We’ve got BONUS guest posts for you this week! Check out another Mockingjay musing from Satsuma, who sees plenty of opportunity of historical parallels in the final two films!
Here I am, trying to make more predictions about the MJ movies. My last post dealt with their possible approach to romance. This one focuses more on the politics. Specifically, whether the movies will continue to make references to historical political events that have parallels to what happens in Panem.I say “continue to”, because both THG and CF seemed to make a directed effort to make viewers consider the parallels, in many subtle ways. Maybe it’s just me, but the “Capitol = Rome” set-up SC created seems to have actually taken a back seat, with more modern examples of tyranny and oppression being focused on more. We have the Capitol set design from THG, inspired by “brutalist” architecture used by the Nazi’s, as well as Tianamen Square; and the use of Henry River Mill village, a real life “company town” (though for a different industry than coal) for the Seam.
And while this isn’t expressly political, I was also quite struck by the Capitol equivalent of a sports book that was showcased in that movie, especially as we see gambling in all forms becoming more and more socially acceptable these days in the US, and states trying to get a cut of the action; not just the state lotteries, but, for example, how Governor Christie of New Jersey recently attempted to legalize sports gambling in his state). And while FYI I admit I never “got” the whole allure of gambling, certainly one can argue that it’s yet another way that the “powers that be” can distract citizens from more serious issues.
In CF, the D11 design actually tweaked aspects of canon, such as showing workers picking cotton instead of fruit as they did in the book, to drive the “D11 = Deep South”, not just geographically but culturally as well, to the extent of giving the Peacekeepers attack dogs that I bet Bull Connor would have loved to own. (Brief history lesson: Connor was a notorious segregationist “Commissioner of Public Safety” in Birmingham, AL, who cracked down harshly on civil rights protestors in the 1960s. I’ve even wondered if Connor’s deceptively benign job title, helped inspire the “Peacekeeper” moniker.)
And not only did CF harken back to the 1960′s, it also showed “rebellion” footage that seemed straight out of the Arab Spring. I’m sure that was no co-incidence.Especially knowing that Danny Strong wrote the first scripts, I’m sure that MJ will continue to showcase these historical and political parallels. (Note that, as has been mentioned on this blog before, “Game Change” actually has a lot of similarities to MJ even though Sarah Palin is VERY different from Katniss in many ways, both feature a female character “campaigning” for a cause and frequently “going rogue” and disregarding the scripts their handlers want them to follow.)
Note that the MJ marketing again touched on the idea of “Panem field hands = African Americans”, considering the race of the woman chosen to represent the Grain district (even though she likely hailed from the Midwest, not as strongly associated with the African American civil rights struggle as the Deep South, though certainly the North had/has its own issues with racism as well.)
Unfortunately, it’s likely too late for the MJ movies to draw the obvious parallels between the MJ rebellion and what’s happening at the Ukraine-Russia border these days, right down to innocent civilians being caught in the cross-fire, with each side pointing the finger at the other as the culprit for a wartime atrocity. Much as in MJ, I wonder if we’ll ever find out the REAL story about who shot down that airliner. (On the other hand, there’s still almost two years worth of marketing to go…)
But we know that the Iraq war helped to inspire SC to write this story, as did her father’s experiences as a soldier in Vietnam. I can certainly see, for example, a shot of rebels dragging down a statue of Snow, much as Saddam Hussein’s statue bit the dust. Or perhaps we’ll see a shot of Snow being dragged out of a bunker somewhere. And while Julianne Moore’s description of D13 seems more consistent with “Jericho” and other post-apocalyptic societies than the historical Soviet Union, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some reference to the idea of “Capitol = US, D13 = USSR”; perhaps a nod to classic Cold War era movies such as “Dr. Strangelove” (which itself based the not-so-good Doctor partly on Werner von Brown, who managed to jump from serving the Nazis in WWII to directing NASA in the 1960s; hmm, that sounds almost like what Plutarch did, actually).
Finally, the reason I titled this post “Applicability”, is that the current events in Crimea really did impress me with how applicable this series is to the Ukraine/Russia conflict, even though SC wrote the books years before this conflict flared up. In both, we have rebels who want to break away from one problematic regime, yet are backed by another regime that has many problematic aspects as well. This is one reason I think this series may remain relevant for a while, even after the last MJ movie.
