Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Hunger Games Freaked Me Out

After its summer hibernation, the common or garden coffee-snouted blogging bear emerges into the light, snuffling the air like an X's Got Talent judge scenting a comeback tour.

It's not the softening of the

I hadn't seen a movie for some time, so the degree of audience involvement in the wrong way totally

I feel that the film-makers made some choices which rendered the intended message


What is the sound of a moral flying over the head of a cinema full of teenagers?
All the girls going "awww" when the two main characters kiss because they need to have an engaging romantic arc in order for their audience to send them medicine so they don't die of infection. Or, perhaps, half of the cinema applauding when one of the 'bad people' - a teenaged girl - is killed by a teenaged boy to avenge the murder of another girl.

The audience certainly engaged with the story. But they engaged with it as separate from them, created for their entertainment, to satisfy their expectations. They never considered that the rich and corrupt Capitol audience in the movie might be them. It was quite disconcerting, watching the audience respond only to the predictable (and predicted) beats of a movie about how an audience's expectations can create predetermined and constricting roles for those required to entertain them.

I could also feel the other message, about the banal destruction of violence, straining to emerge from the movie - held back by the rating. The shaky hand-camera work during the fight scenes - particularly the multiple-death opening of the contest - disguises the pain and fear that should permeate the cinema. Death occurs at a careful distance from the viewer. I think it is more than a little ridiculous to make a movie about teenagers killing each other and then do your best to avoid showing teenagers killing each other. It also makes no sense within the movie's world; it is obvious that the contest area is covered in fixed cameras, so the footage should not be shaky or blurred.

I haven't read the books. Considered only as a movie, Hunger Games is not even a swing and a miss. It fouls the ball off. Wait, that's a baseball analogy that no one outside the US and Japan will get. Let me think. It's the cinematic equivalent of rolling the last ball along the ground so the other team can't possibly hit the improbable six they need to win: it avoids defeat, but also avoids success. This movie ate the poisonous berries.

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