The Hunger Games Ruined Me

The Hunger Games movie earned an “E” on its report card.

And by “E” I mean “Exceeds Expectations” inching towards the “Outstanding” level on the meter.


On the morning of the 23rd of March, I woke up feeling strangely anxious with the thought that I was going to watch The Hunger Games later that day with Ann-Marie. I was going to watch The Hunger Games. I was going to watch the Hunger Games. After two years of painful waiting, I was going to watch The Hunger Games.

Much unlike midnight premieres everywhere else, dressing up as a character in the movie to a movie screening is not considered the least bit a norm here but I tried my best to dress as Katniss Everdeen anyway, and by “my best” I mean tying a braid and wearing an ordinary black shirt as a sad excuse for a tribute shirt.

But I will say this for myself, and that is, I am very, very lucky indeed. I am lucky because the release of The Hunger Games movie coincidentally falls on the same date as one of my orthodontic appointments and what better than to watch The Hunger Games at a high-quality cinema (you may be a high-quality cinema but your website still sucks, GSC) at Penang? Hence, I tweeted about it last month and surprise, surprise, Ann-Marie suggested a meet-up to watch the movie and that made things greater.

I changed my braces colours to red, orange and yellow that Friday morning, the colours of the girl on fire. Later, because the movie only started after lunchtime, we went to Midlands where the Popular store there was having a books clearance sale and I bought 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath as well as many other outrageously cheap books.

The event in which Michelle tries to be Katniss Everdeen, or at the very least, a Hunger Games tribute.

AND THEN IT WAS TIME and I got lost making my way to GSC and panicked for a bit but managed to make it to Hall 2 before the movie started.


As soon as the Lionsgate logo appeared, I let out an “oh my god” and let the influx of exclamations and cusses begin.

Katniss at the Hob

In my opinion, Lionsgate portrayed District 12 perfectly. The coal miners, the dilapidated houses, the Hob, the beggars scraping nutrients off animal bones…it was these little details that made the movie believable.

Gale and Katniss. Liam Hemsworth as Gale is still foreign to me. Liam has this “pampered boy” look, if you get what I mean and he’d be perfect portraying a spoiled prince from the Middle Ages but as a hunter who lives in the poorest district of Panem? Inapproprié.

Then, the reaping. So sullen and depressing and awkward and we even gasped when the Peacekeepers buzzed the kids’ hands for “registration” because honestly, ouch. And when all the children assembled before the Justice Building, it finally hit me that whoa those are a lot of kids. It was something I never really paid attention to or could imagine when I read the

Katniss and Gale

book and it made things worse because it’s like breeding a pool of children just to have them slaughtered on national television. The reaping was horrible, but the only person who seemed to be enjoying it was Effie Trinket, that madwoman. I also found it interesting that they showed the mandatory Capitol video about how the districts rose from the ashes after the Dark Days and finally found bliss and happiness because of the Capitol. That was a detail that would normally be left out but no and +1 for you, Gary Ross.

It was also at the reaping that I realised how afraid I was of Effie Trinket. Not because she looked outrageous (although that was a good contributing factor) but because she seemed so heartless, so ignorant and indifferent towards all these children’s lives at stake, that the fates of these kids were perpetually in her hand as she dug around the reaping bowl to fish out a paper which contained the name of a child who had a high risk of dying a horrible death. But then again, that was how all Capitol people thought. “23 people are going to fight to their death! Hooray! This is fun!” was what Ann-Marie said, supposedly mimicking a Capitol person’s thoughts about the Hunger Games.

But really, are they to be blamed? These Capitol people? After all, they were brought up to be this way. In the end, it all came down to the mere existence of the Capitol.

Effie Trinket and Katniss

Prim’s name was called, and I heard gasps from the audience. That few minutes of stunning silence as Prim looked lost, sad and frightened at the same time as everyone slowly inched away from her was fantastic; it played the earth-shattering atmosphere well. And when Prim tucked in her ducktail…such strong feels okay. The volunteer scene was great, as was in the trailer, and +1 for you too, Jennifer Lawrence, for your believable pained expression. I read a review that said Jennifer Lawrence was believable as Katniss because she embodies her character completely to the extent that you can see the pain Katniss feels in her eyes, and that is stellar acting right there.

