Monday, December 8, 2014

Movie Monday: Mockingjay - Part 1

Mockingjay - Part 1
When opportunity arises, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize few people have the time or desire to read the amount I do, especially when it comes to the 100 Best Novels list. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good story in any form.

Like everyone else, I have been anxiously awaiting this movie, well, basically since Catching Fire came out last year at this time. I know that Mockingjay is largely considered to be the weakest novel of the trilogy (more on that in a moment) and I was excited to see how the adaptation was handled.

I was not disappointed. I thought it was a beautiful adaptation of a difficult book.

Now, I know a lot of people out there have said the movie is just average and does not have the same strength as the previous ones. Almost everyone I have talked to about it, including Kevin, complained that it felt drawn out. I have so many thoughts on all this. Bear with me as I flesh them out.

Also, as an aside, I am going to try and stay spoiler-free for those who may have seen this movie, but not read the book. No promises, but I'll do my best!

Before I can get into the movie, I have to revise my public opinion on Mockingjay. I still feel the book is hurried and that Collins skims over details. Peeta's transformation still tears me apart. But, I no longer think it's a rocky conclusion to the story of Panem and Katniss Everdeen. I think it's the appropriate ending, one for which Collins is not given enough credit.

To me, the final book takes us deeper into the psyche of Katniss than we have ever been. In the previous books, we have loved her because she is surrounded by those who love her so unconditionally: Peeta, Prim, Gale, her mother. We love her because they do. Yet, in Mockingjay, those people are stripped from her. Peeta becomes, well, crazy. Prim and her mother are caught up in their medical training (this is seen more in the book than it was in this Part 1 movie). Gale becomes consumed with being a soldier and fighting in the rebellion; his focus has shifted. 

So, here we find Katniss, alone and confused in her PTSD. She is broken in every way. She is continually being pushed and prodded to be someone she really is not. The book shows so much of her emotional turmoil and inner battle. I think that's what makes it hard to connect for many readers.

The movie, however, I felt did a brilliant job of fleshing out some of that emotional trauma. Because it has been split into two movies, the plot is no longer rushed. Instead, we have time to be with Katniss and to better understand her position and pain. What some cite as the film being drawn out, I saw as a chance to emotionally connect with a Katniss who could have otherwise come across as unlovable or unstable. Of course, it helps that Jennifer Lawrence is, as always, insanely talented. The slower plot movement allowed for more emotional understanding and connection on the part of the audience. Moments like when Katniss sings "The Hanging Tree" become so much more powerful than in the book because we see her vulnerability, a key element that is muddled by all the violence and action in the book.

As for the movie itself, I thought it was a wonderful adaptation of a book that could not have been easy to translate onto the screen. I thought the director made some excellent choices, like the added rebellion stuff. I am typically not a fan of non-canon elements being added to a film adaptation, but I felt the extra bits of seeing the rebellion at work in the districts made the film so much more powerful. Again, we are able to see the big picture and the power of the movement, rather than being bogged down by a rush through plot points.

One thing in particular I really loved was the District 13 chant that was added. I don't have any recollection of this, or anything like it, being in the books, although I could be mistaken. After each of President Coin's speeches, the hidden district does an almost military war chant type thing. I found this to be such a powerful symbol. Not only is it foreshadowing of Coin's character and leadership, I also found it to be a poignant parallel to the silent Mockingjay three fingered salute. The difference between the war chant and the silent, peaceful protest spoke volumes to me. What a powerful statement about the rebellion and its different efforts!

It was, of course, so sad to see Philip Seymour Hoffman on screen. He was wonderful and I can't wait to see him in Part 2. Seeing the film dedicated to him at the start of the credits was beautiful and, I'm sure, a heartfelt decision by the cast and crew of the film.

So, those are my thoughts. Thanks for making it this far. In a nutshell: I loved it. And I love that this franchise continues to offer up deep, thoughtful, powerful story for analysis and contemplation. It's what continues to put Hunger Games on my list of favorite series.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think? What do you think about Mockingjay the book? 

No comments:

Post a Comment