Lionsgate’s film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ wildly popular young-adult novel “The Hunger Games” has begun filming and is set to take theatres by storm in 2012. Here are ten essential facts to prepare both devoted fans and newcomers to the series for what to expect come March 23rd next year.
1 Unlike your typical piece of teen-fiction, The Hunger Games doesn’t take place in a sugar-coated world where everyone is incredibly popular, dresses in the latest fashions and has flawless skin; rather, it is set in the brutal post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, where almost all of its citizens exist in various states of poverty beneath a “shining” Capitol inhabited by people described as selfish, wealthy and vacuous. The Hunger Games themselves are basically gladiator deathmatches, with 24 teenage tributes (two from each District) being thrown into a “vast outdoor arena” and forced to kill each other until only one combatant remains.
2 Katniss Everdeen, the series’ lead character – or heroine, as she is often described – is as imperfect and damaged as a real person. She doesn’t always know who she is, what she wants or how to get it. At times she is manipulative, cold and calculating; at others, incredibly selfless and caring. With her fiery spirit, intelligent mind and unwavering sense of family loyalty, Katniss is far more akin to Elizabeth Bennet than Bella Swan when compared to other literary heroines.
3 In the wake of seemingly endless criticism from fans about the casting of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, her performance in “Winter’s Bone” clearly demonstrates how well Lawrence is able to play emotionally complex characters; certainly, her present appearance may not mimic the Katniss people see in their minds, but costuming and makeup can change everything.
4 Whilst the series does contain a love triangle between Katniss, her longtime friend and hunting partner Gale and fellow Games tribute Peeta, her relationships with each are very naturally flawed – she finds it difficult to establish whether her feelings for Gale are more than friendship, and struggles with the extent to which her actions towards Peeta were dictated by the Hunger Games. It’s not until the very end of the series that she realises which one she wants and it’s heartbreaking to watch her have to choose.
5 Though Katniss is “handy” with a knife and “never misses” with a bow and arrow, she’s far from your typical weapon-wielding, leather-clad heroine that hacks her way through countless enemies without a single thought; rather, each time she kills a fellow tribute out of necessity for her own survival, she is left feeling a deep sense of guilt and sadness at having taken a life.
6 Jennifer Lawrence has insisted on having a great deal of input into Katniss’ Hunger Games arena uniform – specifically, that the clothes both match the descriptions and functions as they are described in the book. And, not unlike Katniss, she also doesn’t care what her Reaping, Opening Ceremonies and Interview costumes will look like.
7 All of twenty-four actors playing tributes involved in the Games themselves have undertaken extensive training in combative arts to ensure that the battle sequences in the film are as realistic as possible.
8 Though the series resolves nicely, it is a far cry from the happy ending the “Twilight” characters received; the character death toll is high and Katniss is left physically, mentally and emotionally damaged.
9 The film promises to provide greater background into how the nation of Panem was formed and the rebellion that caused the Hunger Games to eventuate; it will also aim to show how those people viewing Katniss’ Games were reacting to various events in the arena, something that was impossible to experience through the book.
10 With Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins working closely with Gary Ross on the screenplay and direction of the film, it is sure to stay true to the events of the book; however, some fairly significant changes have been made to the plot with Collins’ permission to create a storyline that engages a broader audience.