Peeta’s name was called after that, and at the sight of his sad face, everyone in the cinema cracked up. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark was something I wasn’t very happy about ever since they picked him as an official cast. I’d grown up watching children movies that starred Josh Hutcherson, and then suddenly he was Peeta Mellark, the boy I loved in the trilogy? I went into the cinema with the same disapproval towards Josh, but came out reevaluating my opinions. He wasn’t bad, after all, and an example can be seen through his pained expressions throughout the movie, not much unlike Jennifer Lawrence’s.

And here came the part everyone is upset about: the giving of the mockingjay pin. In the books, Madge Undersee, District 12’s mayor’s daughter was the one who was supposed to give Katniss the pin but this subplot was cut off totally in the movie. I was upset about this at first but then to be honest, it didn’t have as huge an impact on the movie overall as the Avox girl subplot which Gary Ross expressed his regret to cut off. (“You have to kill your darlings.”) So, it was Prim instead who gave her the mockingjay pin.

The boy with the bread

And then there were scenes of how the phrase “the boy with the bread” came about, in which Peeta threw Katniss a bread when she was on the brink of starvation, symbolizing the day she found hope for her and her family. What I’m kind of upset about is the fact that this scene was supposed to happen when they were just children, after Katniss’s father died and all means of putting food on the table had come to an end…until Peeta Mellark threw her that loaf of bread. But in the movie, it looked as if the throwing of the bread had happened not long before the reaping itself, so the immensity of Katniss’s gratitude towards Peeta was largely lessened.

On the train, it was a complete antithesis to District 12 and we caught our first glimpse (besides Effie Trinket’s presence of course) of the mechanics of the Capitol. Large, comfy couches, shiny chandeliers that hung over long, vibrant tables that held plates and bowls of food so splendid and grand…the luxuries disgusted both Katniss and Peeta. Haymitch then made his first appearance as a drunkard and that was quite well, but the scenes involving Haymitch that ensued throughout the movie were more of a sober Haymitch then a drunk Haymitch. To quote Taylor, “There should only be one scene in which Haymitch isn’t drunk.” Plus, the fact that I’d initially tied Haymitch’s character to Robert Downey Jr.’s face way before the casting was announced sort of marred my perception of Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. I also thought Woody!Haymitch wasn’t as bitter as portrayed in the books. This is a man who had no one, who had to see tributes he mentored die every year, not one who immediately sobers up when threatened by a tribute for once. Even in the books, it took quite some time for him to put down his liquor enough to help Katniss and Peeta in the arena.

Speaking of the threat scene, it was Katniss who’d lodged a knife on the dining table between Haymitch’s fingers when he’d refused to offer any decent advice. And thus this was where Effie Trinket’s infamous “THAT. IS. MAHOGANY!” line came in, expressing Effie’s utmost concern towards the welfare of the dining table instead of Haymitch’s nearly decapitated fingers.

People of the Capitol

We saw the Capitol for the first time as the train rolled into the station, and the first thing that Ann-Marie said as soon as the Capitol people appeared was, “She [Effie] multiplied!”

And sure enough, the Capitol was basically a breeding nest of Lady Gagas. Their fashions so quirky and gaudy to the extent that it was almost disgusting and goosebump-raising– the Capitol essence was excellently played. In fact, every scene in the movie that involved the Capitol -the tributes’ penthouse, the Gamemakers’ room, the training center, the gala where the chariot parade was carried out- was stunning.

Unfortunately, things weren’t stunning for Katniss as she had to undergo a full-body makeover and later, she met Cinna for the first time. Maybe I should mention that Cinna was also initially added under my “I don’t like (actor) as (character)” list but have I changed my mind after the movie? Probably. I don’t know. I still think Cinna should be gentler and more understanding instead of Lenny’s slight brashness and bluntness. Plus, in the movie, we didn’t really get to see how Katniss and Cinna really bonded because one minute she was meeting him for the first time and the next they became really close and that is something I’ll address later on down the plot chain.

