Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Hunger Games movie

And why it's important to me.

There will be spoilers. For that, I apologize. 

I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games as a book series. Strong characters, both male and female, noticeable growth in characters and their ability to act and react to different situations, compelling plot and more. What else could you ask for? Then, throw in that the love triangle isn't in the mind of the main character but the guys who think they're part of it and you've got a great novel. When I heard they were making a movie, I knew I would have to see it as soon as possible. Or sooner. (side note, I am also trying to hunt down the nail polish for district 12 locally. I am a sucker for nail polish).

After a eureka moment when I realized the birthday party my son was at was the same time as a showing of 'The Hunger Games', I went the Sunday it after it came out. My parents were with me, as they usually are for these movies - they've sat through all but one of the Twilight movies. Popcorn in hand, we took our seats and were prepared to be disappointed.

We weren't. At all. I read a review that said it cuts parts more than it edits, and I agree. 'The Hunger Games' movie had to cut parts and they picked the right parts. The book is so much in the mind of Katniss, so much about her role in life, including the games. The movie was in the mind of the games and the role that Katniss played in it. We saw the games and how they were planned and how Katniss survived. How she lived. District 12 was stark and lovely, the Capitol was opulent and terrifying.

A few scenes stood out. A scene of two children from the Capitol celebrating the Games with a fake spear. The scenes in the cave. The absurdity of Effie in District 12. The 'moment a tribute becomes a victor' video. The reaping. The return. All beautifully done and with tenderness and care. The echoing of the children from 12 on the chariot near the beginning with the adults in district 12 as they stand before the crowd at the end. So many, many more. Bravo production team. Bravo actors.

But what does it mean to me? What's the point of having a movie like this? What makes this so special? I was struck by this question as I posted on Facebook how much I'd liked it. A friend, a teacher at another school, said they were taking all of their grade nines there. I then found myself chaperoning a field trip with a group of our students. These students had either studied the book or would be studying it in a future year. They were not a group of readers. At all. They were kids that generally needed extra help in their English studies. And they were clamoring to go to this movie. Some of them were kids that have checked in with me several times over the past few years about the movie and how excited they were because they had read the book. They were excited about seeing the movie, not because it was a movie, not because it was gory or violent or had a hot chick in it. They were excited because they had read the book.

Now, I read, on average, a book a day. Some days I just read part of one, other days I get through several. I reread 'Hunger Games' and 'Catching Fire' on Saturday and was halfway through a reread of 'Mockingjay' when I first saw the movie. Having a book in my hand is like having a hand. But for some people, reading is not as natural. But these kids read. They read the book and they liked it enough to pay their money and go to the movie. They wanted to see their friends from the page come to life and see how their favourite scenes were played out. They wanted to see their imaginings and compare how they stood up to the imaginings of the production team. They wanted to see if the effects were good, the story was better and if Katniss could be in real life the kickass person she was in the book. They wanted to belong to the culture of kids who the movie was targeted towards. because they are that target and it thrills them.

That's what 'The Hunger Games' movie means to me. Inclusion. Opportunity. And giving hope to kids. Not bad for a 2 hour and 22 minute offering.


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