By Rachael Feinberg, ’18
“Mockingjay – Part 1”, released Nov. 21 2014, is the first installment of the two-part finale of the film adaptations of author Suzanne Collins’ trilogy “The Hunger Games.” “Mockingjay” deviated from the action-packed arena central to the previous two stories, relocating this time to the gloomy subterranean chambers of District 13.
Katniss’ internal struggles shift from the moral dilemma of taking innocent lives to insecurity of being the face of a revolution. After chosen to be saved over the other victors by President Coin (Julianne Moore), Katniss must step up and shoot a series of short propaganda films in order to inspire the districts to rebel against the capitol.
The transition from a book to a movie is never pretty, and it only gets harder when you have half of a book to work with. Francis Lawrence got the short end of the stick when it came to content. Nevertheless, the director of “Mockingjay – Part 1” stuck stringently to the text, diverging only to add scenes of additional action to keep viewers interested.
Lawrence plays up the propo theme as it fits well into a movie format. Although extra emphasis is placed on scenes such as the bombing of the hospital, Lawrence stays true to the novel in allowing Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence, no relation) to shoot only one arrow throughout the entire film.
Although the the film mirrors the text so closely, Lawrence doesn’t seem to trust viewers to fill in the gaps resulting from the page-to-screen transition. For example, in a scene where Peeta clearly warns District 13 of a capitol attack, Lawrence finds it necessary to have Haymitch exclaim “that was a warning.” Though this statement may seem unnecessary to YA viewers, comments like this aid younger viewers to whom the political allegories are too mature.
This installment is darker than its predecessors, both in mood and scenery. When Katniss returns to District 12, she is greeted by a haunting field of bones. The overcast skies and crumbled buildings of each district, while somewhat monotonous, add to the gloom of the situation in the story.
Simpler costumes worn by the tenants of District 13 contrast starkly with the capitol costumes highlighted in previous films. A shocking example of such is Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) who appears almost unrecognizable without the wigs and makeup that adorned her figure in previous films. Additionally, Katniss sports her natural hair and face throughout the film, save the propo shots.
The character development in this film is well-done. The script brings out a more mature side to Katniss’ sister, Prim, adding scenes where she gives Katniss advice about demanding Coin for Peeta’s immunity and featuring the mature advancements in her personal career.
Overall, while the half of the novel that begot this film was rather uneventful, Lawrence did a masterful job of bringing the minor details to life. The cliffhanger ending concludes an important (albeit dull) predecessor to “Mockingjay part 2”.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
*Movie poster for Mockingjay Part 1 courtesy Lionsgate Studios