Somewhere around the time when our lovable group from District 12 entered the Capitol, there was a scene that pulled at my heartstrings. Two Capitol children were fighting each other with toy swords as Haymitch looked upon their actions. That scene alone spoke a million words, and I could almost hear the thoughts going through Haymitch’s head. So your kids are here playing, pretending to kill each other while you watch us, our kids really kill each other, feeling entertained.

The chariots

And then, one of the most anticipated scenes: the chariot parade! First off, let me say that…the fire! Wasn’t it supposed to cover their entire costumes? Instead it only reached the waist, which wasn’t only odd-looking but also disappointing. But apart from that, everything was great– especially the part where Katniss and Peeta held hands and the Capitol crowd went berserk. The Capitol’s enthusiasm was also one of the highlights of the movie; it made the Games even more sadistic that it already was. We tend to cheer along with the characters in movies and while the chariot scene could almost trick us into believing that this was yet another exciting reality show ala X Factor or American Idol, we saw the bigger picture of the Games and this was an interesting element of the movie.

The next day at the training center, besides tribute training, my love for the Careers also started here. Cato, Clove, Glimmer and Marvel; so lethal yet so fascinating and riveting. No one else could’ve played the Careers better than Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman (especially Isabelle Fuhrman), Leven Rambin and Jack Quaid. Isabelle, only at fifteen year old, always had that naturally evil look (if you are wondering, Isabelle Fuhrman played Esther in the horror movie Orphan) and Jack Quaid’s smirk gave you the impression that he wasn’t someone you wanted to be near to within a ten foot radius.


Besides the Careers, we also saw tiny Rue for the first time. Rue, whom Thresh exchanged secretive smiles with when she stole Cato’s knife and looked at Cato’s eruption from a net hanging from the ceiling. I like that addition; it gave the message that Rue wasn’t entirely a weakling. Plus, the exchange of smiles between the tributes from District 11 was adorable or what?

But the strange part was when Katniss asked Peeta to show his strength because apparently the Careers were looking at him as if he was “dead meat” since Haymitch had instructed them not to show their talents in the training center (which would benefit the other tributes). So Peeta did what Katniss told him to, hurling a weight at a rack of weapons, and apparently it turned out to be impressive because the Careers’ smiles faltered a little and they dispersed from the crowd. But all I could think about then was wow this is an awkward scene because compared to what the Careers did this is hardly anything.

Anyway, moving on.

It was the private session time with the Gamemakers and Katniss entered the evacuated center before Peeta. Here was where Seneca Crane, Head Gamemaker got a lot of screentime and may I just say that his beard is one of the definite highlights of the movie. An interesting detail of the training center: I personally liked the fact that the Gamemakers were placed on a raised platform

Seneca Crane and beard

that overlooked the center which indirectly showed authority over the tributes because when I was reading the book, I’d expected the Gamemakers to be on the same level as everyone else and that was a nice additional detail I hadn’t expected to encounter in the movie. The next series of events was exactly like how it happened in the book. “Katniss Everdeen, District 12?” She introduced herself to gain the Gamemakers’ attention as they were all chatting noisily with each other while feasting on rich Capitol food. Katniss picked up a bow and arrow, shot at a dummy but missed and lost the Gamemakers’ attention instantaneously. Indignant, she tried again and managed to hit the target but this time, no one was even looking at her. Frustrated, she shot at the Gamemakers, pinning the apple out of a roast pig’s mouth, and then excusing herself from the center with a sarcastic “Thank you for your consideration.”

Katniss told her entourage about her little stunt and it was groundbreaking news for Effie Trinket. Haymitch, however, was all smiles and thumbs-up which set Effie into a more heated outrage. However, when Katniss’s score was televised and she found out she’d acquired an outstanding 11 over 12 marks, Effie’s frown turned into a smile and she soon forgot about Katniss’s “bad manners”.

