Friday, September 26, 2014

TRAILER: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1

Finnick looks vastly different now that he did in the previous installment: gone is the open shirt, the gaudy necklace and even jaded persona: now he looks like, ... a prisoner. The "standard issue" clothing, all the way to his shoes, suggests the hero of the last film has joined a resistance that can win fast enough; but, we have to ask (and will probably continue to ask) exactly what is this a resistance against? I guess the government taking everything from them; I guess the police being militarized and firing on them; I guess the government officials living lavishly beyond the majority of people and the government being able to do experiments on people--like Peeta and Johanna--and control their minds for their own end. I guess this is what it's about, which would mean, if this is accurate, that the world of The Hunger Games has changed: the first film was absolutely anti-capitalist, but now, in the couple of years since that film has come out (and with a new director and some re-writing) the world the film has depicted is increasing like the Obama administration, which might provide us with the last two details about the image above. First, Finnick looks like everyone else, you hardly even know it's him, which is what socialists want and desire: no invidiuality, everyone looks and behaves just as the State tells them to. Secondly, the background. Being a "child of the '80s," I remember this image quite well: it's the Berlin Wall, the ultimate symbol of communism, oppression and tyranny. Whereas The Hunger Games, when first released, appeared to want business taken out of the hands of individuals, and government to run our lives (there has been some sloppy interpretations between the book and screen), NOW there is a clear indication for everyone to understand that the government means to kill these people and the people have to destroy the government once and for all. This isn't what the Obama administration wants showing in theaters right now. 
They have done an incredibly nice job with this.
As long-time readers know, I did not like The Hunger Games when it first came out; with the switching of the directors, and some additional script work, I feel the film has been turned from advocating a pro-socialist revolution, to an anti-Obama revolution. Because the books call for a revolution against the government, and Obama has been president since 2008, the film looks increasingly to be calling for a revolution against Obama, after all, there is nothing about storming stores and businesses, banks and factories, but about standing up for rights and taking back freedom that naturally belongs to each and every person:
"I never wanted to be in the Games," Katniss tells Snow (Sutherland), to which he responds, "It's the things we love most that destroy us." There are three things about this which we need to heed: first, Donald Sutherland is a liberal on par with Jane Fonda, to the point actors wouldn't get work if he or Fonda felt they were conservatives (according to Robert Mitchum's son who was blacklisted by liberals). So, Sutherland saying this is like Robert Redford in Captain America the Winter Soldier saying, "Hail Hydra," and Ben Affleck in Batman vs Superman Dawn Of Justice because they are all part of the same liberal club pushing the same agenda that conservative film makers know their audience will understand and identify "who the enemy is."
Gale is dressed much differently than Finnick, much more like Katniss (image below). Why all black? Let's start with Finnick: the all gray costume suggests one or two things or both: first, the idea of penance, because when one habitually performed penance, they took ashes an put them on their head, in a ritual reminding them that they came from ash and to ash they would return, so why bother sinning if it can lead you to hell? Once penance had been performed, however, one generally went on a pilgrimage and wore a gray robe (or other such suitable clothing), the purpose of the pilgrimage being to renounce worldly goods and ambitions and focus on God and how better to do God's will in your life. So, what do we have? Undoubtedly, Finnick, Effie and others "dressed in gray" are doing a kind of penance for their decadence lifestyles in the Capitol and embracing brotherhood over false individuality ("false individuality" may or may not be an appropriate interpretation on my part at this time, but I think it's likely: if Effie were inherently "bad" she wouldn't still be around, the same with Finnick; they did, however, embrace a lifestyle that enslaved them to materialism and neglecting higher ideals so they are doing penance that is also rewarding them with finding their true selves and their true strength). The revolution itself is the pilgrimage, the spiritual battle manifested in reality as the forces of enslavement fight to stay in power over the individual and society. What about Gale and his black uniform? Black means death: there is death to the world and there is death to the spirit. We haven't seen Gale express any ambitions or materialistic impulses, like he envies people in the Capitol and wants to kill them and take what they have for himself and others; he appears to be solely motivated by a need for freedom and justice, which leads us to understanding--at this point at least--Gale wears black as a sign of his advancement inn the cause of the revolution, to bring about the end of injustice and tyranny so the greater population will gain liberty. 