Caesar’s Scrunchy is back once again with EVEN MOAR visual beauty! Today, she’s talking about how Catching Fire portrayed the way Cinna left his mark on more than just The Mockingjay!
I decided to fill the time waiting for “Mockingjay” by watching “Catching Fire” again, and noticed that Effie Trinkett was wearing a necklace (in Katniss’ wedding dress/Mockingjay dress scene) that looked like arrowheads. Then I noticed Katniss’ earrings when her dress transforms become arrowheads too, and then… there were arrowheads (triangles) ALL OVER the movie!
And they were worn only by Katniss’ allies, whether she knew they were her allies or not.
Then I decided that because, as Effie says, Cinna is the most influential designer in the Capitol, it makes sense that he would put these arrowheads subliminally in his designs, and that others would copy him.
Check it out – these pages show Cinna’s influence, with tons of arrowheads (triangles) throughout. I found these images from basic Google web searches (I don’t own any of the photos or anything else– it all belongs to Lionsgate and Suzanne Collins, ok?)
VICTORY TOUR COSTUMING
PRESIDENT SNOW AND HIS FOLLOWERS
But trust me: it’s tons of fun watching “Catching Fire” again, and seeing if you can find who else wears the arrowheads…and who doesn’t!
Today we have a great guest post by Satsuma on a topic that brings out a lot of passion in the fandom.
Okay, first things first. I confess that it wasn’t just the (rather scanty) Mockingjay news so far that brought this question to my mind.
No, I must credit the inspiration for this topic, of how much romance is appropriate for a sci-fi, action-packed “young adult” tale to, of all things, LEGOs — the LEGO ninjas who star in the Cartoon Network show, “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu”. Think LEGO Star Wars mixed with kung-fu. For a series of 22-minute LEGO commercials, the show can be surprisingly deep; there is one Big Bad Palpatine/Sauron-like villain, but other antagonists are quite humanized, including Darth -er, Lord Garmadon, or the snake-like Serpentine clans, who actually have legitimate reasons to be angry at mankind.
The show is targeted mostly at young boys, and the 4 ninjas (Kai, Jay, Zane, and Cole) are all male, as is the Chosen One, Lloyd. But there is one significant female character; Nya, Kai’s sister. Nya is a mecha wiz who dresses up in a robo-Samurai-suit to fight evil, and often bests the boys at their game.
Seasons 1 and 2 of the show had a touch of innocent romance between Nya and Jay, but this was far from the focus. But suddenly, in season 3, Nya wound up in a love triangle between Jay and fellow ninja Cole. A love interest appeared for Zane as well, and it even turned out that Lord Garmadon and his brother, Sensei Wu, had both wooed Padm – er, Misako in the past.
Well, the fan reaction to all this romance, was, essentially, “ewwww”! Not just from the young boys, but the tween girls who were the likely target of it. Many female fans of the show were annoyed that Nya was turned into yet another Bella-like ingenue torn between two suitors, as opposed to a heroine in her own right who just happened to be dating another ensemble character.
And so this brings me to Mockingjay, and the debates over how much romance will, and should, be in the films. It seems the fan consensus for THG was that one of the film’s major flaws was how the K/P ship was not only downplayed, but done so in a way that shorted Peeta as a character. For the CF movie, I was mostly satisfied both with the “balance” between K/P and K/G and the overall amount of romance , but I certainly recall some Everlarkers griping “no plant book scene”, “no rooftop scene”, or “that beach kiss was NOT passionate enough” (I actually agree with the last one; it was cute, but not one that made me think Katniss was having sexy feelings down below, the way the book scene certainly did.)
What will we see in the MJ films, though? Certainly, two films give the film-makers extra time for romance, but that doesn’t mean all the book scenes will make it in. Some of the extra time will be given to added scenes, such as battles, or exposition scenes between Snow and his new adviser, Antonius, and we’ll likely get a peek at Coin’s machinations as well. So in keeping with the general trends, I forecast some romantic scenes being edited, cut down, or merged with others.
