Well, I shouldn't have worried.
***MILD SPOILER WARNING*** If you haven't read the book / seen the movie, and don't want to know details, stop reading now.
|Fire is very thrilling, no?|
I loved the spectacle of it all, too. The set and costume design was amazing, especially with the Capital's technology contrasted with the primitive atmosphere of District 12. The over-the-top fashions of the Capital citizens contrasted with the homespun garb of the tributes (before the designers got a hold of them).
The plot was faithful, the dialogue was authentic, and the emotions were just as they should have been.
So why didn't I cry more? I teared up a couple times at the beginning, but that was it. I didn't even cry when Rue died. What's up with that?
Hubby went with me, too (under protest, but with lots of friends to keep him company), and his main--mostly valid--gripe was that it d r a g g e d. Soo much more than you'd expect a movie to drag when the main plot is about children being forced to kill each other.
Now, I can easily see the justification for this. The point of this franchise, after all, is that we, as a society, wrongly glorify violence, voyeurism, and the uneven distribution of assets. If such a movie were to, say, provide a swell of music to prod the emotions of those watching a violent scene (while munching expensive popcorn), it might be accused of promoting the exact behavior it condemns, yes?
Or no. Emotionally connecting with characters normally serves to drive home the message--not interfere with it. If we love someone, we are more inclined to love what they love, to hate what they hate, and to desperately yearn for what they want most. Katniss and Peeta are the perfect heroes for this. Why handicap my ability to emotionally connect with them?
The main difference between a book and a movie is that a book can provide you insight into what the character is feeling by describing those emotions. A movie can't do that, but it can show those emotions through effective acting, cinematography, and use of music.
So why was the main sound in the background of Hunger Games the twittering of birds and insects? Well, when it wasn't the roaring of crowds, anyway. Where was the music? I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I need a soundtrack to tell me what to feel, but, seriously: Where was it? Why didn't they pull out all the stops to help their audience feel the tragedy of Katniss's situation? The one thing music has on words is its ability to easily evoke emotion. A few chords can do what what a page of text cannot. Why didn't the music show up to help me feel what Katniss was feeling?
Another thing I noticed that slowed things down was the cinematography. Now, I'm the first to admit that I know just enough about films to be dangerous. A few classes in college does not an expert make... but isn't it pretty basic that shorter shots make for a more exciting viewing experience? Why was so much of the movie edited using long shots? That's the sort of thing you use when you want to give your audience time to consider and ponder during the scene. (Same concept in writing, by the way: short sentences move the action along, while long sentences drag it out.) The message here was important, but why do I have to ponder it during the film? If you evoke my emotions, I'll ponder it long after. If it is exciting enough, I'll come back and watch it again and again, absorbing more of your message each time.
Few people re-watch documentaries.
In the end, I didn't hate it. They kept the graphic violence to an admirable minimum, considering the plot, and I don't have any images in my head that I need to try to hide from. (That might also be because the emotion was detached from a lot of the violence by virtue of the sparse soundtrack.)
To sum it up, though, this is not a thriller. It's a thoughtful piece about children dealing with violence in a world that thrives on their poverty, thrills in their tragedies, and capitalizes on their deaths. It spurs much thought, but little (not NO) change in heart-rate. It is important, but not entirely exciting. Which, again, is a strange thing to say about a movie where over a score of children are murdered.
Have you seen it? What did you think?