I’d promise not to have any spoilers, but probably 95% of you have read The Hunger Games already.
If you haven’t, please don’t read any more.
And if you do, don’t blame me. I told you so.
Let me begin with this morning at school.
I was one of just a handful of people who went to see the midnight show of The Hunger Games last night. (Three students went to a different theater than I did – they were all in school today, too. Have to say I’m impressed with that!) With that in mind, I wasn’t surprised to hear everyone asking what I thought – from teachers to my students to students I don’t even know.
Here’s some of what I shared in various conversations over the course of the day:
I can’t remember ever seeing a movie that had my heart pounding for most of it.
I don’t ever remember shaking like I did during the Games footage for any other movie.
I think I cried longer when I saw Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but I cried harder when Rue died.
I don’t think I would want to see it on an IMAX screen – the jumpy footage was enough from the third row seat I had, but I suspect it would make me sick on a bigger screen.
I didn’t think I would appreciate the jumpy footage (something my husband warned me about – and he only knew because I think he read every review published yesterday), but I think it made sense for this film. The violence of the Games is there – it’s not glorified, it’s not gratuitous, and it’s not clear footage, meaning that it has much in common with the book. Our imaginations probably make it ten thousand times worse. It reminded me of what wasn’t shown in the old Hitchcock films being far scarier than trying to come up with witty special effects.
There were not so many costumed souls as there were for the Harry Potter midnight shows, but the audience was just as engrossed as they were at Harry Potter shows. When the words appeared on the screen opening the movie with some backstory, the whole audience clapped. I have been to movies where the audience is filled with chatterers, but we were all so riveted that the full theater was silent save for gasps, giggles (Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch were perfect for their parts – and added some much needed comic relief at points), cheers, and cries. (I was definitely not the only one who was bawling at Rue’s death scene.)
There are changes. I will be honest there, but they make sense for the film. As it is, the movie is 2 hours and 22 minutes. I suspect that many of the changes were made to keep the movie to a reasonable length. For instance, there isn’t a lot of development of the relationship between Gale and Katniss at the beginning of the movie – but they compensate during the kiss scenes during the Games by flipping back to Gale’s reaction when he sees it on the telecast. Speaking of the time where Katniss and Peeta are together during the Games, it’s shorter – but I don’t think anything is really lost. The training seemed shorter, but the most important bits are there.
What I was most intrigued by was the addition of scenes that were not in the book. Seeing the behind the scenes conversations between Seneca and President Snow, seeing the control room for the Games and seeing how Seneca directs what happens and why, and the conversations and reactions Haymitch has during the Games added a whole different view of the whole thing. Seeing the citizens of District 11 and District 12 watching the footage was unsettling – and it also gives us a chance to see what effect Katniss is having on the people there as it happens. Seeing that just makes the scenes where we see the Capitol dwellers enjoying the Games that much more unsettling.
I’m still surprised at how much of the movie looked like how I’d imagined it. From casting to props to Capitol Couture and the settings. Peeta and Katniss, Haymitch and Effie, Rue and Cato, Snow and
The only thing that really didn’t look the way I had imagined it was after the jacker trackers attacked Glimmer. Thankfully she didn’t look like the oozing, bloated, horrible corpse that she did in the novel. And nothing disintegrated when Katniss took the bow and arrows from her. I’m grateful. So is the guy in front of me who didn’t get puked on.
All in all, my heart was still pounding the whole 45 minute drive home and I had trouble falling asleep when I did crawl into bed at 3:30 this morning. (For the record, I not only powered through my day on 2.5 hours of sleep, but I managed to do some serious damage on my to-do list. If I wasn’t trying to do this post before I ran out of enough mental steam, I would be cleaning my house and grading…) No nightmares, but I couldn’t wind down from the whole experience.
I remember feeling that way after I finished the book in the wee hours of the morning.
There’s something about good story-telling, no matter the medium, that does that to you.
If you went, I’m curious to hear what you thought of it.
And if you are about to post a complaint about ruining it for everyone else, before you do, just remember you were warned…