As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

The Hunger Games

Posted by Hedwig on March 24, 2012

(cross-posted to tumblr)

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 Maybe this is how you make a truly faithful adaptation: make sure the same criticisms and praise that apply to the book can be applied to your movie as well. In this case: clumsy style decisions are luckily overshadowed by the strength of the story, story-telling and characters.

In Collins’ novel, the first-person present took some getting used to, and the most positive thing you could say about her writing was that it was to the point and not distractingly bad (unlike another teen franchise I could name, but won’t, since the endless comparisons irk me). Ross’ decision to film many scenes in herky-jerky hand-held shots with an overabundance of close-ups? Highly irritating, but admittedly becoming just a minor annoyance as the movie progressed.

 I thought the decision to have Caesar Flickerman and an associate narrate some part of the games, like sport commenters, was close to brilliant. It makes for a fairly smooth way of drizzling out exposition when necessary (what tracker-jackers are, what specific rules are, etc.), but it does more than that: it implicates the viewer. Whereas in the book, we follow Katniss, we’re literally in her head, knowing her every thought and hesitation. You never know what actually shows up on the television screens, just what Katniss hopes will be there, and how she’ll look. In the movie, thought, there’s no doubt that we’re one of the capitol, breathlessly following along with them, interested in Caesar’s analysis, etc.

I haven’t seen this element addressed much in reviews, but I think it’s what makes the movie a valuable addition to the book series, rather than just a translation. I think they could even have taken it further: showing us more things through footage of the games instead of the shakycam, and maybe even showing us some footage of the other (poorly fleshed out now) tributes. But I suppose then audiences might catch on – and they might not like it one bit. 

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