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Panem’s Anthem

The Panem Capitol District seal from The Hunger Games movie.

The Panem Capitol District seal from The Hunger Games movie.

Although the national anthem of Panem is mentioned several times in the books that make up Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, the lyrics are never revealed.  (Mostly it is referenced in the text when it plays in the Arena at night, just before the faces of that day’s dead Tributes are projected into the sky.)  For the film adaptation of the first book, music and lyrics were composed that played during the propoganda film at the Reaping as well as the Tribute parade at the Capitol.  It’s very hard to make out the words when listening to the soundtrack, but if you watch the special features “Post Production” segment on the special edition DVD, there’s a clip of the chorus recording the anthem.  After watching that clip over and over, I am pretty confident that these are the lyrics:

O Horn of Plenty,

A Horn of Plenty for us all!

And when you raise a cry

The brave shall heed the call

And we shall never falter.

One Horn of Plenty for us all!

(My submission is in line with the general consensus on what the lyrics are over at the Hunger Games wiki.)  I don’t understand why they don’t just officially release the lyrics somewhere.  Someone obviously went to all the work of composing a song that could very plausibly be the national anthem of a totalitarian dystopian fictional government, so why not celebrate that?  Officially releasing the lyrics could have been a useful marketing tool, to drum up excitement and discussion leading up the movie’s release about how well they fit the Panem we know from the books.

For the record, I think these lyrics fit the story perfectly.  It’s an infuriatingly disgusting piece of hypocritical propaganda, but what else would you expect from a government that allows some citizens to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, (Capitol citizens), while subjugating the residents in all other districts to increasingly severe levels of oppression, including food shortages, forced labor, little or no educational opportunities, and limited electricity and medical supplies, not to mention mandatory participation in the Reaping for all non-Capitol citizens between the ages of 12 and 18, oh and if you try to rebel they’ll cut your tongue out and you’ll become an Avox slave.  The distribution of wealth and resources is appallingly lopsided, with the Capitol overflowing and many district residents starving, and yet the anthem asserts unity and “plenty for all!”

It’s likely that many naive Capitol-dwellers actually believe these words represent the ideals their country strives for, that they feel patriotic when the Cornucopia symbol is featured in the Hunger Games prominently every year, not realizing the twisted irony that it’s overflowing with killing weapons instead of food.  And I can totally picture someone like Seneca Crane superimposing the line “the brave shall heed the call” over an image of a dead Tribute, thinking it’s a respectful and appropriate homage, and pampered Capitol-dwelling viewers sniffle for a second while they watch the memorial footage reel of the same Tribute, before they get distracted by the latest gossip or fashion trend or a mirror.  Meanwhile the dead Tribute’s parents and friends back in their home District interpret the same words as a threat, a reminder, that if they try to rebel against this terrible injustice to them and their children, the better-equipped, more-powerful forces of the government will “never falter” in crushing them back into submission.

There are two specific passages in the books that vividly illustrate the gross inappropriateness of the Capitol to claim, through their anthem’s lyrics, that theirs is a nation of “plenty for all!”  The first is found in chapter 5 of  The Hunger Games:

Cinna invites me to sit on one of the couches and takes his place across from me.  He presses a button on the side of the table.  The top splits and from below rises a second tablecloth that holds our lunch.  Chicken and chunks of orange cooked in a creamy sauce laid on a bed of pearly white grain, tiny green peas and onions, rolls shaped like flowers, and for dessert, a pudding the color of honey.

I try to imagine assembling this meal myself back home.  Chickens are too expensive, but I could make do with a wild turkey.  I’d need to shoot a second turkey to trade for an orange.  Goat’s milk would have to substitute for cream.  We can grow peas in the garden.  I’d have to get wild onions from the woods.  I don’t recognize the grain, our own tessera ration cooks down to an unattractive brown mush.  Fancy rolls would mean another trade with the baker, perhaps for two or three squirrels.  As for the pudding, I can’t even guess what’s in it.  Days of hunting and gathering for this one meal and even then it would be a poor substitution for the Capitol version.

What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button?  How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by?  What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?

I look up to find Cinna’s eyes trained on mine.  “How despicable we must seem to you,” he says.

Has he seen this in my face or somehow read my thoughts?  He’s right, though.  The whole rotten lot of them is despicable.

Cinna is unusually sensitive to the hypocrisy and injustice in the system, for someone in the Capitol.  It’s certainly not the norm for Capitol-dwellers to be aware of the food shortages in the Districts, much less sensitive to the idea of conserving resources.  The following excerpt is from Catching Fire, chapter 6:

“Why aren’t you eating?” asks Octavia.

“I have been, but I can’t hold another bite,” I say.  They all laugh as if that’s the silliest thing they’ve ever heard.

“No one lets that stop them!” says Flavius.  They lead us over to a table that holds tiny stemmed wineglasses filled with clear liquid.  “Drink this!”

Peeta picks one up to take a sip and they lose it.

“Not here!” shrieks Octavia.

“You have to do it in there,” says Venia, pointing to doors that lead to the toilets.  “Or else you’ll get it all over the floor!”

Peeta looks at the glass again and puts it together.  “You mean this will make me puke?”

My prep team laughs hysterically.  “Of course, so you can keep eating,” says Octavia.  “I’ve been in there twice already.  Everyone does it, or else how would you have any fun at a feast?”

