Sunday, February 22, 2015

My favorite book

 My favorite book by far was Catching Fire. To me, this book had the most content that was cohesive and interesting. 

A lot of times, a sequel to a popular and successful piece of art can be disappointing, not simply because they are bad but because they didn't meet the expectations that the first work did. With Catching Fire, the world of the Hunger Games is expanded, the characters are even more developed, and the plot thickens immensely. 

I also think that Catching Fire's themes resonate the loudest within today's culture in terms of the themes of oppression and defiance. For example, the whipping post can be thematically connected to slavery, Holocaust, and various different kinds of universal evils in the world, some of which hit home to many United States cultures. 

Slavery (in which many African Americans were whipped as slaves ancestrally), is a big allusion connected to Gale being whipped for the littlest offense.  

I also like that Catching Fire establishes the "Fire v. Snow" theme that resonates between Katniss and the President, appropriately named Snow.

 This is my favorite theme throughout the books - the way that fire versus ice is discretely portrayed in the books is really cool. For example, the way the Mockingjay symbol is constantly doused in fire, and how Snow's rose is white.....

....the little things impress me in the books, and Catching Fire does the best at expressing key themes throughout.
Catching Fire: Book v. Movie

Much like the first "Hunger Games," the book/movie comparison of "Catching Fire" shows that many events that occur in the book - in terms of chronological order and/or just all out inclusion of details - are omitted or changed in the movie so as to better tell the story from a "viewers" prospective, rather than from the point of view of Katniss. One of the first examples in the movie is the very beginning, when Gale kisses Katniss. 

 In the book, this doesn't occur until Snow tells Katniss he "knows about the kiss," in which Katniss recalls the events then. In the movie, the president shows Katniss the kiss replayed through a screen. Story-wise, this is much more linear and easier to follow for a film (trying to do a "flashback" would be awkward and confusing). 

One element that has "grown on me" after seeing the two films so far is the scenes where we see President Snow's life.To me, this adds a larger dynamic to the movie - the viewer sees, up front and personal, how Snow is gradually irritated (possibly scared?) by Katniss' actions. 

This is a perspective we do not see in the books, due to the PoV of Katniss, but for me it helps show the "big picture," as well as develop several characters that aren't detailed in the book. 

One thing that did bother me was that, through the movie, we are not able to see - as well as in the books - how District 12 suffers from Katniss' actions. In the book, we hear how the mines are closed at one point, how food becomes scarce, how people are punished and even killed. We even see Katniss and Gale go to see the Hob in flames. NONE of this is in the movie! 

Well, sort of: 

Overall, the film did a good job of maintaining the key points in the book, and portrayed them with great visual accuracy. The "clock arena" was just as I had pictured, and many characters looked exactly like I imagined.
Hunger Games: Movie v. Book

The first moment of the Hunger Games movie is an interview between Caesar Flickerman and Seneca Crane. ALREADY we are in completely different territory
storytelling-wise than the book, which is predominately told from the PoV of Katniss. Throughout the movie, we are also told various critical points (ex. what Tracker Jacker's are, how the chariot presentations work, etc.) through the news-esque narrations of Caesar and Claudius Templesmith. In all these instances of interview and narration, I feel as if this is simply the best way that the director is able to portray the information of the book without making it a "Jennifer Lawrence's voice is heard throughout the story."

A HUGE part of the movie that REALLY brings out the emotional stance of District 12 and the life of Katniss Everdeen is music. There is one moment in particular toward the beginning of the Hunger Games movie where the soundtrack brings out the solemn, decrepit state of District 12.

To me, the only way one can fully enjoy the movie "Hunger Games" to the fullest is if one had not read the book. SO MANY plot points of the book are either distorted or missing entirely in the movie that were crucial in the book. For example, Katniss is not given the Mockingjay pin by Madge, but buys it at a store??? And where's the Avox girl? Isn't she more important that the ONE line Katniss says about "They might cut our tongues out"? Also, the so called "mutant" dogs in the movie are not what were expected of the creatures depicted in the books. They look more like the dogs from the 1st Hulk movie, made from cheap animations rather than fleshed out to be the creatures of the book. There's also no indication to the ultra eerie fact in the book that these creatures are , in fact, the other tributes!

On the bright side, many huge parts ARE kept from the book, such as Cinna's line "I can't bet, but if I did, it'd be on you!" And of course the two scenes that Katniss has, one with Gale and the otehr with Peeta.

At the end of the day, I can appreciate the world of the Hunger Games was expressed as a whole in this movie, with Katniss leading the plot points of the story. This shows an overall success of Susanne Collins as a write, when one director and production team can fully flesh out an entire world beyond reality through the words in a book. While many book fans will miss the changes made, all can appreciate the story told through the Hunger Games movie.