Monday, April 9, 2012

The Hunger Games

By Rafidah Sapa’at, Year 2, Diploma in Dental Hygiene & Therapy

One of the highly anticipated movies of the year, The Hunger Games is based on the young adult novel by Suzanne Collins. Set in a post apocalypse dystopian North America (now renamed as Panem), a totalitarian government, helmed by President Snow, holds a yearly televised gladiatorial death match known as the Hunger Games, in which young people are selected at random (and labelled as tributes) to survive and fight each other to their death.

Katniss Everdeen (played by Academy nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence), a fiercely determined teenager and hunter, volunteers in place of her younger sister to be part of the Hunger Games, alongside Peeta Mellark (starring Josh Hutcherson). Soon, they are thrown into a forest styled arena where 22 other tributes battle their way for survival.

Josh Hutcherson stars as 'Peeta Mellark' in THE HUNGER GAMES. Photo credit: Murray Close
For viewers unfamiliar with the book, you’ll be happy to know that the film does a good job of introducing the backdrop and setting of Panem, the remnants of North America consisting of the rich Capitol and surrounded by 12 poorer Districts. The film opens with the landscape of District 12, where we are introduced to Katniss in the woods, a skilled hunter preying on wild animals for food. We also see her at home, protective and loving towards her younger sister. The latter is the reason why she volunteers to replace her sister, who was selected as a tribute in the Hunger Games.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as 'Katniss Everdeen' in THE HUNGER GAMES. Photo credit: Murray Close

The film started off at a slow pace, showing us the pre-Hunger Games rituals the tributes usually have to go through. It is also interlaced with flashback scenes of Katniss’ encounter with Peeta prior to the Games. The pace eventually builds up to the actual games itself and I can’t help but recoil in horror as a bloodbath ensues and the other tributes easily hacked and slashed each other without any mercy. You are left rooting for Katniss and the youngest tribute named Rue, who despite her small sized frame, uses it to her advantage.
This being a book to film adaptation, some scenes were altered, such as how Katniss got her Mockingjay pin (she bought it in the film, but it was given to her according to the book).
I was also impressed with the additional scenes not in the book but added to the film to intensify the drama, such as how the Gamekeepers control the Arena where the Games were held, controlling the weather and occasionally designing dangerous situations for the tributes. The reaction of the District citizens to the death of their tribute was heart wrenching to watch.

'Katniss' being escorted by Capitol guards. Photo credit: Murray Close
Credit has to be given to the costume and set designer for how they styled the crazy and flamboyant Capitol citizens and portrayed the excess of their lifestyles.

The Hunger Games is also a hugely televised game show which 'Capitol' citizens love to watch. Photo credit: Murray Close
Overall, The Hunger Games had me really riveted and at the edge of my seat. It has a great narrative plot, intense and violent at the right times. My only complaint is that the ending was a tad too rushed for my liking. But then again, what works in a book may not translate so well to film. I’m happy to note that they retained the catchphrase constantly repeated throughout the book, “May the odds be ever in your favour” (sounds like a certain Star Wars saying, no?). And the odds are certainly in my favour for this movie.  

Rafidah is a Year 2 Dental Hygiene & Therapy student who enjoys reading, art and craft, and especially sewing. Since she was much younger, she has sewed clothes, pouches, felt animals, and tote bags for her friends and herself. Nothing gives her more satisfaction than making something from scratch. She also loves movies and the unpredictability of LOMO photography. She loves taking dreamy, vintage photos with her Diana F+ camera. During her free time, Rafidah likes discovering new places (especially ice cream joints) to eat, and try out new different new things like yoga and kick boxing.

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