Today was the debut of the first song on the Mockingjay Part 1 companion album, “Yellow Flicker Beat.” Lorde had given some teases of the first few lines of the song, with marble princesses, scars of silver and gold, and blood made of rubies. This made some wonder if the song was about Johanna (the marble statue in the early Capitol video) or Effie with her ties to the Capitol. I was very much hoping that would not be the case. This is the first song, and presumably the first song that will play over the end credits. It needs to fit the tone of the whole movie, and needs to be about Katniss’s journey.
Well the good news is that the song is indeed inspired by Katniss’s experiences. Lorde is a big fan of the books, and in her interview with KROQ today explained how she tried to get into Katniss’s head with this song.
Basically I wrote the song specifically for the movie, it wasn’t something that I had to draft up previously. I reread the books, and I just wanted to tap into everything that Katniss is feeling in that film and what’s the crazy stuff that goes on. One of the things that happened in the book which to me felt like this crazy turning point was her best friend Peeta tries to kill her, he’s been brainwashed and tries to strangle her. It just felt like something so irreparable and something that the characters couldn’t turn back from. I felt like Katniss was like ‘okay, I’m taking names. I’m coming for blood. You don’t do these types of things to my friends and family and get away with it.’ I just wanted to make something kind of dark and haunting.
We all have different tastes in music. If you’re a fan of Lorde, you probably love “Yellow Flicker Beat” because it’s very much a Lorde song. Lorde’s voice and musical style worked for Catching Fire on the cover of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.” It was dark and powerful and fit well with the tone of the film. I wouldn’t have liked that song to be at the end credits, but it was a fine addition to the soundtrack.
I think the lyrics, especially at the beginning are very out of step with Katniss. She would never describe herself on these terms. That’s why people were confused about what this song was about with those initial teases. And the buzzing uhhhhhhh running in the background is a bit distracting, unless she’s trying to hint to us that Katniss is doing some kind of mediation while hiding away from the perils in her mind. Doubt it, though. I think it’s just Lorde trying to create some layers to the song and it not working well.
If you weren’t told this was about Katniss in Mockingjay, would you make the connection? Would it make any fan-made playlists? Sure, it’s got the obligatory reference to fire, and later lyrics of “this is the start of how it all ends/they used to shout my name now they whisper it” ring true , but the marble, silver, gold, rubies, red, orange yellow flicker beat language– that’s Lorde imagery. It’s Lorde being way more expressive than Katniss would ever be about her situation. The pop beat that takes over the song halfway through makes it catchy but also distracts you from the initial seriousness of the song. Who cares about problems? Now I feel like dancin’.
Soooo, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what happens in soundtracks “inspired by” the motion picture. Lorde doesn’t have to channel Katniss 100% to do right by the song. And a song more purely staying with Katniss’s experience might be a little boring. In the KROQ interview she acknowledges the challenge of writing for soundtracks.
You can’t take that many leaps, it becomes your song and not their song so it was definitely about keeping in that mindset and just thinking about ‘What would Katniss do?
I think Lorde genuinely tried to make this a song about Katniss, but it became more a song about Lorde, and the kind of music she likes to make. And that would still be an ok thing to have on the Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack. People like her songs and it would help album sales. But this song is supposed to be more than that. It’s the debut single from the soundtrack, and presumably will be the first song to play during the end credits. So after we’ve ended with whatever cliffhanger Francis Lawrence decided to go with, this song is going to play. That’s what makes me nervous. I want the song to make the end that much more powerful. Without seeing the whole film, we can’t completely know how well this song works, but I’m worried.
I worry a lot though, so I’ll just add it to the long list.
I’m a TV lover, I also love film, I can name a smattering of favorite films more quickly than I can tell you the square root of anything, and I’ll readily admit that when I graduated with my BA in English, that I was 16 credits shy of a film studies minor (16 credits is two terms of work). So when I say I love film, I’m being honest. Over the last several years however, TV has become a staple in the few hours of downtime that are mine throughout the week. I do go see the occasional film though, but it’s not a weekly occurrence, more in part to the fact that I’m a self-proclaimed film snob, and refuse to spend my money on crap, and there’s a lot of crap out there in those cinemas. So, yep– TV, and books are my go to sources of entertainment. Over the last three years, (that’s how long I’ve been a writer for Victor’s Village), several television series have come to the forefront, they’re popular, they’re critically well received, and more than one of them is based on previously known, and beloved book series. The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and just this past August Outlander has been added to the list. These series have strongly moved me, and without remorse I admit have changed my mind. I believe The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins would have made a phenomenal television series rather than a series of four feature films.