I’m speechless, staring at the pretty little glasses and all the imply.  Peeta sets his back on the table with such precision you’d think it might detonate.  “Come on, Katniss, let’s dance.”

….

We’re quiet for a while.  Then Peeta speaks in a strained voice.

“You go along, thinking you can deal with it, thinking maybe they’re not so bad, and then you–” He cuts himself off.

All I can think of is the emaciated bodies of the children on our kitchen table as my mother prescribes what the parents can’t give.  Food.  More food.  Now that we’re rich, she’ll send some home with them.  But often in the old days, there was nothing to give and the child was past saving, anyway.  And here in the Capitol they’re vomiting for the pleasure of filling their bellies again and again.  Not from some illness of body or mind, not from spoiled food.  It’s what everyone does at a party.  Expected.  Part of the fun.

My outrage when reading this scene is very similar to the disgust I feel when I consider the shamefully dishonest lyrics of Panem’s anthem.  And that is why they are perfect.

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Stop Trying to Make “Katnnick” Happen. It’s Not Going to Happen.

Entertainment Weekly has revealed their exclusive first official look at images for Catching Fire, sequel to The Hunger Games.  Let’s analyze:

This new cover features Sam Claflin as new cast memeber Finnick and Jennifer Lawrence returning as Katniss.  Finnick is a previously victorious Tribute from District 4.  Spoiler alert–but really how are they going to market this film without letting people figure this out–the 75th Annual Hunger Games Tributes are reaped from the pool of existing victors.  So Finnick, along with Katniss (and Peeta, whose photographic absence I’ll get to in a bit) must return to an Arena and fight against 23 Tributes to the live-televised death.

This time the Arena is–spoiler alert–mostly water, with the cornucopia on an island in the center and a strip of land around the outside of a circular sea.  That’s why their outfits this time are basically wetsuits, although that’s not quite how they were dressed in the book:

This year’s tribute outfit is a fitted blue jumpsuit, made of very sheer material, that zippers up the front.  A six-inch-wise padded belt covered in shiny purple plastic.  A pair of nylon shoes with rubber soles.

The purple belts (which double as flotation devices) probably wouldn’t look particularly sexy, but in the book, the thin jumpsuits are easily ruined and they end up running around in their underwear most of the time.  So the change to wetsuits for the movie is maybe an even trade-off, but I don’t think they’re very flattering.  And it looks like they’ve included built-in flotation devices, like the bulge visible on Katniss’ elbow in the picture above, instead of the belt.   But speaking of book vs. movie aesthetics, you know the movie is going to either leave out the part where they are covered in scabs which are covered by goopy medicine, making them look like they’re “decomposing”, according to Finnick, or they’ll minimize the scabs so they don’t cover their faces, or they’ll strategically place just one wound above Finnick’s left eyebrow or along his chiseled cheekline.  You know they’ll keep him looking hot the whole film, and if they include this line from the book, it will be humorous for more than one reason:

“Poor Finnick.  Is this the first time in your life you haven’t looked pretty?” I say.

“It must be.  The sensations’s completely new.  How have you managed it all these years?” he asks.

Personally I think Finnick looks great on this cover, although from what I’ve seen in the blogosphere so far that doesn’t appear to be a unanimous opinion.  My only complaint about him is that the wetsuit makes his abs and hips look bulgy when I’m pretty positive they are not.  (Attention, Catching Fire marketing executives: you’d better release a shirtless Finnick picture so I can be sure.  For research purposes.)  I’m more inclined to nitpick this presentation of Katniss: why is her hair so shiny and her bangs so straight and perfect, like a Barbie doll?  (It does appear to be the same style braid that she wore in the first film.)  Her face looks more angular than usual–how much did they photoshop it?  Look at the line between her chin and her neck.  And now you can’t stop staring at her huge neck, right?  Necks are weird.

The second exclusive picture from EW is also of Finnick and Katniss, but this time it looks like they’re in Tribute training.  I thought at first that this was the infamous sugar cube scene, but they would be dressed (or mostly undressed, in his case) in their parade outfits if it were.  Still, this picture has that same vibe, with him flirting to tease her and Katniss trying to ignore him and not blush.

quote about sugar cube

“Hello, Katniss,” he says, as if we’ve known each other for years, when in fact we’ve never met.

I mean, this picture looks great for that, but what worries me is the total absence of Peeta in either of these first official pictures.  Peeta was what I was most worried about for the adaptation of the first book, and he was only okay in the film, which is a problem because–spoiler alert–Peeta Mellark is THE BEST.  Even Katniss thinks so:

In this way, Peeta’s not hard to predict.  While I was wallowing around on the floor of that cellar, thinking only of myself, he was here, thinking only of me.  Shame isn’t a strong enough word for what I feel.

“You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know,” Haymitch says.

“Yeah, yeah,” I say brusquely.  “No question, he’s the superior one in this trio.  So, what are you going to do?”

The movies are already off to a bad start doing Peeta’s character justice, and with this marketing it’s like they’re not even giving him a chance.  And how many people are going to look at this and think that Sam Claflin is Peeta?  If they didn’t read the books, if they only saw the movie once, or if they’re only familiar with The Hunger Games through pop culture osmosis?