We also saw a scene not through Katniss’s eyes as President Snow warned Seneca Crane for giving Katniss an 11 and proceeded to talk about how strong hope was dangerous and it was exactly what the creation of the Hunger Games was created to quell.

Caesar Flickerman and Katniss

And then it was time for the individual interviews and can I just say that no one could possibly play Caesar Flickerman better than Stanley Tucci had. And Katniss was just the perfect amount of awkwardness even, no, especially when she was twirling in her flaming dress. Then it was Peeta’s turn and he was the perfect amount of charm. The confession scene left nail marks on my cheeks but I was surprised Katniss didn’t show any expression except for a strange stoicism as she stared at the screen. Wasn’t she supposed to be shocked and confused? When Peeta came out, we saw the bitchy side of Katniss for the first time as she roughly shove him against a wall and demanded to know his intentions. At least she didn’t shove him into a flower pot which broke and cut his hands. Effie shouted, “MANNERS!” at Katniss and Ann-Marie replied, “Says Lady Gaga.”

Finally, it was the day of the Hunger Games. Katniss was escorted by Haymitch to a hovercraft where Haymitch gave her final words of advice. His rooting for Katniss was made more obvious by that, since he was with Katniss and not Peeta. Cinna was with Katniss as she prepared herself for the arena at the Launch Room, and he had secretly pinned her mockingjay pin on the inside of her jacket. Is it just me, or did the producers make it look as if Cinna and Katniss had something going on? Especially in aforementioned scene, where quite affectionate gestures were exchanged despite the fact that their friendship wasn’t even really played out before this.

She then entered the tube which brought her up, up, up to the arena and then the ominous countdown added to the exhilaration. I was practically hanging onto my seat by then. It really felt as if I was in the Games itself, you could almost feel the movie screen giving off adrenaline vibes. And then the countdown ended at 0 and everyone was running, running and we were awarded the brutal bloodbath scene at the Cornucopia. Everything was moving really fast but we could still catch glimpses of Cato going for the jugular, Clove’s knives lodged in someone’s back, the turn of a tribute’s head, an arrow in another’s chest. It was all very bloody and not to mention disturbing and I finally realised why The Hunger Games is a PG13 movie.

Clove almost got Katniss, but she managed to use the backpack she’d picked from the Cornucopia as a shield to block the attack. Then, she made a run for the woods.

Clove, Glimmer, Cato and Marvel going in for a kill

The entire journey in which Katniss searches for water was unfortunately cut off as we saw her reaching a stream mere minutes after leaving the Cornucopia. She then found shelter in a tree and strapped herself onto a branch to settle down for the night. The next day, she continued exploring the forest, and then the scene shifted and we were looking from the Gamemakers’ room, where Seneca Crane ordered a fire to drive Katniss away from the edge of the arena and towards the other tributes. And with several touches on screens slash sort-of-game-consoles, bam! A fire was produced. Katniss woke up to the terrifying sight of a fiery wall and immediately took off with her supplies, managing to survive but with a bad gash on her leg. She found a river and only got minutes of relief before she was spotted by the Careers and had to make a run for it despite her bad leg. The Careers actually started whooping and cheering maniacally by then, all grins as if they were headed for a party instead of a kill. She started to climb a tree, which proved to be the right move because the Careers later found out they were too heavy to follow her up and Glimmer’s archery skills were trash. And then Peeta appeared, apparently part of the Career team! With nothing they could possibly do to harm Katniss, they decided to wait it out and camped under the tree for the night. And now let me just interrupt this moment to say that the movie showed a scene in which Glimmer and Cato were apparently snuggled against each other under the tree and let us just hold onto that thought, shall we? Glimmer and Cato, star-crossed lovers from District 1 and 2, giving Katniss and Peeta a run for their money?

Well…I kind of like it. But I would’ve liked it more if it was a Cato/Clove shipping we’re starting here.