The Hunger Games on the surface is a different animal from book series like George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, or a graphic novel series like The Walking Dead. The main protagonist, Katniss, is a teenage girl for one thing, but she’s not your average teenager. This is one reason I think The Hunger Games would have worked on TV. Putting aside the ever present stigma of plucking a Young Adult novel off the shelves, and attempting to adapt it into something the masses would devour off a screen. It is a tough task, but it’s not impossible. if they had attempted to make it into a television series, they could have thrown the Young Adult label out the proverbial window, and built the world of Panem into the gritty, oppressive, vast, frightening, beautiful, and fascinating place that it became when we all read about it for the first time, instead of the glimpses, and sometimes mild impressions we’ve gotten so far from the film franchise. Television affords an almost no-holds-bard playground for producers, writers, and directors, and sadly films, especially if they’re supposedly geared to a particular demographic, is kept on a tight leash so to speak. This is where I admit that I do not think that Lionsgate has gone far enough where it comes to the plot, the subject matter, or the settings of The Hunger Games series. I know why as well, it’s because they’re boxed into time constraints, budgets, and the ratings requirements. The requirements that only allow one F word to be used in a PG-13 film, and only if the word is uttered not in reference to sex– yep, those requirements.
I’m a big fan of character development, I’m also a big fan of characters from books not being cut, or combined, or simply put– if The Hunger Games had been made into a television series the following questions never would have been asked by book fans: Where’s Madge? Why is that old lady giving Katniss the Mockingjay pin? Where’s Peeta’s dad? Doesn’t Gale have like 10 immediate family members, where the hell are they? Where’s Lady? Why did they change the time line, and make Peeta and Katniss teenagers when the Burnt Bread Scene happened, aren’t there like a million child actors who could have done that for them? So, is the old lady who gave her the pin in the movie Greasy Sae, does she have a name… what’s her name!? Doesn’t Peeta have brothers? Where’s the mayor of District 12, y’know Madge’s dad? Um, Delly Cartwright, has she been cut too? What happened to those beautiful, moving scenes between Katniss and Lavinia? What the hell happened to Lavinia? And Venia, so she’s gone, did she die, she died didn’t she? Why is Effie in District 13? And my question… Where the hell are the fluffy killer squirrels? That’s right folks, if The Hunger Games had been made into a television series, it’s safe to say that none of the questions above would have been asked, no new characters would have been invented, no previously known characters would have merged, been cut, or truncated. Nada. The only thing that could have happily happened to all of those plot points, and characters is this– they would have been expanded, realized, and appreciated– including, god forbid, Katniss and Prim’s parents.
And this is where I admit that if The Hunger Games had been made into a television series, it would not be sharing the same network as shows like Modern Family, Bones, or NCIS. The Hunger Games television series would be on a network that puts out programs like Game of Thrones, Shameless, Outlander, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, The Knick, The Walking Dead, Rectify, and Sons of Anarchy, it would be on cable. And it would be on cable TV,
because to properly depict the horror, and the shame of having children being forced to play a game of kill or be killed, or the sexual exploitation of revered champions, forced marriages, mental breakdowns of the very un pretty kind, torture, violence, destruction, war, and revolution– you’d need a network that says “yeah, film in three countries at once!” or “Yes, you can set up a camp specifically to train day players to play walking corpses!” Or, “yes, film in Scotland, BUY ALL THE PLAID IN THE WORLD, and yes… you can totally show us that guy getting whipped nearly to death. And don’t worry your pretty little head, full frontal nudity is very OK!” And if you think that those made up statements aren’t based in reality, I assure you they are– and the shows they’re based on are all still on TV, are popular amongst viewers and critics, and are adapted from novels, and graphic novels.
Just picture it now, an entire episode dedicated to the cave sequence, instead of a few short minutes?
Them There Eyes
The past day and a half has revealed more stills on the Hunger Games Instagram as promised. By now, you may have realized that these “stills” are really shots of the actors in costume which are being used to populate the cast and crew section of Mockingjay Part 1 on The Hunger Games Explorer. Watch daily as that cast list gets bigger! So don’t worry, if a favorite character has not been featured yet, he or she will be in the next few days.
First we got Castor. Like Cressida, wielding a camera we assume.
Then Pollux, with no camera, no gun that we can see, but an even more lovely accessory. He’s wearing a mockingjay pin! He’s one of us, guys, and we love him for it.
Today we got Boggs, looking a little scared or concerned or bewildered. Is he looking at Katniss? What is the context here? WE WANT TO KNOW.
