I WAS going to write up a post about my thoughts and feeling on the movie. While I watched the film, completely engrossed in the cinematic interpretation of one of my favorite series from this past year, it became jarringly apparent to myself that I wasn't going to be writing a review of the movie. What distracted me and disturbed me wasn't the sick spectacle of children killing each other in an annual reminder of why a nation remains oppressed, or the garish delight that the Capitol derived from it (the movie treats the former with respect and reality that you can't help but feel for the tributes - even the career ones - and treats the latter as completely detestable, as it should). No, what really rankled me was the reaction of the younger, teenaged audience to the stark violence and death on screen: they were cheering.
THEY. WERE. CHEERING.
There are so many things wrong with this. It makes me want to punch a wall and give up. Actually, I think I have an animated gif that sums up my reaction to the audience perfectly:
Okay, so Quentin Tarantino. Let's talk about him for a moment. Why? Because he did what Hunger Games
did and it was beautiful, even though it was lost on a majority of his audience. Inglorious Basterds
. Fantastic movie - one of his best. Not a good war film, but if you look it as, "How Quentin Tarantino would have won WWII" then it's fabulous. What makes it more fabulous is how Tarantino takes a moment to equate his audience to the Nazis in the film - no, not the ones that Brad Pitt and Co. are killing, but the other ones, the ones in the movie theater watching and reveling in the senseless violence of the propaganda film. Tarantino knows his audience; he knows that people see his movies for the witty meta and the ramped up violence. In Inglorious Basterds
, he combines the two to prop up a mirror so that the audience finds them staring at themselves with more than mild discomfort. It's beautiful. Hunger Games
does very much the same thing. You're either: repelled and saddened by the senseless loss of young life in the brutal jaws of an evil police state; or you're giddy and entertained by the slaughter. The giddy reaction and mindless celebration of the Capitol mirrors our own entertainment at the ultra-violence that our media peddles and that we gobble up because our own tolerance is corroded from exposure. Perfect example: the young audience members cheering with each death. ( spoilers )
It was really hard to watch the film with the audience cheering at each death of characters they didn't like. It's like that part of the book - the tragedy of each tribute's existence - was completely lost on them. They became like the citizens of the Capitol or Tarantino's audience, reveling in the body count. Hunger Games
expects its audience to realize the injustice of the Games and to be mad at each death - even the ones that saved the lives of our protagonists - but this was completely lost on the young audience at the showing I attended.
Maybe it's a sign of my age. Maybe I'm taking this too seriously. Maybe I'm making a mountain out of an anthill.
That said, I actually enjoyed the movie. While it wasn't a perfect adaptation, I realize that hardly any movie adaptation ever is and inevitably there are things that need to be trimmed out to tailor a movie that interests both fans and newbies. I adored the starkness and the uncomfortably close proximity of the camera, especially in scenes at District 12. The acting was great - though Jennifer Lawrence wouldn't have been a personal first choice for Katniss (the problem is I don't know who I would have cast in her place). Having read the books, I can't really say much about how the plot would have flowed for somebody who hasn't read the first one; everything made sense to me (except for the continuity error where ( spoilers )
. I'm definitely going to see it again with everysecondtuesday
, so I'll probably have more to say about it the second time around. As far as first impressions go, it made one on me.