I have a secret to tell you. I have all the Hunger Games books, but I haven’t read any of them yet. I’ve made a conscious decision to watch the films first, and then read the books. This is a reverse of what I normally do, but I’ve found that I’m less disappointed in the films if I don’t come to the table with a fixed notion on how or if the film and book jived. This past Saturday night, I went with a friend to watch the latest addition to the Hunger Games franchise. Did Mockingjay Part 1 meet my expectations? Follow the rose.
The story picks up after Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) are rescued and brought to District 13, an unground rebel hideout. Although Katniss is happy to be reunited with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), her mother (Paula Malcomson) and younger sister, Primrose (Willow Shields), she is devastated to learn the Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has been captured along with fellow victors Johanna (Jena Malone) and Finnick’s girlfriend, Annie (Stef Dawson).
Her mentors are also at District 12, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and the delightful Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) a woman who can do fashion wonders with burlap and scarves. Plutarch Heavensbee, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, is also at the hideout along with President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) who wants Katniss to lead the revolution.
Katniss is a reluctant rebel until she sees first-hand what happened to District 12 thanks to the diabolical President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss’s reaction and rousing speech is filmed by Coin’s propaganda crew which includes the very talented Natalie Dormer of “Game of Thrones” and “The Tudors” as Cressida.
I’m not going to talk too much about the plot because this is a movie that needs to be savored… slowly… like fine wine or the fragrance of a rose. I want to talk about the concept of a future where children are sent into games where they fight to the death and all for the enjoyment of rich and pampered citizens. This is the world that Katniss and her friends live in. The people in the districts are overworked, poor, hungry, and under the rule of a police state that is governed by a tyrant. President Snow uses the white rose to taunt Katniss. Snow admires and fears the young girl who is both a symbol of freedom to all the districts and his mortal enemy.
Katniss has fallen in love with Peeta. She never expected this to happen, but it did and Snow will use that love to destroy Katniss and the rebellion. President Coin wants to use Katniss’s anger to win her rebellion. What neither realizes is that Katniss is pure of heart and that, my friend, is a weapon that can bring down the gates of hell itself.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was directed by Francis Lawrence and is based on the trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games trilogy eerily reflects the growing separation between classes that is going on today. Corporations are having more say on how our government is run and the middle class is vanishing; going extinct and Suzanne Collins has captured this future reality in her stories. Katniss in the film is a symbol of survival, determination, rebellion and love.
Philip Seymour Hoffman had completed most of the scenes for Mockingjay before his death. He will be missed.
I’m glad that I didn’t read the books first. I’ve gone to see all the films unbiased and I’ve enjoyed being surprised and shocked by the first three films and, I can’t wait until part 2 of Mockingjay comes out. I will read the books at my leisure and savor the images that my imagination will take from the story and it doesn’t really matter what Katniss will look like in my imagination. A rose is still a rose.
Go see the film.