The second aspect of Katniss saying, "I never wanted to be in the Games," is the reminder to the audience that Katniss entered the Games because she was willing to sacrifice herself for her sister: there is a parallel to this that we will see in The Penguins Of Madagascar just before Mockingjay comes out. The "North Wind" organization that the wolf (Benedict Cumberbatch) commands helps animals who can't help themselves; obviously the penguins can take care of themselves, but--just as Prim couldn't have survived the Games so Katniss took over for her--so the North Wind intercedes and helps animals. What's the point? Socialists want to make capitalists look hard and heartless by allowing those who "can't fend for themselves" to suffer and die without government assistance to get them through the tough parts of life; what the socialists are missing is, because there wasn't a government to help Katniss or the penguins, they became tough because they had to and that's why they can take care of themselves; it's called, "tough love."
What about the use of the bows and arrows? Is this an anti-Second Amendment statement, that they use bows so they don't have to use guns? It's is possible, however, I think there is a more important facet. The bow and arrow has always reminded me of the Medieval period, when it's virtues were refined and it was the weapon of choice (arguments can EASILY be made to counter this, by the way). The Medieval era was also the era of feudalism, which is reflected in the societal structure of the world of Panem: the government owns everything and gives the people the food they need to survive (if they need more, they have to enter the lottery, while the Capitol keeps the surplus for itself) and this is socialism played out in reality and exactly what socialists today want to bring back. By using the bows and arrows, then, it's not a rejection of technology and progress, (remember the explosives on the end of the arrows, like Hawkeye's in The Avengers), rather, a statement that the will and determination of the revolutionaries is what will bring down Panem, not technology or outnumbering, but the will to freedom and the willingness to sacrifice for something greater. On the aesthetics of this particular poster, Katniss having her back to us is a typical device employed by Hollywood for film poster design (World War Z, 50 Shades of Gray, Anonymous, Left Behind, to name a few off the top of my head) and it's a device because it's effective: seeing Katniss from behind means we are in the position to follow her (instead of facing her and being in the position to talk her out of it or insist she do things differently) and she is asking us to follow her. Like Gale, she wears black, and we know it's because of everything she has been through that she she is dead to the world and trying to be alive in the spirit, and this is a second reason her back is to us: we are not seeing everything there is to see (the front of her) but, there is also the angle that we are seeing a part we haven't seen before. Her hair is much darker in this poster than it has been in the past, suggesting she is haunted by "darker thoughts" and maybe even oppressed by them in her need to save her family and Peeta. Katniss' arrows being black signify that the arrows she uses, will carry the force of her own spirituality and desires with them and pass them onto the targets at which she will be taking aim.
The third aspect of Katniss saying, "I never wanted to be in the Games," is the passive confession that, in spite of her not wanting to be a part of everything that has happened, somehow, it has all happened and it wasn't her forcing the events (she is like Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz who didn't want the house dropped on the Wicked Witch but it did anyway and she was celebrated and rewarded for it but also pulled into a plot she didn't want to be a part of), which suggests, that someone else (e.g., God, maybe?) has authored the events taking place and in every circumstance, Katniss has used her free will to do the right and best possible thing she could do, and that has made her stronger and prepared her for what is now happening: revolution.
This is a little more than awkward, so we should assume they intended it to be like this. Please note Katniss' neck, on both the right and left sides (the beak of the mockingjay behind her). In the image above of Gale, the beak appears the same, but compared to Katniss' poster, Gale's looks cold and lifeless (due to the absence of the fire and the mockingjay being black instead of gold). Why would they have the beak look like that in these posters? The beak is a mouth, and it's close to the neck, so the beak and the mouth act as symbols; what do they tell us? With Gale, it could be that, because the beak is closed, (he won't allow himself to have any appetites whatsoever) he is doomed (but "doomed" doesn't necessarily mean his character is going to die, but that his character isn't necessarily going to prosper and be happy, because Gale doesn't know how to be happy); with Katniss, the beak is also shut, but it's a gold beak, suggesting that she knows what to "eat" (the love of others) and what not to "eat" (the glitz and glamour of the Capitol). Gale has a heavy collar around his neck (part of his tactical uniform) whereas Katniss' neck is completely covered. Because the neck symbolizes what guides us, or what we are willing to lead us (like a collar around a dog's neck leads him where to go) so the neck symbolizes what or if we are willing to be led by something. Katniss' neck is completely covered, so it's like she is protecting herself from being led by something false; Gale's neck, however, is exposed, suggesting he is going to allow himself to be led (this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it will be up to the film makers to complete this situation and Gale's character). On a different note, it's important that we are seeing Peeta wearing all white--like Snow--and Katniss wearing all black. We know Peeta has been brainwashed, like Bucky Barnes in Captain America the Winter Soldier, so it will be interesting to see how Peeta is presented against Katniss and what happens when Katniss and Peeta come face to face again (if that happens in this installment, it may not until Part 2).
