Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Hunger Games

Besides being a massive fan of films I'm a literature lover. Give me a book and I'll devour it. So when I started seeing a lot of articles about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and hearing friends rave about the series I gave the books a shot. Even though I'm a few years older then the intended audience I loved the series. And I'm not the only one, I know people from ages ranging from ten to fifty who enjoy the books. Heck, even my sister, who hates reading read the series and loved them!

For those who haven't read the books, here is a quick rundown of the story. The Hunger Games centers around Katniss Everdeen in a dystopian future. A future where children aged twelve to eighteen can be sent to fight to the death in an arena (like gladiators in some ways). The games are televised to everyone in Panem (a country where the United States once was) until only one of the twenty four children is left. The victor is rewarded with glory and wealth. It is a very controlling, dangerous world that Katniss lives in. Yet, she manages to stay strong even when everything around her is falling to pieces.

So when I herd that The Hunger Games would be made into a movie I was elated. Finally, a film about a kick-ass female! Katniss is a fighter and she won't go down without making sure she's kicked a few asses. It's quite refreshing to see such a strong-willed female character after the last few years of Twilight craziness. She's strong, cares for her family and friends, is sometimes clueless with interpersonal relationships, funny at times, and has the determinism to survive. Plus, Katniss has flaws too. It always irks me when a fictional character is "perfect." So often characters in movies (and in books too) are perfect and it's a highly idealized view of what a person should be like. But no one is perfect, not even a fictional character.

Hollywood rarely seems to make a female-action type movie and even then they are often highly sexualized. Examples include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Charlie's Angels. And although at times Katniss is dressed up and shown off she is never asked to compromise herself. She dressed in a way which shows off her beauty rather then forcing her to be sexy. Much of this is because of her stylist, Cinna, who see's that Katniss isn't sexy, she cannot and should not be made into something completely unlike herself. Cinna just highlights Katniss's beauty even more. I remember when I read the books being so excited that Katniss wasn't trying to be someone she was not (she certainly wasn't a girly-girl). After all, she was too busy caring for her family back home in District 12 and trying to stay alive in The Games to care about such things. Some may argue that Katniss, at age sixteen, is a few years younger then Lara Croft or the girls of Charlie's Angels and thus she shouldn't be expected to dress in a sexy manner. Yet, time after time, women are four times more likely to be shown in sexy outfits compared to male characters in movies. So it's almost expected that teenage girls would be dressed in skimpy outfit.

Jennifer Lawrence has been cast as Katniss Everdeen, which I certainly think is a good choice. Just look at her turn as Ree in Winter's Bone. A very gritty, raw story but a role which Lawrence managed to capture it's essence. Recently during an interview with Vanity Fair, Lawerence said that when she was reading for the role she told Gary Ross, the director, "I understand if you don't hire me, but please remember that after Katniss shoots a bow and kills someone, her face cannot be badass." So clearly, Lawrence, understand's her character perfectly. And the rest of the cast of The Hunger Games is just as good. Actors Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and Donald Sutherland are also in the film.

While The Hunger Games hasn't been released in theaters yet (we have to wait until March 23, 2012) the film has give me a lot of hope. Seeing the buzz that the film is creating is fantastic. Not only amongst fans but articles in The Atlantic, Jezebel, and elsewhere makes it all too apparent that young adults (the stories intended audience) are not the only one's looking forward to the film's release. The story has given adults a lot to hope for. To hope that their daughters may be Katniss's rather then Bella's. To hope that this is the beginning of more female characters in films. To hope that women are given/written more roles that take them beyond a wife/daughter/mother and allow the portrayal of all sorts of different characters. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, and Jennifer Lawrence have given us a lot to hope for and only when the film is released will we be able to see if it was worth it!

And for those who haven't seen the wonderful trailer... check it out!
The Hunger Games Trailer

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