Mockingjay Flies Higher than Earlier Installments

On November 21, in our now-annual trip to the wonderful Yancey Theater to see the latest installment of Hunger Games film adaptations, the Mayland gang was joined by a fantastic group of high school students from Avery High School. Thanks to their teacher, the incredible Hollie Greene, I was able to speak with the students about the book’s symbolism before they joined us in the theater. Seeing the film this time was not only a great experience because of our high school friends, but also because this movie, much more so than the previous two, often delivers the goods when it comes to grasping the deeper meaning. Though no film is perfect, and a film based on a book is always fraught with changes readers don’t like (the students sniggered at the shirt I wore, proclaiming simply: “The book was
better”), Mockingjay part 1 has some elements that make it, undeniably, the best adaptation of the trilogy so far. Join our conversation with your thoughts if you have seen the film! If you haven’t, I’m not holding back on the details, so be warned! [Read more…]

Fire Burns Brighter this Time Around, but Gamemakers Still Could use Some Schooling from my College Students

Three years ago, I began using The Hunger Games as a required novel in all sections of my Expository Writing classes at Mayland Community College. Most of my students had never even heard of the book, and only one or two had read it before, but it was a unanimous success that changed students’ outlooks on everything from reading to politics. We anxiously followed movie news, as the film adaptation got underway just up the road from our campus, and some of our students and their friends and family members worked on the movie.

When the film debuted in March last year, we made arrangements with a local theater to have a Mayland showing, at which we could all yell things like “I can see my house from here!” in scenic shots, and the students who were extras could exclaim, “Hey, that’s the back of my head!” Other than such delights, the film held a fair few disappointments for us, most of which could be summed up in the phrase “Less Seneca Crane! More Madge!”

This time around, I kept my expectations low, as the removal of Madge, the absence of a circular gold cornucopia, and the elision or removal of so much of the first novel’s symbolic power had not prepared me to be impressed with the sequel. But I made arrangements with the delightful Yancey Theater (if you are ever in Burnsville, NC, please support this local business and enjoy a classic old theater!), put out the word, and rounded up 70 or so students, faculty, staff ,and friends to see the movie early on opening day.

Much to my surprise, it seems as if, this time around, we have Gamemakers who have actually read all the books; though they might still be able to take more than a few lessons from the savvy crowd who saw the show with me Friday, they at least seemed to have made an effort to be faithful to the text, even if they miss (again) much of its symbolic weight. [Read more…]

Guest Post: ‘A New Map of Panem’ by Mark Windsor

Recently, we had a wonderful message from Mark Windsor regarding his theoretical Panem map. We are now delighted to present his complete map, along with a very careful breakdown of why he positions which districts in which spots. We hope you will enjoy Mark’s super analysis and graphics and that you you will join in our conversation to support, add to, or contradict his conclusions! Thank you so much, Mark. If President Snow needs a secretary of Geography, the odds are really in your favor!

A New Map of Panem by Mark Windsor

Not long ago, I encountered a map of Panem that someone had created based on reading of the Hunger Games trilogy. My first time through the series, I hadn’t thought too much about what Panem actually looked like. You can compare what appears below with what inspired the attempt. If you scroll down on the link above, you’ll see a list of “what we know”. There are a few things on that list that seemed a bit off track. I thought, “Well, this might be fun.” And thus a new project was born – Why not create a map of Panem? [Read more…]

The Standard Rich and Famous Contract: Some Unconventional if Totally Appropriate Catching Fire Casting Suggestions

It seems like everyone is weighing in on casting suggestions for Catching Fire. The Girl on Fire site has been doing a “Finding Finnick” series; one of our recent posts presented a wonderful possible structure for the film, prompting a commenter to quail in terror at the thought of Harrison Ford as Plutarch Heavensbee. All of this prognosticating and wondering has led me to a very different possible direction for casting the Victors chosen to compete in the Quarter Quell. Why not cast actual celebrities, a la The Celebrity Apprentice and other horrible reality shows? Before you start throwing things at me, follow me after the jump to see my suggestions and to see why having actual athletes and movie and rock stars as the Victors would actually be completely in line with Collins’s story of entertainment as slavery for both its viewers and those it ostensibly glorifies.
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Hogwarts Professor on Hunger Games Victory Tour: Appalachia, Academia, and it’s All in the Pin

I have just returned from a wonderful whirlwind visit to the fabulous Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University where I was whisked to speak on The Hunger Games as Appalachian novel. I also had the opportunity to present that topic at the much closer but also wonderful Lees-McRae college, and I have been (and will be) doing other Hunger Games-type programs in the midst of the movie hoopla. As our month of Hunger Games movie madness winds down, these programs help bring readers and filmgoers into our on-going conversation about the complexity and artistry of Suzanne Collins’s Panem novels. Join me after the jump to hear more about the talks and about events with our students Mayland Community College where, for me, all this started. [Read more…]