Cato at the bloodbath

Katniss received a sponsored parachute from Haymitch, in which contained burn medicine for her wound. She then, too, strapped in for the night. The next morning, she noticed Rue’s presence in a neighbouring tree, and she subtly pointed to something above Katniss’s head: a trackerjacker nest. This was where the scene shifted to Caesar Flickerman and Claudius Templesmith on television, explaining to the audience what it was that Katniss had seen and what exactly the trackerjackers could do. I think it’s interesting that they managed to cleverly convert what were Katniss’s inner-monologues in the book into something like this to keep the storyline complete.

Katniss had an idea and started ascending the tree to saw off the branch that holding the nest. She got several painful stings, but the nest eventually dropped onto the ground and angry trackerjackers swarmed out immediately, assaulting the Careers. All of them managed to get away except for Glimmer, and we saw her thrashing on the ground, covered from head to toe in trackerjackers which, needless to say, was disturbing. Katniss was already starting to feel the effects of the trackerjacker stings which made her woozy, and I was actually dreading the scene of Glimmer’s grotesque corpse but it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. At least there was no “oozing green pus” as stated in the book. But Katniss started to have multiple visions and this happened when Peeta appeared all of a sudden, asking her to run, and she did, though she succumbed to her hallucinations in the end.

The following scenes were of Katniss’s nightmares’ of her father dying in the mines, her house back in District 12 exploding into a multitude of debris, her mother’s sinking into depression after her father’s death…and then she woke up with a jolt to find herself covered with leaves. She found Rue then, and apparently she’d been applying the leaves to Katniss’s stings, a form of home remedy to treat trackerjacker stings from District 11. The two agreed on an alliance and decided to go for the offensive now that Katniss was armed with a bow and arrows stolen from Glimmer. Rue was instructed to create diversions as Katniss headed down to the Cornucopia where the Careers’ stockpiles were. Cato, Clove and Marvel set off after the smoke, Rue’s distraction, but this time, they left the boy from District 3 at the camp to guard the supplies. Foxface made a sudden appearance and danced through the minefield and managed to run away with some supplies. The boy from District 3 was obviously very dim for not noticing her stint and only went after her after she’d fled into the forest. This was when Katniss had her chance to destroy the supplies by sending an arrow through a sack of apples which dropped and activated the mines. She went temporarily deaf as she watched the Careers return and Cato, evidently furious, broke District 3’s neck. Katniss recovered and managed to escape before they saw her.

Rue's death

She started to search for Rue, whistling her four-note mockingjay call. She suddenly heard a scream and it could only come from Rue. Here’s my opinion on Rue’s death: it wasn’t as sudden and impactful as I’d expected or even depicted in the books. In the books, Katniss arrived just in time to see Marvel spearing Rue but in the movie, Katniss managed to cut Rue free from the net she was ensnared in before Marvel appeared suddenly and hurled a spear at their direction– and got an arrow lodged in his chest almost immediately. However, Katniss turned around to find the spear sticking out from Rue’s chest. Katniss, sobbing laid her down and Rue wanted Katniss to sing. That was the second time Katniss sang “Deep In the Meadows” (the first time was for Prim at the very beginning of the movie). Rue died and Katniss found flowers to lay them around Rue, a symbol of rebellion towards the Capitol, refusing to play the Games on their terms. Before leaving, she held three fingers to her lips and then to the air, a symbol of respect towards the people of District 11. Then, we were brought to District 11 itself, where everyone who was watching the Games onscreen did the same thing back at Katniss, before starting a full-scale rebellion by overturning barrels of grain, attacking Peacekeepers, setting fires to buildings. I was shocked because this was pure Catching Fire material. Later on, I read interviews by Gary Ross saying, “I thought it was important that you begin to start to make the turn into Catching Fire, that you see the seeds of the rebellion, you see what Katniss has caused.” I thought it wasn’t really necessary, since Katniss herself didn’t even realise about the existence of uprisings until a quarter into Catching Fire but it didn’t harm the movie.