Especially in the last installment, however, it seems that Katniss was more than willing to just "go along" with whatever Snow wanted so no one got hurt (for example, her willingness to marry Peeta since it was going to happen anyway; and remember, it was Peeta who offered his and Katniss' salaries to the families who had their loved ones fall during the Games, not Katniss, so even though she may be the "girl on fire" [symbolic of her love for Prim] she isn't filled with fire the way, for example, Gale [Liam Hemsworth] is, Katniss is more timid). She's not being asked to lead the revolution, just to be the figure head, the symbolic point around which all the other citizens of Panem can gather, unite and fight.
There are three interesting things about this image: first, Haymitch has grown this fairly full beard; secondly, he's writing and, thirdly, he's wearing a black hat. The beard is usually a sign of the appetites because (and this isn't meant offensively to any of you guys out there) men who are unshaven are linked to barbarians, civilized men always shave as opposed to the men who live by their appetites, rather than a higher ideal. This is a possible reading of Haymitch, however, we have seen his character progress from the drunkard we first met, so I would suggest a different interpretation: that of a sage. Holy men, wise men and hermits also wear beards to show that they are above worldly concerns and have retreated from the physical world to partake of the spiritual world. If Haymitch is one of the "leaders" of the revolution--and given his organization during the Games in Catching Fire, that's a reasonable assumption--then he's the one we can look to for the "spouting of wisdom," which leads us to the second point. I don't know what surface he's writing upon in this image, but it has a highly "reflective" surface (you can see traces of his hand and marker in the light) which means that what Haymitch is writing is "reflective" of he himself and upon which he has all ready reflected a great deal. Last but not least, we might be in store for a big surprise from Haymitch: the black hat he wears suggests that he is keeping his thoughts to himself (hats symbolize thoughts) and that, perhaps, he's even going to sacrifice himself for the others (the color of black means death; it's also possible, however, that the black color emphasizes his new status as a "wise man" who has died to the world, that, even though he was a part of the Capitol, he has divorced himself from it). What we see in Part 1 might not come to fruition until Part 2, but I think we can count on Haymitch to do something no one expects.
Our last point is what President Snow tells Katniss: "It is the things we love the most that destroy us." That is a pretty scary statement, unless you are a Christian, in which case, you know exactly what he means, and you know that he does NOT know what he means. All of us have to be destroyed in order to be re-created and made stronger; those who are weak are afraid of that (I know I am) and that's what socialists bank on: that you are afraid. All of socialism is based upon fear: fear of losing, fear of suffering, fear of thinking for yourself; FEAR. Katniss has been scared, but her love has been greater than her fear, and that is what has guided her and exactly why Snow has not understood her; Snow thinks he has the upper-hand in using Peeta against Katniss, but Snow doesn't have a clue.
Why is Beetee in a wheelchair? We don't yet know what happened to him, but we do know it's important that we see him like this; why? Well, who in the Capitol have we seen that is in some way disabled? No one. Socialists disdain anyone who is less than physically perfect (Pol Pott and his followers would kill people just because they wore eyeglasses). Just his act of continuing to live is an act of defiance against the Capitol, and we should be on the look out for other "defiant" acts he makes.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, due out in November, has done a highly successful job of creating a world outside of the film that we, the "informed viewer" (because we have seen all the bonus material) will have added advantages when we finally see. I'm looking forward to this, now, not only because I hope it will be a strong pro-capitalist message, but also because the film makers have been creative with everything they have shown us so far thus, and this is not even the beginning!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner