The Hunger GamesThursday, May 03, 2012 By Kyla Anderson
Set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future, the nation of Panem consists of twelve dirt poor districts surrounding a wealthy capitol. Every year two children from each district are “reaped” to compete in The Hunger Games. As punishment for a past rebellion against the government, The Hunger Games is an annually televised event in which 24 children, 12 boys and 12 girls, are held captive in an arena and forced to fight to the death until there remains only one victor. Katniss Everdeen, our protagonist, volunteers to take her sister's place as a tribute in the 74 th annual Hunger Games and competes along side Peeta Mellark, her district's male tribute. Based on the best selling book series by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games was internationally released in theaters on March 23, 2012 as a science fiction action drama film. The young adult novel was published September 14 th , 2008 as the first in a series of three and has been sold in 38 countries and 26 languages. Catching Fire, the book's sequel was published on September 1 st 2009 and Mockingjay, the final book of the trilogy, was published on August 24 th , 2010. Collins herself wrote the screenplay for the film with revisions by professional screenwriter Billy Ray. Buzz for the film has been huge and a social network role-playing game titled The Hunger Games Adventures was released via Facebook to coincide with the film's release. Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, the film set the North American records for the third best opening weekend box office sales of any movie, at $152.5 million, behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows – Part 2 and The Dark Knight, and is the biggest box office debut for a non-sequel. Lawrence underwent extensive training to prepare for the role such as archery rock and tree climbing, yoga, running, combat, and parkour. Khatuna Lorig, Olympic bronze medalist, was even hired to coach Lawrence with archery. About 30 actresses were viewed for the role of Katniss such as Abigail Breslin and Emma Roberts. Some familiar names up for the role of Peeta were Lucas Till, Evan Peters, and Alexander Ludwig who was later cast as Cato. Lawrence was cast in the role due to the insistence of Collins. Collins deemed that Lawrence had the maturity and power necessary to play Katniss and that Lawrence was the “only one who truly captured the character I wrote in the book” having “every essential quality necessary to play Katniss.” Intimidated by the size of the film, Lawrence took three days to accept the role. Lenny Kravitz and Stanley Tucci both make appearances in the film, Kravitz as Katniss' Games stylist Cinna, and Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, announcer of the Hunger Games. Inspiration for the trilogy came to Collins while flipping back and forth between channels of Iraqi invasion footage and reality television. The Greek myth of Theseus and Roman gladiatorial games formed the framework for the novels. Collins describes Katniss as a futuristic Theseus. Theseus is said to be responsible for the coming together of Attica under Athens and known as the “unifying king.” Both the film and novel received criticism for similarities to other works such as the American short story “The Lottery” and the Japanese novel Battle Royale . Many have made arguments that the film has a feminist or Christian agenda and political overtones favoring left-wing, right-wing, and libertarian view-points. Some point out that while Katniss may be a gender defying role, displaying both masculine and feminine traits while being a strong, decisive girl, she is also torn between two boys, much like Bella Swan of The Twilight Saga, and poses no threat to modern social order. Since the release of the film many controversies have broken out, including, but not limited to, unrealistic body image, racism, and sexism. Twitter exploded with racist tweets criticizing the choice to cast three African American actors to portray Thresh, Cinna, and Rue. However, the book clearly states that all both Rue and Thresh are “dark brown skin.” In response to the backlash, Amandla Stenberg, who portrayed Rue, tweeted “As a fan of the books, I feel fortunate to be part of The Hunger Games family … It was an amazing experience; I am proud of the film and my performance. I want to thank all of my fans and the entire Hunger Games community for their support and royalty.” Many critics expressed distaste towards the casting of Lawrence in the role as, in terms of weight, she did not resemble a character who had suffered a life of starvation. However, a number of journalists consider these remarks to be pushing an unrealistic body image expectation for women. In the book Collins' physical description of Katniss goes as such: “I stand straight, and while I'm thin, I'm strong. The meat and plants from the woods combined with the exertion it took to get them have given me a healthier body than most of those I see around me.” The release of the movie has been indefinitely delayed in Korea. Set to be released on March 30 th , 2012, the film was considered to be too violent and was unanimously voted for an indefinite delay by the Vietnamese National Film Board. Lawrence, Hutcherson, and Liam Hensworth, who portrays Gale, are all signed on to their roles for the entire movie franchise. Director Gary Ross will not return to direct the sequel and has been quoted to say “As a writer and a director, I simply don't have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.” The sequel to The Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, is scheduled to be released November 22 nd , 2013.