"Oh, there you are Peeta. How many times have I told you not to become a rock?"

We got another bonus scene after that, and by “bonus” I mean “scenes that aren’t in the book at all because they aren’t through Katniss’s eyes”. Haymitch was struck by a sudden idea and went up to Seneca Crane, convincing him to turn up the teenage romance between Katniss and Peeta, hoping to alleviate situations since he had a hunch President Snow wasn’t very happy with Katniss’s actions which sparked a rebellion. Hence, Claudius Templesmith announced the new rule that two tributes of the same district could be crowned victors. Back in the arena, Katniss started to search for Peeta…and found him by the river, camouflaged as a rock. The camouflage was so frighteningly real that we burst into laughter when we could make out Peeta’s face on the slab of rock, and that was only when he opened his eyes and moved his lips to talk.

And then we got the cave scene.

For many Katpee shippers (or Peeniss, for the more perverted shippers out there), this was the scene they were all waiting for, the scene they practically lived for (I’m not kidding, there’s a tumblr with the url ‘we-live-for-the-cave-scene’) but I wasn’t expecting much because of the Malaysian censorship. However, we got to witness one out of two kisses so at least the censorship board was relenting this time (and to the credit of the cinema audience, everyone instantly went “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww” when Katniss and Peeta locked lips). I have to say though, that the romance was more toned down in the movie than in the books. There were many instances when they were so, so close to kissing, and Ann-Marie was starting a “kiss, kiss, kiss” chant next to me, but then it turned out to be a hug, or nine seconds of staring at each other, or a caress of the face or just a peck on the cheek (which received a “You call that a kiss? -H” note from Haymitch as he sent a parachute of broth to them).

Then, a feast was announced and despite Peeta’s warning to not risk her life for him, Katniss headed for the Cornucopia when Peeta was asleep. Foxface dashed in and out in mere seconds, but when Katniss tried her luck, she was met with one of Clove’s knives– on the forehead. The struggle and fight that ensued was a heated one, but Katniss ended up on her back with Clove ontop of her, brandishing a knife. Clove was the best Career, to be honest. She was so aggressive and scary and sadistic, and that face, seriously, with that face of hers, who wouldn’t be afraid? She was close to drawing blood out of Katniss when Thresh appeared, furious that the Careers had killed Rue, and proceeded to slam Clove’s head against the Cornucopia. And just like that, the knife assassin from District 2 died. From what I could gather from tweets and Tumblr posts, many people were cheering when Thresh killed Clove but really though, what’s there to cheer? Clove was just as young as anyone in the arena, if not younger, and despite her cruelty, her blackened heart, was death really something worth cheering at, especially the death of a teenager? It all just boiled down to the cruelty of the Capitol, turning children into heartless killing machines.

(Besides, I like Clove.)

Thresh found out that Rue and Katniss had been allies and let her go, just this once, for Rue. Without hesitation, Katniss immediately returned to the cave with the medicine she’d gotten from the feast and applied it on Peeta straight away. And then there was more cuddling, but (to Ann-Marie’s dismay) no kissing. And no emotional story-telling or proper exchange of feelings either, as told in the book. Peeta’s leg healed quickly and the next day, it was as good as gold, which was puzzling because for the rest of the story, Peeta was supposed to be handicapped.

Foxface's death

Katniss and Peeta started foraging for food after that and Peeta even managed to be witty by telling a joke. (Katniss: “We should probably look for food. Peeta: “I’ll take the bow.” Katniss: “…” Peeta: “…” Katniss: “…” Peeta: “I’m just kidding!”) They then separated to look for food; Katniss went hunting while Peeta went looking for edible plants and berries. After a while, a cannon went off and Katniss panicked, thinking it was Peeta only to find Foxface’s body lying next to the pile of berries Peeta had collected. It appeared that Foxface had consumed the berries, not knowing it was poisonous nightlock.