I hate that these two images are presenting Finnick and Katniss as a couple.  Finnick is an audacious flirt, but he has a true and tragic love, and it’s not with the Girl on Fire.  It was already annoying that they tried to market Katniss-Gale-Peeta as a Twilight-esque triangle when deciding between two boys is so not the bulk of her dilemma or even something that she’s willing to spend time thinking about.  She’s preoccupied with, oh, I don’t know, little things like providing for her family, protecting her sister, staying alive, resisting tyranny, trying to make the self-sacrifices that don’t come naturally to her.  And Finnick turns out to be much more complex than the superficial sex-symbol persona he projects.  He’s got his own secrets and form of resistance.  The relationship between Katniss and Finnick dances between ally and enemy, not “will they-won’t they,” (unless you end that phrase with “kill each other.”)  Meanwhile, the relationship between Katniss and Peeta takes significant steps in Catching Fire, and the total lack of Peeta in either of these pictures is not making me feel confident that the movie will handle him any better this time around.  Couldn’t they have at least included him in the second picture, looking jealous, annoyed, or amused in the background?

Why do the people behind this design feel the need to add fuel to the fanfiction, non-canonical fires?  “omg, Katniss and Finnick, so hawt together!!!” the easily-persuaded, annoying peripheral fans now scream.  NO.  STOP IT.  Go read the book so you can fall properly in love with Peeta, since apparently the movies aren’t going to give you the opportunity.

**update** Two more pictures have been released, (you can click here to see them at EW.com), and we finally get a glimpse of Peeta.  It looks like he and Katniss are on their District tour; I would guess they’re in District 11 and Katniss is looking down at Rue’s family.  The way Peeta is looking straight ahead and there’s a gap between him and Katniss is probably good for that scene but it’s not doing anything to combat the Katniss+Finnick implied narrative of the first images.  The second new picture is Gale being restrained by two Peacekeepers in the center square of District 12.  The Peacekeeper’s uniforms look live they’ve been restyled a little big from the first film, but they still basically look like Stormtroopers.

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Catching Fire Hair

(Doesn’t that title sound like somebody’s head is on fire? Haha.)  Well, production on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has begun and we have some paparazzi photos of the actors in costume on set.  Just wanted to point out that it looks like Katniss’ hair is styled in pretty much the same braid as the first film, so my previous posts on trying to figure that braid out are still relevant.  **SPOILER ALERT** I do wonder how they will handle her hair (as well as everybody else’s) since it should get wet when she has to swim in the 75th Annual Hunger Games arena.  Are they going to show her re-braiding it, is it going to stay disheveled, or is it going to magically revert to looking more polished a scene or two after they emerge from the sea?  We shall see….**END SPOILER**

The other character whose hair has me interested is Enobaria, a career tribute from District 2.  It looks like it’s three braids on top and then a ponytail, with some hair wrapped around the ponytail holder to hide it.  It looks cool, a lot cooler than the blonde woman’s in this photo, (who I assume is Cashmere, the tribute from District 1).  Her hair is styled, but so boring and stereotypical.  Maybe I’m partially biased because I like to wear braids more myself, they look cool and they keep your hair out of the way and you don’t always have to straighten or curl your hair beforehand.

Enobaria is in the top center.

And one more pic–not that I really care about his hair, but here’s a shirtless Finnick on set.  So…that looks good, too…

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Book Peeta vs. Movie Peeta

Well, now that The Hunger Games is out on DVD I guess it’s about time I post my thoughts on the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ brilliant book.  For the most part, I thought it was fantastic.  They got a lot of things just exactly right, (Caesar Flickerman, anyone?), and I loved that we got to see things outside of Katniss p.o.v., like the Gamemakers and President Snow.  I mean, the characterization of Seneca Crane was one of my favorite things about the movie, which I never would have predicted from just reading the book.

Seneca Crane: the bad guy that doesn’t realize he’s a villain. (And is also totally hot.  With an awesome beard.)

I didn’t mind any of the narrative changes that were made between book and movie, because they all served to tell the story better in the visual format.  Cutting out Madge and making the mockingjay pin a re-gift from Prim to Katniss instead was a wonderful decision for the movie.  Movies just don’t have time for all the details in a book, (which is why I would say this movie is a great companion to the book, and I wouldn’t recommend it on it’s own.  I mean it’s a great movie, but people should both watch the movie and read the book.  The book is Katniss’ story, but the movie is able to show the bigger picture, the national conflict that her story takes place within.)  Anyway, there isn’t much time at the beginning of the film to establish the character dynamics between Katniss and Prim, incredibly important because saving Prim is Katniss’ entire motivation for volunteering.  (A scene, by the way, which makes me cry every time I read it, see it in the trailer, or the movie.  Self-sacrifice!)  Everything they showed in District 12 was excellent exposition.  The added detail about a finger prick being part of the reaping registration was genius, because it showed why the thought of Prim going to the Hunger Games is so horrific–girl can’t even shed a drop of blood from her finger without crying.

I know a lot of book fans hated the decision to cut out Katniss’ receiving a gift of bread from District 11 after Rue’s death, and replace it with scenes of a District 11 riot, but I actually really liked it.  It shows that Katniss inspires people to rebel against the Capital that they already hate, which is what happens in the books!  It’s just that in the books, Katniss has no idea there are rebellions until Catching Fire, and she doesn’t really realize what a powerful symbol to the revolution she herself is until halfway through Mockingjay.  The riot scene in the Hunger Games movie shows an immediate response in the Districts to Katniss’ actions in the Arena, and for all we know there were minor riots during the Games.  That scene also demonstrates that the Capital is still powerful enough to shut down these rebellions immediately, violently, decisively.  It fits well with President snow’s lecture to Seneca Crane on the manipulative nature of the Games, “A little hope is fine, but a lot of hope can be dangerous.  Contain it.”  Soldiers and hoses is how the Capital contains an outbreak of too much  “hope.”  And then, after that riot scene, the movie cuts back to Katniss sobbing in the Arena feeling utterly abandoned and alone, with absolutely no idea that so many people are behind her on the outside.  It’s great storytelling and totally in line with the direction the book is going.