Again, the “balance” between K/P and K/G will be crucial, especially given Peeta’s absence in most of Part 1, and the difficulty even SC herself had with sinking K/G not only as a romance, but as a friendship as well (I refer, again, to the many “post-MJ” fanfics that feature a K/G reconciliation at least as friends.)
What I think fans also should keep in mind, is that the MJ book itself was a much less “romantic” a book than certainly CF, or even THG. To me, even before Peeta reappeared, MJ made it obvious that the only potential K/G had, even without the clashes in values, was a “lifeboat camaraderie” type friendship with some “hurt/comfort” thrown in. (And to be fair, K/P has these aspects as well, but goes beyond it in a way K/G didn’t.) Note that SC herself had to be nudged by her editor into writing “more of the Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle”. (Source)
Now, this little tidbit makes me highly suspect that the very Twilight-ish “who will she choose” scene between Peeta and Gale in Tigris’s shop was added on by SC in response to her editor’s suggestions. Considering how the films so far have tended to cut out the “cheesier” romantic scenes and lines, I think that if we do see the scene, it will be quite cut down, though Gale’s “she’ll choose who she can’t survive without” comment may be left in. And it certainly may, as Katniss’s later musings about “what I need to survive” show much about the characters of all Love Triangle Trio members. Also, in the books, Katniss only reflects on this comment internally. Certainly, book!Katniss actually verbalizing her complicated feelings to Peeta (or to Gale) would have been quite OOC. But movie!Katniss is not quite as introverted (a change I certainly prefer to cheesy voice-overs), and it will be interesting to see how the movie converts her thoughts to actual dialogue. In this way, I can see the MJ movies having a more “romantic” component than the books.
My own take on the series is that, romance is certainly a large component of it; certainly more than the Y-7 rated Ninjago. Not only do we have the central love triangle, we also have Mr. M, Mrs. E and Mr. E, Annie and Finnick, and so on. I certainly don’t agree with the extreme anti-romance “Katniss was incapable of loving anyone but Prim, she just chose Peeta because she was stuck with him and did what she could to survive” theory. But in the end, it is NOT a romance in terms of the genre. So I’m not personally going to wait with baited breath for each book kiss to appear on the scene.
I think SC meant for the romance to take a back seat in MJ, and only be established towards the end, in the context of not only two hot bodies going at it, but a long-lasting relationship that produces children, to provide a ray of hope at the end. I also hope the films convey the idea that the “choice” between Peeta and Gale wasn’t just a choice between two men (unlike Nya’s choice, as her suitors are both “good guys” who pretty much look the same except for wig and costume) but one between two different ways of life. Can movie!Katniss become one of the few pop culture heroines who isn’t JUST a “romantic” or “action” heroine, but transcends both?
One can only hope.
Our latest guest post comes from the hilariously tag-named Caesar’s Scrunchy, who has a few awesome points about the relationship between Katniss and Peeta (with visuals!)
You know you’re desperate for more “Mockingjay” action when you’re willing to do a school writing assignment in the summertime, which wasn’t assigned and will never be graded! But we’ve got to do something to pass the time waiting for the next propo, right?
So I’ve done a “compare and contrast” assignment just like in school, where we take two different things – two poems, two books, two films, etc. – and see what is different and what is similar about them. These assignments aren’t always fun, but when we do them, we can learn a lot more about each one by looking more closely at them. And it can be especially fun if you compare “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire” movies (because what else are we going to do
besides watch these two fave movies, amiright?!) The books have these parallels as well, but that REALLY feels like a school assignment, and doing it this way, I got to watch the movies again as “research.”
In some cases, the exact opposite from what happened in HG happened in CF (I noted those with the arrows). I used to think the first two books were a bit similar, but the more I worked on this, I appreciated how hard the filmmakers worked to give us an amazing number of little details that created great symmetry between the two movies. Or, to quote Haymitch, “Genius!” When you look at the comparisons, I hope you agree.
