There is also the fact that many movies stray waaay far away from the book on which they were based. One of my teacher friends is still very bitter that in the movie My Sister's Keeper, the wrong sister dies. Talk about changing the story. And I think anyone who's tried to "watch the movie" instead of "read the book" has realized this won't prepare you for a test in school. In this respect, The Hunger Games earns an A. Changes to the plot were minimal, and the storyline stayed true to the book.

No, what gets my feathers ruffled is that the biggest, most significant part of the book was largely ignored in the movie. I'm talking about what might as well have been another main character in the book: food. It was food that grabbed my attention as a reader opening the book for the first time. If you've read book one as well, you can probably still remember the opening scene that highlighted a round of goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves and freshly baked bread, and how these items were so precious because everyone was starving. I mean the word hunger even made it into the title of the book. The movie largely ignored this desperation for food. There was no train scene with the tributes gorging themselves on fancy dishes, no thank you bread dropped via parachute from District 11, and no Lamb Stew to be found anywhere. These were all key elements in the story that were told through the lens of food. The fancy Capitol dishes showed the great discrepancy between how the districts lived near death while the Capitol lived wastefully and gluttonously. The thank you bread told of a poor district who chose not to live by the rules of the games and to instead send support to the girl on fire who would eventually become the face of the rebellion in later books. The Lamb Stew was a symbol of hope during the later part of the games for the two main characters who were trying to make it though alive. Yes, food, in my mind, was just as important as any of the characters and leaving it out robbed the story of its essence.

Having said this, I did enjoy the movie and would see it again. And I'm still totally going to see the next two movies when they come out. On their opening days : )

5 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh... YES! You are the first person I've seen who has the same thoughts as me about the food. They definitely needed to show/explain just how much these people were starved!
    But I did LOVE the movie :)

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  2. P.S. What is that fancy movie theater?? I don't think we have ANYTHING like that in Utah... bummer!

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  3. I've heard that they might make the last book into two movies, so you might have three more opening days to go to!

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  4. The theatre we went to was called Studio Grill but I know there are several different chains of them... AMC even has a version that's opened that they're using as a trial run! I had no idea that the Studio Grill was there until a teacher friend told me about it so maybe there are some hidden ones in Utah!

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  5. Nice posting, I subsribe your feed. Keep it up with fresh idea.

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