The sky darkened all of a sudden, turning it into night and they heard Thresh’s guttural scream before a cannon went off. Thresh’s death meant that there was only Cato left. As the duo ventured deeper into the woods, we got the scare of a lifetime when a mutt suddenly appeared out of nowhere and attacked Peeta. Katniss managed to kill the mutt and both of them made a run for the Cornucopia.

Two things to point out here: Peeta was, once again, unhurt and thus not handicapped, which was not the case in the book; the mutts weren’t introduced as muttations in the form of the 21 dead tributes. That would’ve spiced things up.

Unfortunately, Cato was already on the Cornucopia and after a fight, he got Peeta in a headlock and started genuinely going crazy. At least, that was what I’d thought when he said, “Go on. Shoot. Then we both go down and you win. Go on! I’m dead anyway – I always was, right? Tell that to them! How’s that, is that what they want? Huh? I could still do this. I could still do this. One. More. Kill. It’s the only thing I know how to do and we pride it in my district. Not that it matters…”

Things were chaotic then because what on earth was happening?

Because that sounded a lot like Cato insulting the Capitol and whoa, brand new subplot. Who was them? What was it that they want? The Capitol, I figured, and what they wanted was for the districts to realise that they had the ultimate control over everyone, even their children. That almost compensated for the lack of “spiciness” I’d mentioned earlier.

Katniss managed to shoot Cato on the arm and he fell to the mutts. She sent another arrow at Cato, this time aiming to kill, lessening his suffering as the mutts tore away at him. Shortly, a cannon went off, the mutts took away Cato’s body and the sky brightened up again. Katniss and Peeta slid down from the Cornucopia, waiting for the hovercraft to bring them away, for any sign that indicated that they were the victors of the 74th Hunger Games; instead nothing happened.

Then, a voice came over the speakers, announcing that the new rule about having two victors had been revoked. Peeta, ever the saint, demanded that Katniss shoot him but Katniss pulled out the nightlock berries instead. They counted from 1 and then major awkward scene as Peeta suddenly stroked Katniss braid at the second count. It was so abrupt and unexpected and out of place that we couldn’t help laughing. That scene was reminiscent of one scene in Deathly Hallows Part 2 when Ron suddenly wiped away a stain on the edge of Hermione’s mouth after she’d stupefied a Death Eater. Before they could swallow the berries, a voice called out to them, asking them to stop, and they were crowned victors.

Katniss and Peeta's interview after the Games

The next series of events happened very, very fast, way too fast for my liking because this was supposed to be the moment of dread as Katniss realised what her stunt had meant to the Capitol. Instead, we were rushed through scenes of Haymitch telling Katniss that “the Capitol wasn’t happy with her”, the final interview with Katniss and Peeta, the crowning of the victors by President Snow (only Katniss got a crown, someone tell me what was going on?), Seneca Crane being locked up in a room with a bowl of nightlock, indicating his self-execution, and finally, the train back to District 12. Here, we didn’t get to see the confrontation between Katniss and Peeta, when Peeta found out that Katniss’s romantic actions towards him had all been an act for the Games. Instead, Katniss only said that she wished she could forget about everything that had happened in the arena but Peeta wished otherwise.

I have to admit, the ending was very weak. We saw Katniss and Peeta dressed in Capitol clothes standing on a stage overlooking the whole of District 12, linking hands and waving to the crowd, Gale included. Gale, who was smiling at the both of them. That didn’t really make sense since we can deduce that Gale was unhappy with the couple’s romance from the few times the camera shifted from a passionate Katpee scene in the arena to a jealous-face Gale scene back in District 12 (may I add that whenever that happened, the cinema audience would burst into laughter). Plus, the producers had made it seem as if the Katpee romance was real and not just an act like it really is. The Capitol’s fury was also not accentuated, as if Haymitch’s warning was just a passing remark.

President Snow

Lastly, we saw a close-up shot of President Snow who was seemingly upset in the Gamemakers’ room, no doubt looking at the live footage of the victors’ return to District 12, before he turned away and the movie ended, followed by the haunting melody of Abraham’s Daughter by Arcade Fire.

