This post will contain spoilers and some unbridled squees, so if either offend you, do go away and read the book. Love and kisses!
I first heard of The Hunger Games a few months ago. I don’t remember if I saw the movie trailer first or if someone mentioned the book. I do know that when I first saw the trailer, Katniss’s reaction to Prim’s name being called covered me in goosebumps. When I read the book, I couldn’t put it down. Spouse and I spent Thanksgiving in Ohio at his parents’ house, and he bought me the book for a belated birthday present. I subsequently walked to the nearby Barnes and Noble and bought the next two in the trilogy.
Here is what made this book special for me, which are, consequently, the things I hope most that the movie keeps intact:
Katniss Everdeen is a female character written by a female author the same way male authors write male characters.
For the first time in a very long while, I read a female protagonist I could relate to. She wasn’t obsessed with boys. She was a provider, a survivor. She adapted to her circumstances and fought for those she loved. Intelligent and resourceful, and willing to fight to the death to defend what mattered — willing even to defy the Grand Pooh-bahs of Panem when it meant doing what was right by Rue.
She is pragmatic and not depicted as being ruled by her emotions. She is courageous and compassionate, and while she is occasionally cynical and selfish, her “selfishness” is born out of a desire to stay alive to provide for her family. She is a hero, and it’s been a long time since I’ve found a one of those in contemporary culture.
She picks who is right for her.
This is a tricky one. If you haven’t read the trilogy in its entirety and don’t want me to spoil it, stop reading now.
When I first read the books, I started out rooting for Gale. He’d helped her provide for her family for years. He clearly had feelings for Katniss. But his reactions to her, his possessiveness when there was never an understanding between them, and his choices in the latter books turned me off of Gale. Peeta on the other hand loved Katniss her whole life.
Though Peeta had to go through the horrid ordeal of being turned against Katniss by President Snow, he came out of it with her help. Even in the first book, Gale’s ideals were shown to be uncomfortable for Katniss. His rants against the Capitol, his anger and tirades — Katniss didn’t want to be the spearhead of a rebellion. When it was forced upon her, she did her best even when people were determined to use her as a pawn, but Gale’s fervor became too much for her. I understand that, and that’s why I found the end ultimately satisfying.
My hope is that they will allow for the subtleties of those relationships to shine through in the movie, but of all the things I’m hopeful for, of that I’m most dubious about its realization.
Not only is Katniss’s relationship to Rue a clear analogy of her relationship with Prim in the arena, but it’s also one of the more politically charged situations that happen in the arena. When Katniss and Rue become friends and allies and Katniss displays such concern and care for Rue upon her death, it sparks a first in Hunger Games history: a gift from a district to the tribute of another district. Rue’s people band together to give Katniss a gift of bread.
And Katniss openly mourns Rue’s death by covering her with flowers and singing her to sleep. Aside from it being a poignant and beautiful moment in the book, I think on screen it could be affecting and truly spectacular if it’s done right. I hope it’s done right.
In the book, these little clever birds are the product of the Capitol’s muttations, the jabberjays, crossbreeding with normal mockingbirds. Instead of being able to spew back whole conversations, they are able only to repeat notes and songs. They’re also a powerful symbol throughout the trilogy, and I hope the film does them justice.
I know, I know. It’s a movie. And it’s called The Hunger Games. But the food is described in such detail in the books (clearly it would be a central feature for people who have always been hungry, much as in the descriptions of food at Hogwarts in Harry Potter), and it could be a great detail.
All those things I mentioned before about her pragmatism and her strength — I hope they do them justice. Hollywood has this tendency to make women in cinema more Megan Fox in Transformers than Sarah Michelle Gellar in baggy overalls in Buffy. Which is to say, they often favor sex appeal and shallow tropes over depth and well-rounded characters. I expect to see Katniss in some pretty shiny clothes during her stint at the Capitol, but one thing I really hope for is that they manage to display the depth of her character, flaws and strengths alike. Without trying to make Peeta into the hero of this show.
Most of all, I’m just very excited to see this story brought to life. I’m going to the midnight showing tonight, and couldn’t be more psyched.
Have you read the books? What are you excited about? What do you most look forward to seeing? ARE YOU GOING TO SQUEE?!
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