The Hunger Games: A Fan’s Response
by Mia Galuppo | USC
The Hunger Games has all the necessary prerequisites of solid movie. It is aesthetically pleasing, visually impressive and well-written (especially for an adaptation of a first-person narrative). The emotional weight of the movie is shouldered by Jenifer Lawrence, who plays the film’s hardened heroine Katniss Everdeen, and the supporting cast’s performances are all well above average.
But you can get an in-depth analysis of performance or camera work from another source. I am here to provide an alternative perspective, one that forgets about the mise en scene and post-production special effects. I instead focus on the movie as a whole, not as a sum of individual performances or selective camera work. The position that I am going to take is not that of a half-hearted critic, or an amateur film connoisseur, but that of a fan.
That being said, before you read any further I am going to give you fair warning right now that this article gets slightly melodramatic. Not in the Telenovela sense of melodrama, where I will slap you with a fish because you slept with my husband who can’t remember he is betrothed due to a tragic bull-riding accident, despite the fact that he is actually a doctor and not a matador. No. Not that. (But, believe me, if you saw the way Margarita swooped in on Ernesto, you too would be grabbing the nearest salmon.) It is in the same dramatic vein as a monologue given by a lovelorn, angsty vampire. So with that in mind, proceed with well-informed caution.
Still reading? Okay, good. Just in case you live in a vacuum that is void of any media outlets, or you were just too busy catching up on Los Ricos Tambien Llor, this weekend is opening weekend for The Hunger Games. The film is expected to domestically gross as much as $125 million this weekend, but due to a large fan base, and an even larger amount of media attention, it could well surpass this projection.
In recent film history there are a few discernible moments that changed how cinema is perceived by the public, is viewed as an art form and is enjoyed by an audience. Those who are in attendance can tangibly sense a literal shift.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) was the movie that commercialized American violence and sex, and made the X-rating a viable marketing ploy. The release of Star Wars (1977) marked the advent of the blockbuster movie. And, most recently, Avatar (2009) proved to the world that fantasy is no longer hindered by technological limitations.
Am I saying that the Hunger Games is one of the films that alter the course of cinema? Ehhh, probably not. But it has the same feel as Bonnie and Clyde or Avatar. It is as if the movie is aware of its potential greatness. It is conscious of the magical ability it has to make an audience of 200 strangers collectively gasp, swoon and cry. The Hunger Games is aware that for a 12-year-old bookish girl from Topeka it is more than a movie, but a catharsis after a year of built up anticipation. Much like Star Wars, The Hunger Games is not a movie, but an event.
Objectively speaking, watching a movie is an absurdly inactive activity. Audience members are just spectators, sitting in lawn chairs, watching a very, very expensive puppet show.
Despite this unimpressive reality, hoards of people flock to movies seeking something. What that something is varies. Maybe they are looking for a simple laugh? Or a socially acceptable way to cry in public? Or maybe they are looking for a story that does not involve a cheating matador. (What’s that? That’s just me? Okay.)
The Hunger Games is a movie that transcends genre. It could have been marketed as a coming-of-age tale or a sci-fi post-apocalyptic narrative or a doomed teen romance. But it does not fit one niche, but it is rather a species all unto itself. It is a young adult book series, that concerns issues and provides a story that is far more “adult” than it is “young.” So, you see, the film cannot be categorized or defined, it just has to be experienced.
In today’s Facebook-Twitter-addicted society we are all too aware of one another’s opinions. Before we even contemplate investing our money in the consumption of a movie, we make sure Rolling Stone, USA Today or Roger Ebert affirms our choice in cinematic indulgence. These omnipotent figures, judges of screen and story, are strangers who we trust to dictate our individual tastes and personal preferences.
I am not sure what the critical consensus is on The Hunger Games. Whatever it may be, don’t pay it too much attention. If the movie appeals to you, go see it. It’s that simple. A movie of this quality deserves an unbiased audience. So if you are unwilling to invest your all too precious time and emotions, then the characters, story and moral will be lost on you even if you do decide to go and see the movie. This film is a rare exception to a rule that seemed to be set in stone. It is an accurate adaptation that translates a beloved novel almost seamlessly into a visual medium.
True, some anecdotes are cut for time, and the dialogue and story had to be altered, but the driving emotional and poignant force found in the book is ever-present in the movie. And, as a fan, that is all I could have ever hope for, and it was all that I wanted to see. The Hunger Games is a movie that wants to deliver a cinematic experience on an individual level. An intimate connection. A bridge from moviegoer to screen. This movie is a blockbuster epic that has the uncanny ability to be grandiose and personal, all at the same time.
When you walk out of this movie, you will not only be satisfied but stimulated. Encouraged. Inspired. You will feel as if you just got a fish to the face (I can only assume).
That, my friends, is what film seeks to offer.
That, mis amigos, is what the Hunger Games provides.Mia Galuppo is a freshman at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. If you want to tell her anything feel free to email her at email@example.com. Except you Mike! Ya, you!