With “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” set to burn its way into cinemas in just a few days, I thought I’d take the time to look back over the book and talk about what scenes I’m looking forward to seeing; what things I hope that director Francis Lawrence has got right and what concerns I have for the cinematic adaptation of one of my favourite books.
Whilst “The Hunger Games” was a brilliant story that saw us whipped along Katniss’ journey, trials and ultimate survival in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, “Catching Fire” is less about the journey and more about the characters, who find themselves thrust into the spotlight as their country starts to rebel against its oppressive government.
Having said that – there are still some brilliant scenes in the book that I cannot wait to see brought to life, ones that feature heart-wrenching drama between the characters and pulse-pounding action. Just beware – there are some plot spoilers below!
1. The Victor Tributes
After learning that they will be thrust back into the Hunger Games arena for the Third Quarter Quell (a special anniversary Games), Katniss and Peeta soon come face-to-face with various other Victors from Panem’s Districts. Whether it’s the debonair Finnick from District 4, brutal Johanna Mason from District 7 or quietly intelligent Beetee from District 3, each of the Victor Tributes has something unique to add to the story and I’m looking forward to seeing them brought to life.
2. The Relationship
Whilst we as the audience are aware that Katniss’ love for Peeta was largely manufactured during “The Hunger Games” as a way to keep them both alive, it is in “Catching Fire” that Katniss realizes that she may have some real feelings for Peeta and though she is confused about what they might be, it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops during the Victory Tour and the Quarter Quell Games.
3. The Victory Tour
As an avid reader of the books, I’ve always wondered what the other Districts looked like – we got to know District 12 and the Capitol during “The Hunger Games” and saw a brief glimpse of District 11, but it will be fascinating to see how Francis Lawrence has created Districts 1-10 for Katniss and Peeta’s Victory Tour.
4. The Fashion
Although one of the key focal points of “The Hunger Games” was the outrageous styles of the Capitol compared to the plainness of the Districts, we have been warned that “Catching Fire” features some wonderful costuming and from what we’ve caught during snippets of the trailers, there’s definitely a lot to be seen. Having said that, though – I’m most looking forward to seeing Katniss’ spectacular wedding dress burn away and transform into the iconic Mockingjay dress that sets the spark for the rebellion in Panem.
5. The Quarter Quell
Given that the Quarter Quell is a special anniversary Games, designed to further crush any thoughts of freedom among the Districts, I am intrigued to see how Lawrence creates the disturbingly artificial Arena that has Katniss’ and her allies running from vicious monkey mutations, lost in poisonous fog, attacked by screeching jabberjays and drenched in a sickening blood rain.
So there’s my Top Five things I’m looking forward to seeing… but what am I worried about?
1. That Things Will Get Cut
I know that in order to successfully adapt a 300+ page novel into a 2-hours-or-less movie, things have to get cut here and there. But, having said that, I hope that Lawrence hasn’t cut any crucial or heartwarming scenes, such as Peeta giving Katniss a pearl he found in the Arena, the scene where Gale gets whipped by Peacekeepers for hunting illegally or the often-amusing moments where Katniss is teased by her fellow Victor Tributes.
2. That It Won’t Look Natural
I noticed throughout “The Hunger Games” that even though Katniss’ relationship with Peeta was meant to be an artificial one to sway audiences and keep them alive – as a member of the audience, I just didn’t believe it. Their connection wasn’t that great and I didn’t really buy into the star-crossed-lovers thing. I’m hoping that as they develop a friendship during “Catching Fire”, things will start to look a little more believable from an audience perspective.
3. That It Won’t Feel Right
The story that “Catching Fire” tells is one of a nation that is on the brink of rebellion. We haven’t yet heard from District 13 (who ultimately become the masterminds behind Panem’s revolt against the Capitol), and the only rallying point that citizens have at this stage is an unwilling one – Katniss Everdeen. I hope that Lawrence is able to capture the tension of a country that wants to rebel but doesn’t know how, and the fear of a young woman who realizes that she is about to become a powerful political symbol whether she likes it or not.
And lastly, from what I’ve seen, what do I think has been done well (so far?).
1. The Settings
From the bleakly cold District 12 to the outrageously fanciful Capitol to our very first glimpses of the Arena, I think that Lawrence has created a stunning visual landscape that will really take viewers on a complete journey throughout the former United States, which has since become the nation of Panem.
2. The Characters (i.e. Katniss)
I think Lawrence has really thought out how Katniss’ is feeling throughout Catching Fire and translated that well to the screen. From her conversation with Prim about staying alive vs. making a difference, to the hysterical young woman pleading with Haymitch to stop the rebellion and the empty, broken Victor forced to attend Capitol festivities held in her honour, we have already begun to see the many facets of Katniss’ character, how the first Games have affected her and where she is headed during “Catching Fire”.
3. The Marketing
I think that the studio has done a wonderful job of positioning the film so that we as the audience are almost meant to feel like the Capitol Citizens – we watch Katniss’ journey, we can see the nation in rebellion and how things are beginning to change. The stunning Capitol Portraits series, the makeup collection courtesy of CoverGirl and a myriad of other bits and pieces has audiences hanging on the edge of their seat, waiting for the films release.
And so, where will you find me come midnight on Wednesday 20th/Thursday 21st November? Down at my local cinema, ready to see the Girl on Fire and how she burns on in “Catching Fire”.