These three “stills” reminded us that we really have no clue about how these actors are going to be playing the characters. There’s been so little footage released so far, that these characters are a mystery in terms of the movie. Will Boggs maintain an important role? We really hope so, but all we have to give us inkling is a quick shot of him and Katniss in the elevator and then again with Katniss walking by all those bombs in District 13 during the last trailer. Not much to go on.
We need the tv spots and clips and interviews to start soon. We need to see more of these guys!
If you’ve learned anything from The Hunger Games fandom over the course of these movies, it’s that interactivity is KEY in making fans happy. We like new features. We like having puzzles to solve. Thankfully, we got some of that today!
It started with an update of TheCapitol.PN, specifically the first weekly update from CapitolTV.
It hints at issues The Capitol is facing in the midst of rebellion, but tries to cover them up in silky-voiced fraudulence. It gets a little redundant with the word “system” in that first line, but overall it’s super exciting. Because you know what the real issue is? Of course you do! REBEL SCUM.
Speaking of which… The new Capitol website was met by an even bigger response from District 13! Search through their hacks and you’ll find new images, character files, and several censored Capitol Concerns (or so I’m told. Something about that site makes my computer go “Oh, FUCK YOU!”) Remember when fans were asked to fill those out as Panem citizens? Well if you participated, you’re now apparently responsible for a bunch of District 7 citizens getting marched to their death:
WAY TO GO, CONCERNED PANEM CITIZENS.
While we’re okay with the shortness of the D13 propo, but is their production value so low that they could manage any sound?! No ominous music, no Peacekeepers shouting orders in the distance, no static, NOTHING?! Really kills the intensity!
But by keeping things mysterious and short, Lionsgate is setting MOCKINGJAY PART 1 up for a viral video campaign. It’s something that the franchise has never done before, but it’s been extremely successful for other films and if the continuation is done well, it could be the desperately needed perk-up this campaign needs! So if nothing else, today we got some hope.
Except For The Part Where Our Complaints Led People To Slaughter,
The Girl With The Pearl
I’m just going to say it, Liam Hemsworth is giving us more Blue Steel, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I think we just have to accept that that’s his face, and until he’s old, like 80 something, and will likely be one of the handsomest old men we’ve ever seen– maybe then he’ll be able to pull his jowly face into some semblance of an expression that’s not his un patented Blue Steel– we’ll just have to deal. Boo hoo, such an unfortunate face to endure! Kidding, he’s hot– everyone with eyes can see it plain as day, and at this point in the game– we’re practically begging for promotional material. Therefore Liam’s expressionless face is a welcome reprieve!
Now it must be addressed, or re-addressed, but Natalie Dormer may prove to be the break out star of Mockingjay Part 1. Or, at least that’s what the posters, and the pictures we’ve been slowly getting are saying to us. Cressida didn’t have a massive part in the novel however, but once again liberties have likely been taken– and we’ll just have to deal, grudgingly or not. I’m not going to argue it to death, because I like Natalie Dormer, and I think Cressida is a character that deserves a little expansion. Plus, um– Natalie’s real purtty.
I think it’s been said before, probably here at Victor’s Village even, perhaps by yours truly–
but Caesar Flickerman reminds me of a My Little Pony. It’s the hair ya’ see? It’s got this pompadour thing going on, and then there’s
the tail bit, and obviously the ever-changing color of it that screams Pony to anyone with a memory for pop culture that goes back further than 1998. I’m not ragging on the choices that the hair and makeup heads came up with, because I think it’s a brilliant choice. Also, bear with me, I totally think that Caesar Flickerman could fit in the court of the Sun King, AKA Louis XIV. The brocade suits, the hair, the colors, the stance.
Maybe Caesar Flickerman is a time traveler?!
Them There Eyes
As we’ve mentioned before, the new issue of The Hunger Games Exclusive is practically exploding with fandom goodness, including stills and lengthy interviews with the stars. But among all that glorious, visually lovely magnificence, something happened. Something we weren’t quite as enthusiastic about.
No, we’re not talking about how Samsung Galaxy seems to present just about everything in this fandom nowadays. Or the level of Photoshop achieved here. It’s that damn movie tagline.
THE COURAGE OF ONE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.
Is that really the best we can do?
Yes, Katniss does have courage by the ton. And though she struggles, said struggles ultimately end in her defeating the Capitol and thus changing the world. But to suggest that she simply does it alone without extreme amounts of pressure and/or encouragement from people behind the scenes is just preposterous. Does she deserve credit? HELL TO THE YES. Her alone? NOPE. She is the symbol of the rebellion, a rallying figure and a catalyst for action, but she is not the whole damn rebellion.