If you like this, feel free to watch the movies again (as if anyone needs an invitation?) and see if you can find more contrasts and comparisons. I wonder what would happen if we added Gale to the mix? Or compared Seneca Crane vs. Plutarch? Or HG Buttercup vs. CF Buttercup? J
PS – I own none of the images here, they are just for illustration purposes to show each point. AND: this is the first thing I’ve ever written for VictorsVillage.com, and I hope you like it.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST: THE HUNGER GAMES AND CATCHING FIRE
THE BALANCE BETWEEN THEM
It’s time for the first entry in our latest series of guest posts! Kait is in full-on wedding mode so you’ll be hearing from special guest writer over the course of the next few weeks. Remember, you can submit a guest post to email@example.com anytime!
Our first entry comes from Justin, who thinks District 12 seems awfully familiar. Enjoy!
Hello! I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the curious parallels between the place where I am from and District 12. As the books state, Katniss hails from the region today known as Appalachia in the Eastern United States. I, however, am from the Forest of Dean District. It makes up the western portion of the county of Gloucestershire in south-west England. (Everdeen/evergreen/Dean? Get it?) Up until the mid 20th Century the area’s main local industries were coal and iron ore mining.
One of the two main towns of the district is called Cinderford (pop: 8,116) which is right on the edge of the forest itself. You can walk straight out of it into the woods just as Katniss does when she goes hunting. And, of course, District 12 gets reduced to cinders. The other town is called Coleford, but ‘cole’ is derived from the Latin for ‘cabbage’, apparently. I guess The Capitol didn’t care enough about the Districts to recognize proper names for their individual settlements.
I have saved the best for last. For hundreds of years in the Forest of Dean there has been a tradition known as Freemining whereby private individuals can claim a parcel of land to mine for themselves. These personal plots are known as ‘gales‘. No, really.
This is an extract from the Dean Forest (Mines) Act 1838:
“All male persons born or hereafter to be born and abiding within the said Hundred of St Briavels, of the age of twenty one years and upwards, who shall have worked a year and a day in a coal or iron mine within the said Hundred of St Briavels, shall be deemed and taken to be Free Miners.”
(There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on whether it is ‘Freeminers’ or ‘Free Miners’.)
I think there are some more links between the HG character of Gale and the FoD Freeminers:
“Amongst other places, Free Miners were frequently requested to fight in France and fought throughout the Hundred Years War, most famously at the famous battles at Crecy (1346) and Agincourt (1415). Miners became used to being an essential part of the King’s armoury, Dean miners were sometimes called ‘The King’s Miners’ and ‘King’s Pyoneers’, known generally as ‘Sappers’ they undermined fortifications, created earthworks, trenches, building timber structures, installing stakes etc. As well as their renowned mining skills, the miners were also excellent archers and ferocious in hand to hand combat; they were hard men, used to operating in harsh conditions. By law from 1363 all English males from 7 – 60 years old were required to practise archery for at least two hours on Sundays and festival days…” Source.
In Mockingjay, Gale Hawthorne, the miner who wanted to be free, has a big hand in undermining the fortification known as the Nut. (Although, the Free Miners were, themselves, very much part of the establishment.)
So, if any of you out there gets an opportunity to talk with Suzanne Collins, do please ask her if there actually are any connections between The Hunger Games and the Forest of Dean.
We reviewed The Murder Complex on Tuesday, a book which features a rough n’ tough heroine, Meadow. Why is Meadow is so gritty, you ask? Because she was raised and nurtured through her rough dystopian world by a hunting, scavenging survivalist dad. She’s a little less emotional and a little more tactical than Katniss, but maybe that one difference in upbringing is ALL the difference.
Katniss’ dad is also the survivalist type. He doesn’t seem as ruthless as Meadow’s dad, but he taught Katniss quite a few tricks of the trade by a young age: hunting, skinning, and cooking animals, for one. She’s also got some better-than-average physical skills, some of which saved her in the arena later on, and she knows her way around a bow and arrow. Even though it was not her father’s intention to have Katniss kill people, her weapons training gave her the ability to do so. He also planted the first seeds of rebellion in her mind with his lessons in morality and old folk songs that went directly against the regime under which they lived.
Katniss absorbed all this and it transformed her life in major ways, all before he died when she was 11. Which makes us wonder: In a world where Mr. Everdeen had lived, would we be seeing a much less reluctant, much more rough n tough Katniss?
