"Catching Fire," the second installment of "The Hunger Games" series, captured the emotions and futuristic concepts presented in the books written by Suzanne Collins.
Directed by Frances Lawrence, "Catching Fire" follows Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, into a new arena for the Quarter Quell, the 75th Hunger Games.
Since the 74th Hunger Games, hope has risen in the districts through Katniss, the "mockingjay" of the people. This symbol is depicted brilliantly throughout the film.
As the train passes through a tunnel, a stamp of the mockingjay is shown on the walls just long enough to give the audience an idea of what is to come at the end of the tunnel. The viewer only sees this symbol as long as Katniss does, a great example of subjective narration used in the film. This creates a sense of confusion, much like that of Katniss'.
The most obvious mockingjay reference is the use of a dress made to look like the bird itself as Katniss raises her arms. The expression and body movement of Lawrence while in this costume shows the almost hesitation, and eventual confidence, of the idea of hope.
Perhaps the most subtle, and most powerful, depiction of the mockingjay, is the use of camera angles and movement as Katniss enters the arena as one of her closest loved ones is dragged away by The Capitol.
Lawrence's expression is one of terror while under the ground of the arena while the camera is at a straight-on angle. As the tube rises, Lawrence's expression begins to fade from terror to confusion. As she reaches full height in the arena, the low camera angle show's Lawrence above with her arms out from her body enough to show the sky through them, much like a bird. The camera then pans up slowly with 360-degree movement around Lawrence as her expression changes solely to anger and determination.
A major difference between the film and the book turned out to be a nice touch of dialogue to make up for details only a book can explain. The series' antagonist is given screen time with his granddaughter. Through the use of a simple braid in her hair and one line of dialogue about love, the audience understands what drives the antagonist to his decisions.
Adding characters and perspective to a book adaptation was a risky move, but only helped guide the viewer through the complexity of the character's motives.
One aspect of this film that cannot be overlooked is The Capitol. The camera movement while filming Capitol scenes is almost a crane movement of constantly flowing through air, to portray the grace and elegance the Capitol citizens are meant to have.
The costumes in the film seem to be exactly as described in the book. With such dramatic makeup and costume descriptions given by Collins, a fine line between "Capitol fashion" and "drag queen Halloween" was evident. However, this was handled perfectly in this film. The costumes were more dramatic than anything seen in today's world, but were designed with enough thought to be believable in the context of the film.
The futuristic feel of "Catching Fire" is something director Lawrence knew the audience was expecting. This was accomplished through the set, but also the futuristic mindset in which the actors were directed to portray.
Citizens of The Capitol held their noses in the air and never gave robotic reactions throughout the film, just as expected.
"Catching Fire" is one of the best book adaptations in film history. Viewer's will leave the theater off to buy a mockingjay pen with three fingers raised for the districts.