The world of The Hunger Games is filled with many interesting names though some are a bit on the nose, from the white-clad President “Snow” to a baker whose name is a homonym for “pita.” However, one clever name goes so far as to describe the entire theme of the series, and that’s the name of Suzanne Collins’s fictional nation: Panem.
The name “Panem” reflects the Latin phrase made famous by Juvenal: panem et circenses. The phrase translates to “bread and circuses,” and it refers to how the Roman government distracted suffering farmers with public games and spectacles. Of course, this accurately parallels The Hunger Games world where the corrupt Capitol has been facing increasing unrest and placates individuals with the gory spectacle of the games. The incentive to win the games is, among other things, abundant food provided by the Capitol — the distant hope of “bread” to drown out the reality of mass poverty and starvation.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 2 was released worldwide in November 2015. However, two countries notably delayed the release of the blockbuster movie: China and Thailand. Why did these countries do this?
According to The Washington Post, there were fears that Katniss Everdeen’s cry for rebellion against the government might send waves far beyond the silver screen. For example, The Post suggests Chinese censors feared a movie where a young woman urges the poor, oppressed outer colonies to rise up against the centralized totalitarian government which some suggest resembles Beijing’s relationship with its own distant provinces.
In Thailand, things were a bit more obvious. Since the Thai government came into power via a military coup in early 2014, the movie has served as a rallying call for protesters. Accordingly, certain Bangkok cinemas canceled all screenings for the opening weekend. Around the same time, other protesters were arrested for flashing the three-fingered salute that Katniss famously associated with solidarity and resistance to corrupt governmental forces.
Unless you’ve seen the films, it’s difficult to explain how much Donald Sutherland’s chilling performance as the ruthless President Snow helps to sell the Capitol’s decadence and the dystopia of Panem. Interestingly enough, however, Sutherland was already becoming this character well before he was cast!
After reading the novels, Sutherland decided he wanted the role and pursued it in a very unconventional way. He wrote a very lengthy letter to Gary Ross (director of the first Hunger Games movie) entitled “Letters from the Rose Garden.” The letter detailed the mentality of President Snow as Sutherland sees it — that absolute power has not made him a “horny” despot but instead someone who channels his passion into his rose garden.
In Sutherland’s letter, he made many connections between Panem and the real world, from his own fascination with the Sterling Silver rose of the 1970s to his own connection with Ted Bundy. Sutherland and his wife were driving through Colorado when Bundy escaped from jail. Sutherland recalled the radio warnings that Bundy looked like “the nicest young man imaginable.” He pictured Snow a bit like that — someone whose evil is primarily visible in his eyes but who appears normal and nice, a threat veiled with roses and smiles.
Because of this letter, Sutherland not only got the part, but Ross added scenes of Snow in his rose garden. This motif continued throughout the next three Hunger Games films. And despite Ross not helming the remaining movies, the omnipresent threat of President Snow that he and Sutherland established continued to loom over the characters and the audience until the very end of the series.
For someone playing characters who are often tough-as-nails, Jennifer Lawrence is usually imbued with that intangible girl-next-door quality that gives her the appearance of all-American girl innocence. Of course, that makes it shocking when both audiences and fellow cast members find out how much she loves talking dirty.
Specifically, Lawrence is well-known for her foul mouth on the set of whatever film she’s working on. In attempt to counteract this, Francis Lawrence (director of Mockingjay–Part 1 and Part 2) instituted a swear jar on set. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. An unnamed cast member told The Sun that the jar had done nothing to keep Lawrence’s mouth at bay. In fact, she keeps the jar overflowing.
One of the more controversial techniques in the modern director’s toolbox is the use of the infamous “shaky cam.” While ostensibly intended to give scenes (particularly action scenes) jolts of jittery realism, the end result is often a confused audience who can barely make out what’s happening. The first Hunger Games movie used shaky cam extensively, and many assumed it was an easy answer to the dilemma of basing an entire movie around teens murdering each other and still getting a PG-13 rating.
It turns out, though, that there was a method behind director Gary Ross’s madness.
Specifically, he intended the shaky cam to make audiences feel like they were in the shoes of Katniss Everdeen. In the novel, Ross felt the character is forced into a kind of “serpentine tunnel vision” in order to survive, and that author Suzanne Collins did this to further “destabilize” the reader. Thus, making extensive use of the shaky cam helped him agitate viewers — putting them “urgently” in her point of view — while making them feel cut off from the comforts of the real world as they’re forced to survive right alongside Katniss.
Jennifer Lawrence has wowed the entire world with her consistent quality as an actress. She can channel ruthless daring as easily as passion and humor. All of this acting talent at such a young age is no small feat . . . which is why many were shocked while watching The Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 1 to discover that she could sing, too!
In the movie, Katniss Everdeen sings an a cappella song titled “The Hanging Tree.” The song went on to become a radio hit and played across the entire world. The punch line to all of this though is that Jennifer Lawrence hates singing, and she particularly hates that song.
In an interview for HitFix.com, Lawrence described singing in front of others as her number one fear. She also said that when filming the song, she was shaking and wanted her mother. She claims that whenever she watches the movies, she actually plugs her ears during that scene so she does not have to hear her own singing voice.