Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hunger Games - live!

Or, you know, as live as it gets, sitting in a Gold Class theatre with my favourite blanket, sipping a soy flat white and wringing my hands in anxiety. But still, for a good two hours, I was there - in the world of Katniss Everdeen and the Hunger Games.

I've waxed lyrical about the series before. I'm happy to say I have no reason to redact my opinions now. The movie was handled with aplomb, respect, and a wonderful use of subtext. So wonderful that I wonder if many of the audience members - who, apparently, had not read the books - would understand the entirety of what was going on.

Since I'm unabashedly a fan, however, that didn't concern me. What I did find is that, for a film that I've been waiting to see for almost a year - strenuously avoiding any behind-the-scenes or interviews or trailers, which turned out to be a wise move - the thing that concerned me the most was how much I just didn't want to watch it. When I got into the cinema and I sat down, apprehension overwhelmed me. When Katniss is singing her sister to sleep, just two minutes in, I was already crying. You see, I know how it ends, just like everyone else. Maybe not this movie or even the second, but the third. I know. And the creators went out of their way to let me know that they knew, too.

When I spoke about the Hunger Games previously, I doubtless mentioned how heart-breaking it is. How every aspect of the story is designed to feel like the ripping away of a firmly held belief or dear friend. The movie was no less of an emotional grinder though, as I said, it pales in comparison to the events in Mockingjay. There were certain sacrifices made in characterisation to allow for a cleaner story, none of which were overly destructive. I do however, look forward to the deleted scenes in order to discover what they chose to leave out, because I imagine most of what was removed will cater to the fans' interests.

It's not often I see something with which I am so thoroughly enchanted that it's difficult to find fault. The Walking Dead is another example of storytelling that I find particularly poignant. After I got over my nerd-rage, I thoroughly enjoyed Game of Thrones and I can't wait until Season 2 begins in April. Now, I'm hoping the TV show will make sense where the books so clearly don't (cue the flame comments - I'll rebut anything you can throw at me with an example of why the storytelling went downhill after book 2).

The point of the matter is, for a hardened cynic like me, it's becoming a little bit of a disappointment for all these wonderful stories to exist. I'm running out of things to complain about - or perhaps I'm just not spending as much time watching things that annoy me. Still, while I'm sure there must have been good book adaptations Back In The Day, the increasing number of print-to-screen revelations that have enhanced, rather than destroyed, the original source material is looking promising. Maybe producers are finally starting to get it, or maybe it's just that authors are starting to make enough money that they can take an active hand in their own creative endeavours.

I don't know what Suzanne Collins did to get so good at storytelling, but I'll take five of whatever she's selling. Perhaps it's those years writing for children's TV shows that makes her books so punchy, but I'd say that other writers can learn a lot from her example. I just hope I can, without dissecting the books so much that they lose their ability to affect me. And, as an added bonus, I have another two movies to look forward to. This must be my lucky day.

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