From books to the big screen
RECENTLY, THERE HAS been a growing frenzy of excitement surrounding one of the most highly anticipated films of 2012, The Hunger Games. Based on the best-selling book by Suzanne Collins, the buzz surrounding the film has been compared to the likes of Harry Potter and Twilight. But all the hype has left some of us wondering: What’s the big deal?
“Part of [the appeal] is [that this is] a genre that encompasses a lot of different attributes—you know, the adventure, or the romance, or intrigue—and because these books are really so much about escapism,” explains Katarina Lukich, a recent U of O grad who conducted a pilot study on fantasy literature. “To me, Twilight wasn’t a great read by any means, but it had the romance and the danger. But then you have something like Harry Potter where it has all of those great things but it’s also just amazing writing.”
The Hunger Games, according to some fans, falls somewhere in between.
Arielle Lerner, an avid Hunger Games fan and student at the U of O, says she first heard about the series by word of mouth.
“I can’t even exaggerate how many people I heard raving about the book,” Lerner explains. “I finally had to see for myself what all the buzz was about.”
The movie, released on March 23, has already been a huge success, posting the fifth-best opening day ever with $68.3 million (U.S.), and fandom over the books has only escalated with the release.
“The whole time I was reading the book all I could think about was how it would make such an awesome movie,” Lerner says. “I’m most excited to see the actual Games come to life … Even though I know what happens, I’m going to be on the edge of my seat.”
Nicole Jones, another Hunger Games enthusiast, shared similar sentiments about the movie release.
“I’m excited for the movie because I think the visual medium will highlight the disparity between each of the districts and the Capitol, [the poor and rich areas in the book],” she explains. “Being able to see the characters will also emphasize just how young they are—specifically Rue [a young character in the book], because the actress is actually close in age to the character.”
Movie-goers might notice significant changes in the book’s film version. In order to cater to a younger audience, film makers decided to tone down the violence to the fit the PG-13 rating.
Jones believes the lessened violence didn’t detract from the storyline for Hunger Games enthusiasts.
“In the end, it’s not the depiction of violence that sets the stage for the rebellion—it’s the fact that children are murdered and murderers,” Jones explains.
Lerner, on the other hand, wasn’t so convinced about taming down the gory scenes.
“I’m a little nervous about the low rating,” she says. “Catering to a younger audience could result in some ideas being changed or some scenes being played out in a corny way.”
The common conclusion is the film will be a success because of one factor: Its large audience appeal due to its fantastical themes.
“I truly believe that these books are so popular because it’s all about escapism—a break from reality,” explains Lukich. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, sometimes anybody could use that break.”