The Hunger Games: Another Critical Perspective

Hat tip to James!

Guest Post: Katniss Everdeen as Female Hero Archetype

Wayne Stauffer teaches writing and literature at Houston Community College in Houston, Texas. He has taught a Literature and Film class on the Harry Potter books and films and is preparing one on the Hunger Games.

The release of Mockingjay Pt. 1, the third installment of The Hunger Games movies, will give us our next cinematic visualization of Katniss Everdeen and the world of Panem. Since she is such a strong character and the protagonist of the books and films, our first thoughts turn to her as the heroine of the series. But Collins has written her as different kind of action/adventure story Hero than we have seen previously. Although she has many of the qualities of a Hero that initially come to mind, there is still something about Katniss that the usual hero analysis does not address.

Conventional literary hero analysis of fictional protagonists usually examines one or more of the following Heroic Male Archetypes as the protagonist seems to exhibit a preponderance of qualities of a given kind: [Read more…]

“Panem Today, Panem Tomorrow, and Panem Forever”

Read about the commercial that is a kind of film trailer here.

Cue John’s Alchemical Analysis in 5…4…3…2…

Hunger Games: Art Depicts Life Which Imitates Art?

Hogwarts Professor Freeman posted here earlier this week about the pro-democracy demonstrations in Thailand that have taken on the three finger symbol of resistance featured in the Hunger Games books and films. I wanted to add three notes to this subject.

First, I find this adaptation both unnerving and important. It points simultaneously to the meaning of Ms Collins’ artistry in this trilogy and its potential for use and abuse.

Ms Collins is after a herd of big game in her Panem saga. One of the biggest beast questions she tries to address is the power of media and story in our lives, how story and corporate media fashioning of that story’s screened images shape our understanding of ourselves, life, and the world. Hers is not a pretty picture and the Gamesmakers, although they are largely the servants of the Capitol and District 13 governmental faces of capitalist and statist fascism, are perhaps the greatest villains of the narrative.

The events in Thailand are disturbing, I think, because they reflect how a popular culture consumed country like the country in question so easily takes on the powerful images 0f Catching Fire’s depiction of the Victory Tour’s stop in District 11.

This illustrates Ms Collins’ point about the potential of story to change people’s lives, as the Mockingjay Resistance is stirred by the Katniss and Peeta story as written by Haymitch, Plutarch, and Cinna and then twisted by President Coin to serve her ends. Forgive me for wondering, as we watch the Thai protesters, how long it will be until the images and sacrifices become commercialized and packaged.

Second, I think this is a real possibility because the conversation about the depths of meaning in The Hunger Games has been restricted to the political narrative, and, even in that sphere, to the political narrative of the left. Hollywood has recast the films so the crony capitalist government of President Snow is the black hat and the Gamesmakers are the game changing good guys, at least in potential. The spiritual dimensions of Katniss’ and Peeta’s love story, the essence and heart of the books, are lost.

I felt this most strongly when reading a strident and eloquent criticism of the story’s by a Catholic woman, Ellen Finnigan, active in efforts to combat war and violence. [Read more…]

“Heavensbee? Heavensbee?” On the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Sad news this morning that Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Hunger Games‘ movie franchise’s Plutarch Heavensbee was found dead this morning at the age of 46,  of an apparent drug overdose. Our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.

Mr. Hoffman had received many accolades for his film roles and his portrayal of the Gamesmaker-turned-revolutionary was one of the many welcome additions to Catching Fire. He had been set to reprise the role in Mockingjay.

I don’t know how far along the filming for the first Mockingjay was, but it will be interesting to see how the filmmakers cope with the loss.  Recast the role?  Kill off the character, perhaps introducing his assistant Fulvia Cardew to take his place as Propos-maker in District 13?  Even more interesting would be to take one of their other popular Capitol figures, like Claudius Templesmith or Caesar Flickerman and have them turn traitor and join the revolution as part of the rebel’s PR team.

Can anyone think of any other creative solutions?  This is certainly a bigger challenge than the loss of “Crabbe” for Deathly Hallows, Part II.

Update: Lionsgate has released a statement that Hoffman’s work on the Mockingjay films was nearly complete. So, perhaps the filmmakers will be able to piece it together, a la Brandon Lee in The Crow.