Sunday, 22 November 2015

Mockingjay 2, a chilling ending to the series / Katniss, the ultimate Francis Lawrence's diva

I've always found The Hunger Games series very odd. Which is good. 
Perhaps is not a very known fact, but Francis Lawrence, the films' director, had his big break making the videoclip for Aerosmith's "I don't wanna miss a thing", a.k.a. "that song from Armageddon". He also made the clip from "Jaded" (one of my favorites ever, see below if you like).

Before his film debut, he worked with numerous rock and pop artists making video clips, and after taking a look at the list of clips signed by him, I realised it made perfect sense for him to bring Katniss Everdeen to the big screen.

Just to name a few and make my point, he worked with Gwen Stefani, Shakira, Avril Lavigne, Destiny's Child, Pink, Shirley Manson (Garbage), Alanis Morrisette, Beyonce, Nelly Furtado, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, Mila Kunis (in Aerosmith's Jaded)...

Just a few pre-Hunger Games Mockingjays Lawrence directed

Are you catching the pattern by now?

Please see pictures above and compare poses and ideas

If you need someone to direct a video about a strong, beautiful woman with an edge, he's your guy. And the Mockingjay surely had three out of three. She's the ultimate Francis Lawrence's diva.

So, I've watched all the movies and now that the last film, Mockingjay Part 2 is out, I went to see it in the cinema, and a chilling thought cooked in my mind as the events unfolded: I've seen this somewhere, and not precisely in the books.

There will be some spoilers below, so if you haven't seen the movie and don't want to know what happens, you've been warned.

District 12, the one with the worst living conditions, the one that supplies fuel to the Capitol, has been progresively kept under tighter and more violent control. No one in the Capitol cared when 12's kids were hungry, but when the riots jeopardized the supply, the alarms went on. Eventually, corrupt and sophisticated president Snow gave the order to bomb Distric 12 and completely destroyed it. No one in the Capitol cared, everyone was watching Caesar Flickerman's talkshow, or perhaps the games.
Just another day in Distric 12. Via
Then, the survivors fleed and reorganized in the middle of nowhere, welcomed by the blood-thirsty tyrant, president Coin who ruled District 13, an area previosly destroyed by the Capitol forces, and that now had a very heavy arsenal of weapons, a deep hate towards the Capitol and access to broadcasting.
There they, especially Katniss, are manipulated into being the face of the rebellion, making frequent and chilling videos that start spreading fear in the spoiled and desensitized Capitol population. Now they care. As the group becomes more and more radicalised, they organise to atttack the city, even willing to sacrify themselves for Coin's cause, which they've been convinced to believe is theirs.
And so they enter the Capitol and Snow decides to make an espectacle out of the hunting of the rebels.
As the city watches them on mandatory reports displayed on all screens, they go through nightmares, rivalry, internal fights, but it's too late to have second thoughts. Their faces are now on all "wanted" posters, while Coin and the game master get ready to take over in the confort of their well hidden base. It's always the young and vulnerable who take the shots for the greedy and powerful.
Propaganda loves children. Via

Snow then decides to evacuate part of the Capitol, and calls up all the refugees to a safe area where food and medicine is promised. As all the scared and disoriented people follow his instruction, Katniss and her "star squad" infiltrate the refugees and, hiden amongst them, plan to get close enough for an attack. 
Surveillance is weak and they manage to seize the chaos to get to Snow, and then, when he's captured, Coin makes her move and brings fire to the Capitol. Now the bombs weren't in distant and empoverished Distric 12, they were in the heart of the shinniest city of Panem. The children crying were not malnourished, the adults running were not miners and farmers, and the buildings burning were not shabby huts and improvised markets.

Then a Real Life makeup brand started selling 12-Districts inspired makeup. Via

And at that point, Coin shows her (ill-hidden) true colours. After what could pass as a successful coup d'etat, she seats in Snow's office with her military junta and appoints herself "Interim" President of Panem, with elections coming, eventually "when the time is right". 
Then, her first motion is to organize a "symbolic Hunger Games" where the districts will get their awaited revenge by watching the Capitol's children fight each other in the arena. As a populist, vindictive, master of propaganda, the woman knew who'd be the sole winner of that.
Katniss, who had knew for a while that Coin's medicine was worst than Snow's disease, manages to put her down before she pull off that plan, and a mob of angry people takes care of Snow. After that, in an idealistic turn of events, Panem actually gets what seems to be a fair election and a decent president, so everyone can now go on with their lives and rebuild their homes.
But the nightmares will never go away. And the lost ones will never come back.

Francis Lawrence was also aware of the uncanny resemblance of the movies' story to less fictional events, and in an interview he gave after the premier of Mockingjay 1, he resumes it very accurately: "Suzanne Collins wrote a series of books specifically about the consequences of war, and one of the facets we get to explore in this movie is the use of propaganda in war, and the manipulation of imagery and people in the use of propaganda. Unfortunately, this kind of thing has been happening for a really long time. Now, due to technology, it reaches people in a faster, more immediate way.”

The Carrot Vs The Stick

Perhaps, if there was a Hunger Games' expanded universe, we could have seen more of the other districts and more of the Capitol. Probably we've seen the better-off districts worrying slowly and becoming paranoic when the fire arrived. Maybe, we'd discovered that many people with Capitol's passports were recruited and radicalised thanks to the Mockingjay's charisma and manipulation (see flamboyant Effie, who turned up to be a rebel). Who knows, if there was anything similar to social media in Panem, many people would have covered their profile picture with the Capitol's colours to show empathy, while others would bitterly wonder why wasn't it possible to get District 12's colours when it happened there.

I think that Mockingjay Part 2 was a pretty good movie, with an eerily timed premiere, and even though it was slower and longer than The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, it was fair to the books.
And by the way, Francis Lawrence -the director- and Jennifer Lawrence -the Star- have the same last name but are not related. Speaking of coincidences.

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