March 30, 2012
"With our faith, the odds have always been in our favor." — Nikki Lou on The Hunger Games the Movie
My friend Nikki and I just finished watching The Hunger Games the Movie and it is by far one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I have ever come across.
I have been a fan of Katniss and her trilogy since 2009 (if I remember correctly) when my mentor-teacher introduced the young-adult series to us in class. She couldn't help but keep talking about the story, the characters, and the concept behind the book, and since then, I have been hooked on Katniss Everdeen, Girl on Fire.
After years of waiting for the movie adaptation to hit the moviehouses, whiling away the time by reading fan fic and watching home videos and amateur adaptations of the books, I could only contain myself so much. I had to go out and see the movie even in the midst of paper-writing for my MA classes and grade computation for my college students.
Admittedly, I had high expectations of the movie, just because the books were awesome. But I didn't think the movie would be THIS AWESOME as well.
First, the movie sets, the costumes, and the identities of the supporting characters were so well-crafted that although my imagination would've thought otherwise, they were able to project the whole culture and feel of Panem and the districts that were shown in the movie. More than a couple of times, I felt that, instead of destroying my idea of Panem, of the Capitol, and of the districts themselves, watching the movie has added to my concept of just how far into the future this story is set and how stark the differences between the Capitol and the districts, the ordinary citizens of Panem, and those who come from the Capitol.
I loved how the actual fiery costumes of both Katniss and Peeta actually come out—I did feel my heart stop as if I was actually there in that cavernous arena. I love how Cinna is still the character I can't help but love, gold-gilded eyelids and all. And although I believe Haymitch should've looked more drunk that he actually did in the movie, and that Gale was too much of a pretty-boy he looked almost out-of-place in District 12, I do like how Katniss and Peeta were portrayed: very close to the book's descriptions, with slight deviation for improvement.
Second, although I wasn't really counting, I believe that the film contained less than a handful deviations from the book itself: how Katniss got hold of a mockingjay pin, Haymitch discussing with Seneca Crane, and a few other scenes that I seem to now have forgotten. But whenever there was a deviation, the book geek that I am had a difficult time accepting that maybe, maybe the deviation just made the book look so much better. And accept it I did. Watching the film was like reading an edited, revised version of Katniss Everdeen, Girl on Fire.
Third, although I know the scenes from The Hunger Games by heart, the storyboard and the action scenes were so well played that I could still hear my sharp intake of air and feel my tension rising whenever death was imminent—as if I didn't know that Katniss (and Peeta) would actually come out of this first installment alive. Granted, the blood and gore were toned down to accommodate the young adult moviegoers, but it still did not lessen the impact of having 24 innocent young people fighting to the death in a reality show aired live over the entire nation or what is left of it.
Twice during the movie, I found myself crying, crying silently, my heart breaking for Prim and Katniss as they were being pulled apart by so vicious a punishment for a revolution (that was probably necessary and) long forgotten and for Rue and Katniss when the innocence of their alliance was shattered by so violent and useless a death.
It was during these scenes that I also found myself actually raising my hand in a three-finger salute, to honor Katniss and her sacrifice, to show my displeasure at the Capitol, to promise to avenge Rue's death, and to join in the revolution that was catching fire in Panem.
Fourth, even though the film changed it's narrative perspective (the books themselves are written from the point of view of Katniss herself; the movie has no narration: we are just omnipresent spectators) much of the essence of Katniss' thoughts were still captured through the camera angles and the videography.
Even the music, the soundtrack, was just right for the scenes and it did help create a more three-dimensional Panem than the one I had previously imagined.
Finally, I appreciate that the director veered away from the Twilight-like romance that just seeped through each and every vampire-saga movie installment and attracted scores of teeny-boppers. The few scenes wherein the Katniss and Peeta love-affair were in focus were treated in much the same way the author meant the scenes to be treated on print: they were necessary to the story, but it was not the entire message.
Overall, Katniss Everdeen still remains my hero, whether it be book or movie version. Anyone who understands the blood, gore, and pain of a revolution and who wants change, goodness, and the promise of spring ought to read this book (these books) AND THEN watch movie(s).
They complement each other; they do.
Shelley Jo Rojas Saracin is a full-time college English instructor and is a part-time graduate student at the University of the Philippines, Diliman.