Almost all of my movie criticisms were trivial; (I don’t like the shaky cam, Jennifer Lawrence really can’t sing very well, why couldn’t they get an orange cat for Buttercup, or a decent wig for Haymitch?), but the biggest flaw in the movie involved one of the most important characters–Peeta.  Oh, Peeta.  Easily my favorite character in the book, yet unfortunately the biggest disappointment in the movie.  And I don’t think it’s Josh Hutcherson’s fault, even though I wasn’t sure about his casting before I saw the film.   If you watch Hutcherson in interviews, he’s lovably adorable and very Peeta-esque.  It’s the script.  And it’s a shame, because almost every single movie-Peeta scene is excellent.  It’s just, the ones that were bad were crucial to his character, and now I’m afraid Movie-Peeta might have been ruined for the rest of the series.

I don’t want to be overly negative, because I really did love the movie.  So before I bemoan the bastardization of my favorite character, here is a list of Great Movie-Peeta Moments:

  • When he’s waving and smiling at the Capital crowd from the train.
  • Peeta grabbing Katniss-on-Fire’s hand and saying, “Come on, they’ll love it!”, helping her gain favor with the crowd and potential sponsors.  Knowing just how to play the audience and selflessly benefiting her.
  • When he says he has no chance of winning, and tells about his mom saying that “District 12 might finally have a winner, but she wasn’t talking about me, she was talking about you.”
  • When she’s going in for her evaluation and he says, “Hey Katniss–shoot straight.”
  • Peeta’s interview with Ceasar.  Come on.  It’s golden.
  • Peeta on the rooftop, the night before the Games.  Exactly right, just what Book-Peeta would have said, (and in fact very close to what he did say).
  • Peeta yelling at Katniss for her to “get out of here, go!” after the tracker jacker incident.
  • Peeta’s camoflauge
  • Flashback Peeta throwing Katniss the bread, and cave-Peeta saying “I think about that all the time, how I tossed you that bread. I should have gone to you, I should have gone out in the rain…” beating himself up because his act of mercy wasn’t chivalrous enough!  So great.
  • Peeta remembering meeting kindergarten Katniss, “the teacher asked ‘who knows the valley song?’ and your hand shot right up…”
  • Peeta joking “I’ll take the bow.”
  • Peeta tapping Cato’s hand, signaling for Katniss to shoot him there, and Peeta pushing Cato off the cornucopia.
  • Peeta not even hesitating when they revoke the two-winners rule, and telling Katniss to, “Go ahead, [shoot me].  One of us should go home.  One of us has to die, they have to have their victor.” (subtext: and it should be you, I’ve been prepared to die for you this whole time, I love you.)
  • post-Games Peeta reaching for Katniss’ hand and telling Caesar, “She saved my life.”
  • Peeta on the train home saying that he doesn’t want to forget.

Camo Peeta! Of course, Movie-Camo-Peeta croaks, “Katniss…” where Book-Camo-Peeta says “You here to finish me off, sweetheart?” and “Well, don’t step on me.”

That’s a lot of great Movie-Peeta moments!  But…remember what I said earlier about Katniss self-sacrifice for Prim making me cry every time?  It’s the same with book-Peeta; he may not be the most physically strong, he may not poses all the skills Katniss does, but his strength of character lies in his utter selflessness, his devotion to Katniss’ well-being over his own.  It is a strength, it is his greatest strength, (as Divergent‘s Four says in chapter 24, “it’s when you’re acting selflessly that you are at your bravest,”) but Movie-Peeta’s concern for Katniss is portrayed as a weakness and an obsession.

Movie-Peeta plaintively asks Katniss, “why not?” when she says “I’m not gonna leave you.  I’m not gonna do that.”  Movie-Peeta says “I’m not gonna let you risk your life for me,” and “why are you doing this?” when Katniss plans to go get the medicine from the Feast.  When she kisses him, he says, “Now there’s no way I’m letting you go.  Please.  Stay.”  Later, when Katniss returns with the medicine, Movie-Peeta whines “What happened?  You shouldn’t have gone, you said you weren’t gonna go!”  Begging.  Pleading.  Plaintive.  Whiney.  Weak!

Movie-Peeta is almost a damsel in distress that needs Katniss to rescue him. Book-Peeta may not have survived without Katniss’ help, but he wasn’t helpless.

Book-Peeta does not beg.  Book-Peeta maintains his wit and cracks jokes and flirts even as he lies dying in the cave.  Let’s compare whiney, beg-y Movie-Peeta to Book-Peeta, when Katniss is trying to argue she should go for the medicine.

Anger flushes my face.  “All right,  I am going, and you can’t stop me!”

“I can follow you.  At least partway.  I may not make it to the Cornicopia, but if I’m yelling your name, I bet someone can find me.  And then I’ll be dead for sure,” he says.

“You won’t get a hundred yards from here on that let,” I say.