But it’s not even that, really. It’s the actual phrasing of the slogan. Something about it just screams “CHEESY 80s ACTION FILM!” This tagline seems more suited to Chuck Norris or Arnold Schwarzenegger, running in slo-mo toward a helicopter in camouflage, than Katniss Everdeen. Or one of those inspirational films about the fight to change some unfair, old-fashioned political policies. Again, not The Hunger Games.
For those of you outside the US, this campaign was EVERYWHERE for a number of years and apparently did its job well with the branding, so much so that we think of it every time we hear something referring to the general power or strength “of one”.
Maybe we were spoiled by the first two films, which both had taglines that referenced back to the books and got us excited. “May the odds be ever in your favor.” “The world will be watching.” “Every revolution begins with a spark.” “Remember who the enemy is.” By comparison, this latest tagline feels like it was picked out of a general action movie slogan catalog.
But we only get one trailer, so I’m assuming there’s only one tagline. In the meantime, I’m putting the tagline with a movie that seems more suited for it:
The Girl With The Pearl
Today Lorde announced that her single from the Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack would be released next Monday, September 29. We can’t wait to hear the song and over-analyze the lyrics!
We got a three word clue with the title of the song, “Yellow Flicker Beat.” Okaaaay. Not much to go on. Beat of a heart? Beat of music? Beat up Peeta? All of them? Oh Lorde, are you being deep? Good, cause we’d like that.
Yellow flicker as in the start of a fire? Flicker of alarm lights? Why yellow and not orange? Is it because Peeta is not there to care (and is being beat up)?
Clearly this is not enough information for us to make any serious guesses.
We also got the cover art, which is very simple and understated. No frills, just like District 13 likes it.
While it is very simple, at least it’s not just re-using a movie poster like the Atlas art from Catching Fire. Or this incredibly bizarre Katniss pose from “We Remain” that I just had to bring back for old times sake.
ANYWAY, we’re excited to hear Lorde’s song, and all the songs she pulled together in curating the soundtrack because it’s new stuff. And we like new stuff.
We’ve got a good long couple of months to go until Mockingjay Part 1 is released in theatres across the world, so until the day comes when we can all sit back, and cry into our over sized soda cups, whilst sitting in a large dark room with a crowd of strangers– a select few will be privy to the joy of seeing Sam Claflin AKA Finnick Odair, and Natalie Dormer AKA Cressida in an entire other film together. The Riot Club (previously billed as Posh), is a film that Sam and Natalie filmed back in June of 2013, and it was released in its home country of England just this Friday. So far it’s gotten favorable reviews, and it is also holding strong on RottenTomatoes with a 78%, meaning it’s Fresh by their ratings, and thus not a waste of an afternoon at the cinema.
Let’s see, what should a lay person know about The Riot Club before they step up to the box office, plunk down their cold hard cash, and deem to spend a couple of hours with Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Max Irons, Douglas Booth, and Jessica Brown-Findley (yes, Lady Sybil Crawley is in it). Well, Riot Club is based on a play produced and put on in England in 2010, about a fictional dining club. The Riot Club based on the real life Bullingdon Club, the Riot Club is exclusive, and full up with rich, over privileged, white conservative British young men, all students at Oxford University. It’s the kind of story where you watch fictionalized representatives of future captains of industry, and country leaders, act bombastically, treat women badly, and wholly believe that because of their so-called pedigree they are immune to the consequences of the law and society. It’s young white guys with accents, in suits, fucking up, hurting people, thinking they’re going to get away with it, and in the end probably not. Oh, yeah, and one of those young men happens to be portrayed by Sam Claflin, oh– and Natalie’s playing a Lady of the Night.
Can you tell that I’m wavering on this film? I implore all to just… go rent History Boys, you’ll get less pissed off, and learn who James Corden is, AKA the guy taking over for Craig Ferguson on CBS. Or, if you like being eternally frustrated by the glorification of the upper classes acting like jackasses– g’head, go see Riot Club! Yes, I am judging a film purely on its premise, and its trailer, I cannot help it, there is no release date for the US yet, and therefore I’m a little miffed– I’m just being honest!
Maybe the soundtrack will be good? These Boys-Will-Be-Boys films tend to have good soundtracks.
