The popular book The Hunger Games has now been turned into a successful movie, and audiences of all ages are flocking to see this futuristic story of a courageous young girl who must fight for her survival in a game that is part Roman gladiator and part 1984. This is an intriguing literary creation, and it has a number of challenges that must be addressed by the filmmakers and the viewing audience. This audience includes parents and educators who may wonder if this film can be used as an educational tool.
Can the filmmakers create a proper visual story?
Obviously a movie cannot re-create an entire book, as many details must be left out so the story fits into the prescribed time for a standard film. However, viewers will expect that characters will generally look like how they pictured them while reading. In addition, filmmakers have to pay careful attention to landscaping, props and costumes. This is particularly true for a story like The Hunger Games, as each of these three elements is an important component to how the story is represented through film. There are also the classic challenges of making a movie appealing to both men and women and also to different age groups. Young viewers who have read the book may enjoy the movie, but filmmakers also have to be concerned that parents find the film interesting.
How should the themes be handled visually?
Judging the appropriate audience for this story is a challenge. With a book like The Hunger Games, filmmakers have to be careful that they deal with themes in a manner that is true to the book but also appropriate for the audience. This is arguably a book series that is targeted toward adolescents, but parents have to be aware that the novels include instances of violence, corruption and youthful relationships. The violence in the movie interpretation was muted somewhat to earn a PG-13 rating and cater to the younger audience. However, a number of adult themes remain, and parents should be aware that the book and film have some mature elements.
How should educators use the book?
There are obviously different aspects of life that can play out in a story. The Hunger Games is no different. However, there are questions about the intended theme of the book and film. Is this story mostly about government corruption? Or is it just another adventure story where the heroine is simply cast in a unique environment? There is also the issue of relationships throughout the story, and educators must decide how much of a Shakespearean element can be drawn from the major characters.
What will happen with the next film?
Sequels will most likely follow as soon as they can be filmed, and it would be reasonable for filmmakers to look for feedback from a variety of audiences. The challenge with making movie sequels that are based on books is that the films can only be as good as the stories that were written in the second and third installments. The filmmakers can certainly take some liberties with the interpretation of the story, but overall they need to stick to the key parts of the plot. In order for movie sequels to get better, there must be a climax in the books. Therefore, readers will need to finish the books to find out what might happen in movie sequels.