“Then I’ll drag myself,” says Peeta.  “You go and I’m going, too.”

Book-Katniss literally has to knock Book-Peeta out with drugs to keep him in the cave while she goes for the medicine.  But Movie-Peeta is all, “Oh please, don’t go, kiss me, now seriously don’t go,” then falls into regular sleep, and then whines “Aw, how come you went?!” when she gets back.  Book-Peeta’s argument is, “If you try to risk your life for me I will actively sabotage your efforts by sacrificing mine for you instead,” while Movie-Peeta’s argument is “Please don’t go, I might lay here and cry if you do.”  Movie-Peeta in the cave scenes is by far the worst part of the movie, and the undermining of his entire character in the film.  This gives me no joy to type.  In fact it gives me a big ol’ frowny face.  But there can be no other conclusion.  Move-Peeta utterly fails to convey the strength of character of Book-Peeta.  Movie makers, please, please improve upon this in the next movie!  I would gladly take an ugly Finnick in exchange for a proper Peeta.

I mean, when I read the books, I’m like, “Katniss, choose Peeta!  Obviously he is the perfect choice and you’re totally in love with him, admit it!”  But watching the movie, I’m like, “meh, I can see why she wouldn’t really fall for him.”  The movie didn’t convey that she felt anything, that any moment was more than acting for the cameras for her.  And why should it be, if Movie-Peeta is such a whiner?

I have one more character complaint; this one didn’t bother me as much, but I didn’t love Movie-Cinna, either.  I felt that Lenny Kravitz was too abrupt with the delivery of his lines.  He starts talking as soon as he enters the room, and I think he talks too fast for the character, too. Maybe it couldn’t be helped; maybe they couldn’t afford the screentime for him to just sit quietly with Katniss, but that’s the dynamic that book-Cinna and book-Katniss have, he’s gentle and he’s a listener and they are comfortable in each others’ silence.  Right before she enters the Arena in the book, they just sit together quietly.  Movie-Cinna was pretty good, but if I hadn’t already loved book-Cinna so much I don’t know if he would have made much of an impression on me.  I mean his aesthetic is great, but I don’t feel like they established the relationship between Tribute and stylist enough in the movie alone for the audience to be emotionally invested, and **SPOILER ALERT** to be devastated when he is beaten bloody and killed in Catching Fire.  **END SPOILER**

Okay, I think I’m done ranting.

Book-Peeta forever!

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Hunger Games Midnight Premiere

ZOMG you guys, who else watched The Hunger Games last night at midnight?  It was so amazing, right?  (Full disclosure, this post is being written on one hour of sleep and half a can of redbull, so please excuse any typos or outbursts of incoherency.)

I would have to say it was one of the best midnight movie premieres I have been to so far in my life.  I mean, it certainly doesn’t compare to the magnitude and scale and passion and costumes of the last Harry Potter screening I went to.  But I felt extra satisfied at this one because all of the work I put into preparing activities for my friends and fellow fans paid off, and people enjoyed my efforts just as much as I had hoped they would.  Seeing their delighted faces and eager excitement was so rewarding it would have almost been worth it even if I hadn’t seen the movie.  (But I DID see the movie, and loved it–more on that later!)

The two things I was most proud of last night were my tribute training target and my silver parachutes.  I painted the target (with help from some of my siblings) from screenshots of this clip.  It looked amazing, and I got permission from the manager at my theater to display it in the lobby.  People were lined up using it almost the entire time, and I got to see one young teen’s jaw-dropping gasp when she walked in and saw it (and then spent a good forty minutes or so monopolizing it) that just made it so worth while.

The beautiful target my lovely siblings helped me paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The silver parachutes were made from a half yard of fabric I bought and some ribbon, with silver Hershey kiss anchors.  They had notes attached to them that said “A gift from your sponsor–may the odds be ever in your favor!”  I got permission from the manager to go upstairs and open the projection window and throw them out into the audience (about an hour before the show started).  I had hoped that everyone there would understand what they meant, since I couldn’t predict where they would fall exactly.  (They didn’t exactly float but they didn’t plummet either; I tried it with gum anchors and that was too light.)  It could not have gone more perfectly.  The first girl to catch one was actually also the first person in line in the lobby and was wearing a legitimate tribute training replica shirt like the ones in the movie, so you know she was a big fan.  (I mean, everybody there at midnight is a fan.  But she was a fan).  She and her friends screamed when they caught their parachute–“WE HAVE A SPONSOR!  YESSSS!”  It was like I was a benevolent, unseen Gamemaker.  I loved it.

I also brought trivia questions, which I made mostly from skimming through the book with a little help from the Hunger Games wiki, and the last tribute still “alive” in the Trivia Arena won.  We decided an incorrect answer was a wound, and if you got three wounds you died.  I didn’t think to bring arrow stickers or something, which would have been awesome, so we just taped the slips of paper with the questions on them to people that got them wrong.  That led to some joking about where they had been injured–lost legs, arms, or ears–wherever they stuck the questions.  As prizes I had a bag of trading cards that I let people choose from (blind), and the actual victor got to choose from a bag with bigger prizes (official tie-in magnets and small Hunger Games figurines.)  I gave out the same prizes for winners in Rock, Poison, Arrows tournaments, which is what I decided the Hunger Games version of Rock, Paper, Scissors would be.  Rock crushes poison, poison kills archers so it beats arrows, and arrows beats rock because it is a distance weapon but rocks are only effective up close.  I’m sure the logic isn’t perfect but whatever.

I’ll update later with my thoughts on the movie itself, but I can summarize by saying: loved it, great companion to the books that really enhances the world and the story, Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, and Wes Bentley killed it.  Definitely going again.  Wasn’t wowed by Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta but wasn’t disappointed in him, either, (I think the script just didn’t make him as likeable as the book).  Would definitely recommend fans of the books to watch the movie, and fans of the movie to read the books.  Lastly, why is there an “official soundtrack” if NONE of the songs on the album are featured in the film, and only two are played during the credits?

P.S. Here’s my awesome friend @martinchughes sporting his Seneca Crane beard!

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Girl on Fire

EW just released a new pic from the upcoming Hunger Games movie.  It’s Cinna preparing to light the District 12 tributes’ costumes on fire for the opening ceremonies of the 74th annual Games.  It. Looks. Fantastic!  Best I’ve seen of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta so far.  (I’m still worried he won’t be good enough).  But these costumes–they’re perfect!

 

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Hunger Games Trailer Is Amazing

It’s finally here!  We’ve been waiting for so long to see an official trailer for the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collin’s “The Hunger Games,” and this morning it finally arrived.  Premiering on Good Morning America with an appearance by Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta, the trailer is already online as well.

And it. is. amazing!

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss is PERFECT, as I knew she would be.  I love what they included of the Reaping, (the ceremony where the tributes are selected), because it made me cry and reminded me of the part in Mockingjay when the PR team in District 13 is trying to think of what made people love Katniss to begin with, what moments were best to remind people of or re-create in order to exploit that attachment and admiration of her.  Someone mentions that when she sacrificed herself for Prim, when she volunteered in her place, that it was a very powerful moment.  (Sorry, I can’t look up the exact quote because I lent my copy out to a friend).  It is incredibly moving to see the way Katniss screams in desperation, as the guards hold her back while Prim walks towards her doom, “I VOLUNTEER!”  That little clip perfectly encapsulates Katniss’s situation.

Katniss volunteers as Tribute in her sister's place, (and I cry my eyes out at this part every single time).

I guess the trailer didn’t actually indicate that Katniss is the sole breadwinner for her family, that her father is dead, that she must survive the Games in order to continue taking care of her sister and her unstable mother, but the goal of survival is secondary to her goal of protecting Prim.  And they did include that line, when Katniss and Peeta are on the roof, and he says he wants to “think of a way to show them that they don’t own me.  If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me.” (!!! fanTASTIC line by the way, great decision to include it, one of the reasons we all love Peeta so much, he is so good!)  Katniss replies, “I just can’t afford to think like that.”  So we do get the sense that Katniss, although she volunteers for the Hunger Games because it is her only option, is going to fight to survive, and may be willing to do whatever it takes to win, whereas Peeta is fighting too, but for a different cause.  (He’s so noble!  I can’t stand it!)

Peeta says, "I just keep wishin' I could think of a way to show them that they don't own me. If I'm gonna die, I wanna still be me."

It’s perfect, I tell you, this trailer is perfect!  It sets everything up excellently, and it doesn’t betray a single character.  Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket is terrific.  Her overly cheerful and colorful “Welcome, welcome!” when everyone in the crowd is depressed and drab, the fancy flourishes of her hands.  Did you see the way she waves Peeta up on stage so ridiculously, like he’s five, coming to get a prize and not a death sentence?  What a bitch!  Perfect.

I have watched it maybe six or seven nine twelve nineteen times now.  I keep pausing in the middle of writing paragraphs to re-watch it.  The music is great too, I think.  It’s haunting, and it doesn’t sound too modern.  I mean I know this story is set in the future, but most of the districts are actually deprived of the technological advances that exist.  The music sounds a lot more District 12-y than Capital-y.  The music for this trailer ends the same way that the teaser trailer did, by the way, with a Mockingjay whistling Rue’s song.

There are so many more things that I want to see, (like more Haymitch, and Katniss’s mom, and Peeta being the Boy with the Bread, and a lot more of Cinna, and the beauty team, and more of the stuff that happens in the Arena, especially the cave),  but what was included was all really good.  I mean we really hadn’t seen anything except some shots of the filming of the Reaping, and the eight character posters that were released a couple weeks ago.  Oh, and the teaser trailer, but that was just Katniss.  I’m definitely convinced now that Josh Hutcherson is going to make an excellent Peeta, even though they didn’t really let him shine in this trailer.  Everything they showed of him was great, I’m just saying they didn’t develop his character in this two minute, thirty-six second trailer as much as they did Katniss’s.  Which is fine.  Because I know they will in the movie.  (Is it March yet?!)

The boy from District 12 looks out as he arrives in the wealthy Capital in awe.

Okay.  Getting a little more book-nerd with it, did you notice the actual “girl on fire” part?  I think this is the entrance parade of the Tributes, and we see Katniss, in the pyrotechnic dress that Cinna designed for her, projected on a large screen to viewers in the Capital, and then it pans back and we see two Capital dwellers watching the show with their little blue drinks and tiny iPod-ish screen, right?

