The moment the lights turn off and the screen changes to widescreen, get ready for one of the most suspenseful cinematic experiences of your life.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is the beginning of the conclusion of the phenomenon that is ‘The Hunger Games.’ Francis Lawrence has stayed as director and if the previous film Catching Fire was anything to go by, fans knew that they were in for a treat with the next instalment of the series.
Although Mockingjay has been classed as a dystopian novel on the shelves, the film is at its core, action. The acting, mise-en-scène, cinematography and editing all contribute to this. For instance, Katniss Everdeen has always had a fiery personality but in Mockingjay she has transformed into a political figure. Even in this one film you see her change from a fragile, disoriented figure to a strong and independent woman. The development of Katniss here really highlights Lawrence’s acting skills and how diverse she can be. In fact, every single actor is hitting the best of their ability, especially Josh Hutcherson who has to maintain a serious tone throughout the film. Sometimes it was surprising at how intense his performance could be.
Francis Lawrence has fantastically created the perfect mock-up District 13; a futuristic world. It has such an articulate design and is reminiscent of elaborate video game settings like Mass Effect. One of the most memorable scenes was when Katniss stepped back into District 12 again after the catastrophes of what happened in Catching Fire. Everything is spot on – all the buildings are a melancholy grey as are the bodies piled around the ruins. Fundamentally, it looks like a graveyard. The costume of the Mockingjay is also a perfect image of the Mockingjay costume as described in Suzanne Collin’s book.
The emotional responses of other spectators in the audience shows that Francis Lawrence has really thought about his direction in order to make them feel a particular way at a particular time. This is enhanced by the haunting soundtrack that plays alongside the images.
Ultimately, after seeing the first part it is understandable why the team behind ‘The Hunger Games’ films decided to split Mockingjay into two parts. That way they can go more in-depth with the story and thankfully it doesn’t feel dragged out. Having said that, not all fans will be happy with the way they approached Mockingjay. Of course with time restrictions, actors and locations they are working with, they are limited with what parts of the narrative they choose to show on film. Go into the film with an open mind and see it for what it is, a film, rather than a book adaptation, then you will see what a masterpiece it is.