We’re enjoying going though all the special features in the Mockingjay Part 2 home media releases. One of our favorite features is always the audio commentary with Francis Lawrence and Nina Jacobson. Let’s go through some of the bits that stood out.
The Last Time
Right at the start there is a super cute moment where Francis mentions this is the last time they get to do an audio commentary… on these movies. This isn’t news – we know they’re planning on adapting The Odyssey together – but that quibble was fun to hear them acknowledge.
These movies start and end with Katniss (well, Francis’s movies)
Francis mentions how he deliberately structured the films this way.
The Nut’s destruction, not close up but through Katniss’s eyes
In a refreshing difference from the popular superhero movies of the day, they decided not to show the spectacle of the Nut’s destruction, but focus on how Katniss experiences it. (Bonus, it also saves them a bunch of cash).
No crying until the end
During the District 2 scene, a tear fell from Jen’s eye due to cold which was digitally removed. Suzanne and Francis felt Katniss should not cry in this movie until the end because she’s so numb from everything she’s experienced.
Francis’s assistant/MJ2’s associate producer was working double time
He’s the one who shoots Katniss in District 2.
Jena had a scalp double
Francis didn’t have the heart to ask Jena to have her head shaved for a year (for 10 days total of shooting) but he thinks bald caps look fake. The solution – he hired scalp doubles and digitally added them in.
They thought about cutting Finnick and Annie’s wedding (gasp!)
They were concerned about the wedding slowing the pace of the film, but Nina knew the fans wouldn’t stand for this scene not being included (imagine the anger lol). They found a way to incorporate the elements they needed to keep propelling the story forward within the backdrop of the wedding.
Noisy le Grand residents (site of the black oil scene) were suspicious when the team came in to scout locations, and later shoot
The location scouts needed to come back with security after someone threw an egg at them. Then when they shot the scenes people started throwing things as well so they needed more security. They even ended up hiring one of the kids who was throwing things (made him security too) to bring him over to the team Mockingjay side.
Francis was looking forward to shooting the sewer sequences, but then reality set in
Francis was excited to shoot the sewer sequences for a chance to do a scene that was really scary in these movies. Unfortunately it meant about a month of shooting in cold, claustrophobic tunnels to get the footage for these sequences (but thanks for doing it, guys).
The fun of messing with audience’s expectations
Francis had fun subverting audience’s expectations during the sewer sequence. He enjoyed building the suspense, mentioning how he set up certain shots to make you think Pollux was going to get attacked… but then of course that NOT being the moment of attack.
The importance of Finnick’s “Hero Moment”
They spent a lot of time developing Finnick’s fight scenes in order to give him a “samurai’s death,” as Nina put it. Also, Francis loves how the film requires you to keep moving right after Finnick’s death. There is no ability to take a beat and absorb it. The mourning has to happen during the continued chase and they used the music to communicate that.
The difficulty of showing the consequences of war within PG-13
To keep it within the rating, there had to be a minimal amount of blood and some very carefully constructed shots. They had to go back and forth with the MPAA several times nonetheless because of the intensity of the movie. Francis also had to focus more on the emotional consequences.
I mentioned this in an earlier post how I was disappointed that they did not choose to show Katniss’s burns except momentarily and had the magic Capitol medicine erase them away. Nina explains that, just like not having Peeta lose his leg, they decided to focus more on the emotional, and not the physical damage. I stand by my opinion that this was a mistake that reduced the impact of the story, so I guess we’ll have to disagree on that one. (I also still disagree on their choice to have Peeta keep his leg).
The ending of this scene originally ended with Katniss telling Gale to “get out,” but when it was screened for Suzanne, she said this was the first time that she didn’t like Katniss. Well, we don’t what THAT, so they revised the dialogue to the ending as we have it now.
The Capitol Hunger Games decision
Was Katniss’s decision based on a desire for revenge, or is Katniss saying yes just as a ruse to get rid of Coin? I believe it’s the latter, but they built the scene to allow the audience to decide for themselves.
No animals were harmed in the filming of the cat scene
Were you worried for dear Buttercup’s safely when Katniss threw the cup at that beloved cat? Well, the cup was added in digitally, so nothing was actually thrown. No worries.
Hand holding is all you get, kids
Nina knows there are lots of fans that wanted a more than just some hand holding during the Real or Not Real scene, but doesn’t have much sympathy, saying “too bad” for them. We’ve always been on the side that thought a full on love scene would be waaaaaay out of place for the movie, but we also think the hand holding/general mood of the scene was too subtle to truly give weight to what is going on between these two when they exchange the words. I actually wish they’d said nothing during this scene, rather them have the “real or not real” exchange happen too early.
Did you watch the audio commentary yet? Any other parts you thought were interesting?
Last one, guys😥