Hunger Games Trailer
November 15, 2011 by staff
Movie adaptations of beloved books are a weird thing. The first time you see real images created of a novel that had previously only existed in your head, it’s hard not to want to reject them. Especially with a book like “The Hunger Games,” which feels like a personal discovery when you read it, it almost seems like a violation to see scenes torn from the pages and transformed into images–and even more so when those pictures don’t quite match what we imagined.
The new movie has a great cast–the stars include Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci and Lenny Kravitz–but I wonder if some of the boys in the film (Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson) seem a bit too mature and studly for their roles. The horror of the book in part came because the Hunger Games forced kids to battle to the death. It feels a little different when the participants look like superheroes. If Hemsworth and Hutcherson were in MMA, nobody would be outraged. Those lads can take care of themselves.
Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” and the Harry Potter series got it right–what was on the screen seemed to represent what was on the page. In the case of “The Lord of the Rings,” some liberties were taken–there was no Tom Bombadil, no scouring of the Shire, etc.–but everything seemed defensible.
“The Golden Compass,” “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” and “The Cat in the Hat” (the 2003 version with Mike Myers) are examples of book adaptations that were, as my 9-year-old son might put it, “epic fails.” It’s hard to watch any of those films without the antibodies created from when we first read the books continually rejecting what’s on screen.
Perhaps this is all part of the reason J. D. Salinger never let Hollywood phonies mess with “The Catcher in the Rye.” Because it remains unadapated, unconquered, it stays in our heads, unsullied by outside interpretation. “Catcher’s” Holden Caulfield has nothing but contempt for the screenwriting profession. As he says about his brother, once a promising writer, “Now he’s out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute.”
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