The Girl on Fire

Also, towards the end we see the District 12 salute.  Katniss appears to be sending a shout-out to her District from the Arena, and the crowd watching at home responds with the same gesture.  In the book, they do this when she volunteers at the Reaping, and Katniss does it in the Arena when an ally dies.  But this looks like the very beginning of the Games, before the buzzer goes off, when each contestant is standing on their little circle.  She’s pretty unscathed, and it’s too grassy to be the forest death scene I’m thinking of.  Or, I don’t know, maybe she’s doing a farewell to the body as it’s taken away by the helicopter, and then the shot of District 12 doing it too is actually from the Reaping?  (If so I think that’s the only clip in this trailer from the second half of the movie.  Everything else is before the Games or the first few seconds of the 74th Annual Game itself).  I think it’s an interesting way to include the sorts of scenes we didn’t get to see from Katniss’s narration, (like people watching the Games and reacting back home, or in the Capital).

The District 12 salute.

Here’s the description of the first use of this symbol in the book:

Then something unexpected happens.  At least, I don’t expect it because I don’t think of District 12 as a place that cares about me.  But a shift has occurred since I stepped up to take Prim’s place, and now it seems I have become something precious.  At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me.  It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals.  It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love.

I thought the styling of the Capital characters was spot-on.  I saw someone with pinkish, reddish skin in one quick shot.  I loved the swirls in the head Gamemaker’s facial hair.  I liked the shot of the Capital we saw, nestled in the mountains of what used to be Colorado.  I loved the ornateness of it all.  It’s perfect.  This looks like it’s going to be an incredibly faithful adaptation.  Hooray!

Oh, and it looks like they’ve included the scene where the red-headed girl trying to escape the Capital is captured by the pursuing aircraft in the woods outside of District 12.  In the books, this is a flash-back that Katniss remembers when she sees the same girl serving as her Avox, (a servant who’s tongue has been cut out so they are literally “without voice”),  in the Capital.  But it’s a good change to make this actually happen at the beginning of the film rather than as a flashback to sometime before the main narrative, because it won’t disrupt the flow of action as much, and it will give a little more time on screen to develop Gale and Katniss’s relationship.

If you haven’t read this book series yet, why the hell not?!  Get cracking.  You have until March 23, 2012.  It’s amazing.  And may the odds be ever in your favor!

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Eight Hunger Games Posters

I really wanted to make a pun in the title about hunger and eight-ate, but I couldn’t think of a good one.

So, yesterday Lionsgate released eight character posters for the Hunger Games movie (which is scheduled for a March 2012 release date.  March 23, I think?)  I’m not going to repost all the pictures here, at least not right now, because they’re everywhere and also I don’t have time to download and caption them all right now.  You can easily google them I’m sure, or you can see them all collected here.

My thoughts: I kind of like how overly-airbrushed their skin is.  I mean they look almost like plastic dolls, but it’s kind of great because that’s totally how the Capital would market their tributes!  That was certainly one of the traits of the rotting society’s elite, that they were overly obsessed with superficial appearances and the first thing that happened to newly selected tributes was that they got a makeover.  Looking at Katniss, Peeta, Rue, and Cato’s posters make me believe I’m seeing something very close to what the Capital would have produced to promote their 74th annual Hunger Games.

Of course, not all of the character posters released were actually tributes.  I expected to see Gale, it totally makes sense to see one of Effie and Cinna (I forgot they cast Lenny Kravitz as Cinna!  I think he looks pretty good, he’s styled right for the character anyway), and then there’s Haymitch.  He looks great, too.   I think it’s a little strange that we got a Cato poster and not a Prim one, because I consider her a much more important character.  She influences Katniss’ motivations and actions in a crucial way, but screen-time-wise I guess I can concede that Cato will be featured more than Prim in the movie adaptation of this story.  We won’t be inside Katniss’ head as much, hearing her think about Prim.  And surely Prim will be featured on a poster yet to come.

Rue’s poster is my least favorite.  I don’t like how her shoulders are pushed so far back so her chest sticks out.  It’s how I imagine the Capital would want her to pose, to seem more womanly and attractive, but she’s just a little girl.  She should posed more innocently.  Maybe that’s what they were going for with the downcast eyes, innocent and vulnerable?  She’s the only one not looking straight forward in this set.  But in the books, Rue doesn’t shy away from the challenge of competing against kids that are bigger and stronger than her, she is resourceful and determined.  I don’t picture her looking down.  I think it’s going to take away from her character if the movie makes her weaker in order to make Katniss look more heroic in her protection of her.

My sister pointed out to me that Katniss is facing the opposite way from everyone else, which is fabulous because of course she is a rebel, going against the grain, turning all of Panem down a new path.  PLEASE let us see a real trailer, soon!

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“The Hunger Games” teaser trailer

Finally we got our first glimpse of live action from The Hunger Games movie, (coming to theaters this March), and we still haven’t seen Peeta in action!  He’s the part I’m most worried about.  I know Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss will be great.  And she does look great in this teeny tiny, very unsatisfying (but very teaser-y, making-you-want-more so mission accomplished) clip.  Here’s the Lionsgate official HD version from youtube:

The voice-over is Gale.  Not direct lines from the book.  I assume these lines are from Gale’s “goodbye, you’re going to the Hunger Games, I hope you survive, I-don’t-seem-to-have-time-to-tell-you-that-I’m-in-love-with-you” speech to Katniss right after the Reaping.  Here’s the closest thing in the book to what he says in this clip:

“Katniss, it’s just hunting.  You’re the best hunter I know.”

So, alright, those lines are pretty good, and they do sort of set up the premise pretty well.

