Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hungry for Mise-en-scène...

No it's not some exotic soup, though we all know I am a bit of a foodie...I'm talking about The Hunger Games. No, I will not spoil anything for those who have not had the chance to see it yet. I'd like to think I will enhance your viewing experience, if I do say so myself. This will just be a short post and I hope it gives you something interesting to look for when you do venture out to the theater. 


I just saw The Hunger Games this afternoon at a Moms (Mums) and Bubs showing and without giving anything away, I felt compelled to share my particular love for the film's Mise-en-scène. What exactly is Mise-en-scène? Pretty much, it is a word that encompasses a film's visual or design aspects. 


From the very start, the costumery and styling used in The Hunger Games brings so much life and emotion to the story. This becomes especially apparent in the contrast between the people from the districts and those from the Capitol. The best example of this is seen in the main character, Katniss and that of Effie Trinket, though I am mostly focusing on Effie.



Effie and the others from the Capitol look exaggerated, garish, plastic, and decaying, which captures their inhumane and animal-like nature. This seems so fitting for a group of people who are entertained by watching youth fight to the death as an olympic sport.  

In addition to the Mise-en-scène, the cinematography also builds the characters of The Hunger Games. Effie Trinket is often filmed in close up shots which makes her appear looming, ruthless, and larger than life. 



This similar style was also used in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho to capture the characters that were meant to be obviously intimidating or posed a threat to Marion, such as Tom Cassidy and the police officer. 



I haven't read The Hunger Games books yet but it is always interesting to see how filmmakers translate the emotion and style of a book to the screen. It is also amazing how such attention to detail can either make or break the story. For those of you who have seen or plan to see The Hunger Games, I would love to hear your thoughts on the film.

xo,

Joy


10 comments:

  1. It's all about good art direction to make the picture pretty. A bit lame how they blurred the fighting scenes to make it PG, but yeah everyone seems to be raving about the books.

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  2. I both read the books and saw the movie, and I completely agree with your post. They did a fantastic job! Another thing I loved was they way the music score enhanced the emotions of the story. Thanks for posting!

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  3. Did little "bubs" sleep through it? Or give raspberry commentary? This was a great post. I put it on my facebook.

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  4. I agree, Effie looks a bit like a jungle-cat in those close-ups. AND YOU MUST READ THE BOOKS! But set aside a chunk of time - once you start you won't want to put them down.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone :) Yes, I am very keen to read the books! @Jade yeah, the blurred fighting was a bit disorienting but I figured it was to keep the rating down. I was sitting in the front row so Tilly could play on the floor but movies almost seem to move too fast for your brian to process from the front. The bubs FINALLY fell asleep about 1/2 through. My arm was tingling with pins and needles but I didn't want to put her down and risk waking her haha.

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  6. The thought the movie sucked. Woody Harrelson was the only star and it looked like he just crawled out of rehab to do this movie and get his next fix. Woody was shaven like a bum and his hair was long a grey. He didn’t have any star quality to him in this movie. The entire movie consisted of running through greenery. Meadows. Trees. How many movies like this can we possibly make? The story line was not very original.

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  7. Wikipedia states and I quote, “The Hunger Games is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction action-drama film ... it was mildly criticized for its watered-down violence and its filming style.” ((wikipedia), 2012) The Hunger games is the style of genre of Action/Adventure/Scifi/Fantasy‎. I have to agree with whoever wrote the report for Wikipedia, because I too felt the violence was blurred and lacked in detail. The death scenes were left to my imagination to conger up when they could have been more real and graphic. However, I realize this would have earned a “R” rating then. The target audience for this film is obviously the youth, primarily. Extremely graphic scenes would have limited the audience from kids seeing the movie.