Them There Eyes
During our Mockingjay Trailer Reaction Post, I was surprised that my fellow VV ladies thought that the Mockingjay Part 1 promotion might try to keep Peeta’s hijacking a secret. I had never imagined that they would actually try to pull it off, because look at that sentence before – I just spoiled the secret! It’s so hard to live spoiler-free and when we’re talking major book adaptations, it’s even more difficult.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t try. I’m intrigued by this now.
So in this scenario, what we continue to see is white-suited Capitol PR Peeta throughout the next two months. Any Peeta stills or new footage in tv clips are of this polished Peeta. This is certainly achievable, but this is the one thing that Lionsgate can control.
In interviews, they can control some of the things being asked but I can’t imagine they could keep the hijacked Peeta questions completely at bay. It’s too damn tempting. The media may hold off from overtly spoiling the surprise and instead ask softball questions like, “Peeta’s character goes to a very dark place in this movie. Did you find that challenging?” Still though, I think direct hijacking questions will happen. I think the hijacking will come up in movie reviews. So keeping Peeta’s storyline completely a secret to those non-book readers? I’m skeptical it will work unless you’re a very “unplugged” type of person who basically shows up to movies after seeing the trailer or tv spots and nothing else.
So why go to the trouble? Well, even though it’s hard for me to imagine that kind of lifestyle, there are a lot of unplugged type of moviegoers who just show up without much pre-knowledge. I work with lots of them and they were BLOWN THE EFF AWAY by the Catching Fire surprises.
And for the rest of us, even if we know what will happen, I imagine seeing tortured/hijacked Peeta for the first time in the movie itself (with no stills, no video tease to prepare you, nothing) would be all the more jarring. The NFL learned in the past few weeks that the public responds differently to knowing about something terrible versus actually seeing it happen. Image and sound add an extra element of powerful realness to horrible things.
If hijacked Peeta is kept officially under wraps until showtime, then we also wonder if they’re ending it at the strangling scene. Again, I’ve always thought no way. It’s too traumatizing to be left for a year on that, right? I figured they would end it with her going to District 2, or in District 2. Would they actually dare to end this movie with Peeta strangling Katniss? WOULD THEY REALLY DO THIS? Well,they weren’t afraid to end Catching Fire on “there is no District 12,” so they aren’t afraid of big cliffhangers.
I’m scared and excited and don’t know what else I’m feeling but it’s a lot of things.
In case you missed it, with “The Mockingjay Lives” trailer also came a new edition of Hunger Games Exclusive featuring interviews with Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Natalie Dormer, quick bios of Boggs, Pollux, Castor, and Messalla, and a boatload of new stills.
And oh, there’s messages behind messages about the movies in those stills!
1) Gale and Cressida either hate each other or totally get each other
There are a couple pictures of Gale and Cressida together that make us wonder about how other character relationships will be expanded in the TWO parts of Mockingjay (because hell, that’s definitely room to expand things!) Yes, they’re facing away from each other which suggests that this isn’t a romantic twist– THANK GOODNESS– but there’s some sort of deal going on between these two. On one hand, neither looks particularly happy and they won’t look at each other. On the other, they have each others’ back and it seems like these two share a similar ideology that might have them teaming up quite a bit.
Are we just talking nonsense? We’ll find out in two months!
2) Jen’s wig is pretty solid.. except for when there’s running.
Witness ZEE WIG.
Not bad, right? Flowy, realistic frizz, and a hair line that doesn’t make you facepalm. It’s not very noticeable at all!
Now.. a second glance:
IT JUST GOT SO MUCH MORE NOTICEABLE.
Stills of action scenes are very rarely kind to the characters involved. This just proves it. We probably won’t notice it so much with actual, rolling footage, but this shot is a definite reminder that our homegirl got wigged up for these movies.
3) There’s always that one guy.
Extras. Very rarely does one really catch your eye because they’re out of place, but it happens.
Take the District 8 shot. Almost everyone looks tense, resilient, perhaps even a bit frightened and then… Wait. Is that one guy smirking at her?
It may not be enough to draw most people’s attention, but something about this guy’s look here says “Dude! They put me right next to her! I’m totally going to be in the movie.”
4) Everyone posed in those D13 uniforms (also, see #1)
Military or not, we’re guessing everyone had a photo-op in District 13’s gray fatigues, just to reassure us that all the characters hate them and even the pretty ones look a bit drab. Alas, more reassurance that District 13 is a fashionista’s worst nightmare.
5) Someone put a tiny braid in Natalie Dormer’s hair EVERY. DAY.
And yet we can barely manage to braid our own hair without it looks like a rat’s nest. Kudos to Mockingjay’s official braider (we assume that’s their title) and their tiny little hands!