I really didn’t want to leave my seat then.

Well, actually I did, because I had to pee really badly, but what I meant was I didn’t want the movie to end just yet. We followed the crowd out of the cinema, and for a moment, I’d forgotten where I was and what exactly were all these things and all these people that weren’t part of the Hunger Games movie and it felt like I’d lost something precious. I couldn’t stop tweeting about it all the way home and when I got home, I tweeted some more. Tweeting, watching interview videos of the Hunger Games cast on Youtube, reblogging graphics and gifs on Tumblr, rereading the Hunger Games trilogy, listening to the movie soundtrack non-stop for a whole week was how I dealt with my Hunger Games withdrawal. Hence why this post is long overdue, and also because it took me quite a while to put my feelings into coherent words.

Overall, despite the few flaws in the movie, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and The Hunger Games by Gary Ross is arguably one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I’d actually expected less, what with the dissatisfying cast and the common knowledge that book adaptations are usually crappy. I know many subplots in the book were cut off but to be honest, I was being judgmental because if all the many little subplots were added to the film, we’d be sitting in the cinema for more than four hours and really, who wants that? The portrayal of the settings and events of the story was accurate enough to make me believe that the Hunger Games were actually real, and that was more than I could ask for.

I believed in the world of The Hunger Games, because I believed in Katniss Everdeen.

Safe and Sound

Listening to Safe & Sound for almost a hundred times over the span of two days now has got me thinking that this song is more suitable for the ending of Mockingjay.


I remember tears streaming down your face
When I said, I’ll never let you go
When all those shadows almost killed your light
I remember you said, Don’t leave me here alone
But all that’s dead and gone and passed tonight

Safe & Sound sounds like a message from Peeta to Katniss towards the end of Mockingjay. Katniss suffers from post-war trauma during which everything is considered a dangerous element because everything is so fragile. Like a bomb that can go off at any second despite the end of a war– the irony of it. After what she’s been through, after months of terror and sorrow, it’s as if nothing can ever be safe anymore. But Peeta is present, and he promises never to let her go as he sees the “shadows” of her past -people she’d killed, people who’d been killed because of her, people she loved leaving and dying- slowly suck the fiery passion out of her. Katniss doesn’t want Peeta to leave her, because of the nightmares, the faces of the “shadows” appearing in her dreams to taunt her over and over again, but with Peeta’s presence -“But his arms are there to comfort me.”- he promises her that they will all pass eventually.

Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You’ll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I’ll be safe & sound

Night time usually brings terror (as it was in the Hunger Games) but this time, he’ll protect her. And in the morning, after the nightmares, he’ll be there for her and she’ll be safe and sound.

Don’t you dare look out your window darling;
Everything’s on fire
The war outside our door keeps raging on
Hold onto this lullaby
Even when the music’s gone, gone

I reckon that the “fire” and “war” are not literal but are instead mental battles Katniss is facing. He’s saying, don’t revisit the sorrowful times, despite the fact that they won’t ever really go away. Instead, hold onto “this lullaby”– Rue’s lullaby. “Here it’s safe, and here it’s warm, here the daisies guard you from every harm.” There will be moments when you feel nothing, nothing but a blank static screen and even all music is gone, but know that you are always protected and that you are safe.

In the music video, there are parts where Taylor Swift enters a dilapidated old house and that reminds me of the times when Katniss would revisit her old house in District 12, the one where she lived with her mother and Prim before the Hunger Games. Some scenes also showed Taylor in distress and at some point, even starts to hallucinate and this fits post-war Katniss.

I was also struck by another idea that this song could also be a message from Katniss to Prim, also post-war Mockingjay setting. Katniss is saying now that Prim’s gone, she’s finally safe, protected from the dangers Katniss couldn’t protect her from. At least she is now far, far away from all the tragedies and disasters that happen ever so often in life. “Don’t look out your window, don’t look down on Earth. Now that you’re gone, you’re finally safe and sound.”

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