We’re not saying she’d be a super soldier or anything, because nothing in the story indicates that her father wanted her to be one. But it seems Mr. Everdeen had a lot of political ideals and perhaps special training (because how did HE know how to do all the things he taught Katniss?) that he didn’t pass down quite yet because her daughters were still young. Children mature exponentially between the ages of 11 and 16, so it’s likely Mr. Everdeen would have more obviously worked to instill any ideas about the issues in Panem’s government and perhaps even revolution once he felt Katniss was old enough to really confide in.
To dig into this even more, what if the roles were reversed and Mr. Everdeen was the single parent after some horrible twist of fate claimed the life of his wife? The flashback in which Mrs. Everdeen nearly has a heart attack after she hears the girls singing ‘The Hanging Tree’ shows that she played an integral role keeping the childrens’ exposure to anti-Panem messaging low. Without that filter, would Katniss have a more vocal, less reluctant opinion about overthrowing the government? Would she have the same zeal as Gale? It seemed Katniss’ father was a subtle, quiet type, but we only see him through the memories of an unreliable narrator: A teenage girl who thinks back on her deceased father as an almost faultless being.
It’s funny how a detail or two can change a whole story. We have no proof, of course, but if some of the most formative years of Katniss Everdeen’s life were left in the hands of her father instead of her mother, our Mockingjay would be completely different!
Oh Hai, Father’s Day Is Right Around The Corner!
The Girl With The Pearl
I saw a great movie this weekend with an awesome leading female character. Going off of my demographics and this weekend’s box office, you’d think it was The Fault in our Stars, wouldn’t you? And, yes, that’s a great movie with great characters too, but I was talking about Rita Vrataski in Edge of Tomorrow. She’s played by Emily Blunt, and all throughtout the movie I kept having serious Mockingjay-Part-2-Katniss feelings about her.
It’s got big bad aliens that must be defeated with big weapons and explosions, so it definitely has the elements of the “typical” summer movie with a time travel twist. But it changes things up by having Tom Cruise’s character be a weak, cowardly jerk, not a hero (at least at the start). No, the battle-tested hero, the symbol of the resistance, is Rita. Look at this.
She ends up training cowardly jerk Tom and it’s hilarious and very satisfying for both fans and non-fans of the man. But she’s not just some hardened soldier. Without spoiling anything, the woman has been through some serious shit, and in the rare moments that she opens herself up I found myself having Mockingjay Katniss feelings again.
And also military atmosphere of the movie made me think Mockingjay too. Mockingjay with aliens. Ok, maybe this is a stretch but are we sensing a theme? Basically everything reminds me of Mockingjay now. Everything!
Hey, it was a fun movie and gave me a little Mockingjay fix, and for that I’m grateful.
We’ve pointed out a lot of incidents of “life imitating art” over the years. Cases in which things remained us of something for The Hunger Games universe. But now, The Hunger Games has become a legitimate part of a political movement.
On May 22, a coup upheaved the government in Thailand, with the Thai army replacing the democratically elected leadership. While the coup was not the gory, violent kind, it still wasn’t welcomed by much of the nation, particularly among younger generations. Yup, the same generations that have taken the political messages of books like The Hunger Games under their wing.
As a sign of their discontent, some protestors began to hold up District 12′s three finger salute. Though symbol was derived from fiction, the Thai army caught on to the fact that the three-finger salute was essentially the people’s veiled one finger salute. They banned it from being used by five people or more in the same space because that would be considered a group protest. Any group using the symbol will be arrested. Of course, this only made the gesture spread around the nation like wildfire through the entire population.
Protest leaders have encouraged everyone to throw up the threefinger salute at least three times in a public place daily. The Internet is flooded with photos of small groups of hidden faces holding up the symbol. The protestors have labeled the three fingers in a new graphic:
1. No Coup
While it’s not exactly what the sign means in the books, it all boils down to the same thing: A sign of respect of things that have been lost. In this case, the government of the people. It’s actually quite beautiful to see a popular fiction reference being used to bring people together in a peaceful protest (though hopefully it stays that way). Now it’s more than an idea from a book series. It’s history.
Now Let’s See If It’s Used In Mockingjay…
The Girl With The Pearl