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  8. The movie was cut very quickly to enhance the action. However, all this did for me was making me nauseous. It was hard to follow the movie without having to look away to keep from feeling sick. I suppose the Director, Gary Ross achieved his purpose if the movement of his camera affected my nausea level. There was again so much motion with the camera movement itself and lots of quick shots. The characters themselves were sick with fear and they were pissed. You could tell by the expressions on their faces. I could feel it sitting in the audience. When they ran through the grassy terrain, the movement of the camera chasing after them nauseates me.
    There was no narration in the movie. Everything you get from the movie, you get from hearing what the actors have to say. It’s all direct dialog.
    The sound of the helicopter sounded like it was landing in the theatre. The movie did contain high quality sound effects. I remember the helicopter sounded like it was right on the roof of the theatre. The sounds felt like they were coming from the ceiling above me, as I was in the back row of the theatre and it felt as if the helicopter was landing directly in front and above me. The sounds of chimes appeared often in the music during specific parts of the movie. This was an interesting sounds effect that created a sense of magic in the air.

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  9. Another thing that was very confusing is how the scenes go from modern to old. It makes the viewer unsure of exactly what time period the event takes place. However, this is true in society. Everyone is used to a certain level of comfort. No matter what society level you are placed in, you do learn as the movie stated that to get sponsors, you got to make people like you. Getting sponsors in the Hunger Games is how the players or the lead characters, a volunteer, earns points to stay alive and survive and eventually mentally defeat the game.
    The lady who leads the games was dressed in white with hues of pink. The color scheme was always her clothes, her hair edges, her eye make-up, her lips, in one bright vibrant color. Some times the color accent would be purple or teal or green, but the bright color would always be painted on white. When the movie began, the hues of royal blue were everywhere. The announcer’s hair was black with extreme blue hues added to it. His hair color was vibrant royal blue. The mise-en-scene {} of the color of royal blue attributes the the qualities portrayed in the movie that these people judging the event were indeed of royalty. All of the sponsors were too dressed in vibrant colors and each individual chose one vibrant color in which their wardrobe shined in that color along with the white base. Again, throughout the movie, the colors were from one extreme of drab to the far end of the spectrum of excitingly vibrant. Color was an extremely important part of the directors creativity in this movie. The colors that caught my eye were really the only thing I enjoyed throughout the movie.
    The other announcer or manager of the game was costumed in a carved beard. The beard was shaven with great intricacy into a sculpture that added to the royalty of the performance given. I noticed throughout the movie that everyone in costume was either extremely groomed to the nines, or extremely powdered in makeup to be perceived as poor and downtrodden. The costume team was excellent in this movie. I do have to admit that much.
    The cinematography featured a lot of close ups {} and a lot of extreme close up {} shots of the characters during the movie. This helped me to get to know the two main characters, because they are vaguely unknown actors. I think the main male character was an extra in movies somewhere before. I liked the extreme close up shots of the leading characters. And the cameras seemed to remain still during these scenes, unlike the action scenes with the moving camera. One motif {} in the movie was the use of continuous extreme close-ups throughout the movie. “In addition to the Mise-en-scène, the cinematography also builds the characters of The Hunger Games. Effie Trinket is often filmed in close up shots which makes her appear looming, ruthless, and larger than life.” (Lake, 2012)
    The mise-en-scene, “From the very start, the costumery and styling used in The Hunger Games brings so much life and emotion to the story. This becomes especially apparent in the contrast between the people from the districts and those from the Capitol. The best example of this is seen in the main character, Katniss and that of Effie Trinket, though I am mostly focusing on Effie.” (Lake, 2012)
    Katress represented District 12 as a female, an archer and a survivor who defeats the game. The story was the same old love story we see in so many movies. They fight a battle until they learn that love conquers all.
    I gave the movie 3 stars out of 5. Go see it yourself. Everyone is at least talking about this movie.

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  10. Just loved this review, Joy! I read it before I went to see the movie, so I made sure to pay attention to how they filmed Effie in extreme close-ups. You're right - it made her seem more threatening, especially when she read the slips of paper. Wasn't Jennifer Lawrence great as Katniss? She's my favorite young actress right now... so talented at those sorts of roles. I thought it was interesting that they chose to give sort of a mainstream indie feel to the movie; the way they shot it with very little music and lots of shaky cam. (I think I'll see it again this week so I can dissect it more, haha!)

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