In the very first few seconds when it was just the forest I thought, oh no, it looks like Twilight.  You do NOT do this series a favor by comparing it to Twilight!  But then it got better.  Katniss is hardcore.  My favorite part of this teaser is probably her face when she fires off that arrow at the end.  Who or what is she shooting?  From her face I would say it’s when she shoots Marvel to avenge Rue.  That’s what it looks like to me, for sure, and that’s kind of the way it happens in the book, she comes running and immediately kills him.

Every bit shown except the ones with the fire are post-tracker jacker, when she’s got the bow and arrow.  These are good choices, because the bow is definitely part of Katniss’ iconic image, but so is the “girl on fire” motif.  So this teaser really includes both of those elements.  And we don’t need to see the tracker jacker scene, although some people were speculating that we would, because in this context where it’s really just trying to set up the basic story and get you excited about it that would probably be distracting or confusing.  i mean she’s hallucinating and her face is swollen and puffy.

No, I think the producers of this teaser trailer made good decisions, although I am still dying to see some Josh Hutcherson/Peeta Mellark action!  So much so, I temporarily convinced myself that the flash of a close-up on somebody’s eyes (at about the 24-second mark) might have been him.  The eyes looked too dark to be Jennifer’s, and I didn’t think she was going to be wearing contacts since she wasn’t in the pictures of her in costume that were in Entertainment Weekly awhile back.  I thought it could be Peeta, hiding out with an injured leg, waiting for Katniss to rescue him.

i analyze the eyes from the teaser trailer, hoping we've seen a glimpse of Peeta

Unfortunately, all this close scrutiny only made me realize that is HAS to be Katniss because the person in this close-up has the same nose-freckle as Jennifer Lawrence.  (My husband, who has been leaning over my shoulder mocking me and my obsession, insists that I give him credit for first noticing the freckle.)

jennifer lawrence's nose-freckle

So…is she gonna be wearing contacts?  Or is the lighting in that particular shot just kinda dark?  It’s probably just the lighting.  Damn!  I really want to see/hear some Peeta!  When do we get a real trailer?

Also, is the whistling at the very end supposed to be the mockingjay song that Rue sings?  The books says it’s only four or so notes, right?  I count four whistled notes at the end.  I’m pretty sure that’s Rue’s song!

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“Hunger Games” Boys

Yesterday the first pictures of Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth as Peeta and Gale hit the internet.  Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss was revealed a few months ago, and I thought she looked great.  Having seen Winter’s Bone I never really had any doubt that she’d make a great Katniss, but I was concerned about the casting of these boys.  The first picture was them on the cover of this week’s Entertainment Weekly.

Tiny Gale, Giant Peeta

My initial reaction was, “WHAT?! HORRIBLE!  WHAT?!  BAH, GROSS, THEY LOOK TERRIBLE, THAT’S NOT BLONDE, WHY ARE PEETA’S ARMS SO BIG?!”

Thirty seconds later I had calmed down enough to realize it was not horrible, and Gale actually looks pretty good.  Definitely like he could be mistaken for a cousin of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss.  But Josh’s hair is far from the Peeta-blonde I imagined, and I still think his arms are too big.   I guess he is supposed to be strongish from tossing his baker daddy’s bags of flour around or something.  I just don’t remember him being described that way, maybe because mostly the book focuses on how sensitive he is and how Katniss sees him as a weakness or a liability.

I think part of the reason the cover is so weird to me is that in real life Hutcherson is way shorter than Hemsworth, like nine inches shorter.  To get this cover where they look roughly the same height, some trickery is involved.  Maybe Hutcherson is standing a lot closer to the camera, and that’s partly why his arms looks so big (and Hemsworth, who is supposed to be the big muscular Gale, looks teeny tiny!  With an itty bitty waist, even!)  And what kind of a costume is that supposed to be for Peeta?  Is that even a costume?  He’s just wearing a t-shirt!  Is this really a “first look” at Gale and Peeta or is it just the first look at the hair dye jobs on these guys?  And the angsty faces, I guess…I just really don’t like Hutcherson’s face in this picture.

This is how I pictured Peeta while reading the books:

Hunter Parish, actor on the show Weeds

Anyway, later in the day I saw this picture:

The Boy with the Bread!

And I thought, YES!  Now THAT looks like Peeta.  The boy with the bread.  Looking at this I can absolutely picture him sneaking outside in the rain to give his hungry little crush some life-saving sustenance.  Still not blonde, actually his hair looks even darker in this picture, but I love it.  This is the closest I’ve come to getting excited about Hutcherson in this role.  I know Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins keep saying that he’s amazing, that his audition blew them away, and that makes me feel better, but I haven’t seen it with my own eyes yet.  I hope when the trailer comes out and I get to see him deliver his lines then I will be totally on board.  Peeta is definitely my favorite character.  He’s so good!  They have to get him right!

Finally, this picture of Katniss and Gale together in the woods confirmed my thoughts upon seeing the cover that Hemsworth was going to be great in this role.  It looks perfect.

Katniss + Gale

The funny thing is, when I read the books I am 100% team Peeta and I almost hate Gale, but looking at these pictures I totally love Gale and am squeamish and turned off by Peeta.  I hope Hutcherson can deliver a really great performance that makes me change my mind back, otherwise, I might become team movie-Gale!

At least I don’t have to worry about Katniss.  She’s the most important character to get right, for sure.

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