BLOODY HOMEWORK (A Casper Bogart Short Thriller)

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Feminism is a movement and ideology that advocates the social, po- litical, and economic equality of the sexes. The Hunger Games films feature a strong female protagonist who rarely depends on men for anything. On the contrary, Katniss is much more likely to be either at- tacking or protecting her male counterparts. She relies on more than weapon skills and brute strength; her success in the arena hinges on forming bonds and nurturing relationships.

She is made an object of beauty for the pleasure and consumption of others, but never will- ingly. On the other hand, Katniss does spend a great deal of time and energy trying to appease the two boys vying for her affections. An analysis might explore how this complex character manages to embody feminist principles and yet also reflect gender stereotypes. Celebrity is central to Panem: tributes like Katniss and Peeta are transformed by stylists into slick, attractive products, and then tirelessly marketed as stars of elaborate enter- tainments.

This ubiquitously broadcast spectacle keeps the masses in check by distracting them from far more serious issues. Sound familiar? A critical analysis might examine the irony of this particular social critique be- ing manufactured, marketed, and capitalized by one of its primary targets: Hollywood itself. It could be argued that the actor Jennifer Lawrence is as aggressively mar- keted and culturally omnipresent as the Katniss char- acter she portrays. In fact, the striking parallels to con- temporary society drawn by post-apocalyptic movies are almost certainly central to the popularity of the genre.

The districts of Panem are con- trolled by a powerful and power hungry centralized government located in a capital city the Capitol that is both physically and culturally isolated. This situation reflects the way many conservatives and libertarians view the U. Liberal political forces warn that U.

Is the Hunger Games series a lib- eral indictment of corporate oppression, a depiction of con servative distrust of big government, a sharp satire of commercial media, or a multifaceted reflection of a more collective cultural malaise? Ultimately, audiences want to see Katniss and com- pany bring down the government that stages the Hunger Games. But along the way, the Hunger Games movies make us complicit in the sins of the Capitol.


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We enjoy a good multiplayer fight to the death as much as the citizens of Panem. As much as any of these aforementioned fac- tors, the popularity of the Hunger Games series may be driven by an intoxicating amalgam of the kind of prim- itive impulses that fuel the license-to-kill mayhem of zombie movies and first-person shooter games, and the same competitive instincts that propel sports fandom and sports movies.

Like a great athlete in the heat of a big game, Katniss must rely on her instincts to make instant—and often consequential—decisions. At the end of those games, only Peeta and Katniss are still standing. Rather than kill her friend to give the Capitol a lone victor, she suddenly proposes double suicide, a bold choice that forces the Capitol to allow two victors for the first time in the history of the games—and makes Katniss a folk hero capable of sparking revolution.

What makes these game-changing actions notable, and partic- ular to this character and this series, is how these rash decisions and their outcomes combine unbridled emo- tion with global significance. One last critical analysis might attribute the success of the Hunger Games movies to this validating vision of teen empowerment. As you can see, even mainstream crowd-pleasers like the Hunger Games films can offer a multitude of avenues for cultural and critical analysis.

But this book is primar- ily dedicated to film form. Is Katniss a Christ figure? After sacrificing herself, she ascends into the heavens. The Hunger Games references cultural touchstones Like many speculative works of cinematic science fiction, the Hunger Games films project contemporary problems into a post- apocalyptic future.

The movies also exploit powerful ideas and images from the past.

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The clothes, hairstyles, and settings in District 13 refer- ence famous photographs of Depression-era America. His message is alarmingly clear: if Katniss does not convince all of Panem that she is nothing more than a grateful and lovestruck citizen, everything and everyone she loves will be annihilated. District 11, the home of slain trib- utes Roo and Thrush, who both sacrificed their own safety to aid Katniss, is even more oppressed than Dis- trict Shaken by the grim dignity in the faces of their forcibly assembled audience, both Katniss and Peeta go off script.

The revolution has begun. The Hunger Games movies are full of speeches, in- terviews, and presentations. Usually, the action of an audience watching a speech is pretty straightforward. Speakers speak, the audience watches and listens; the camera need only alternate between two shots to con- vey this simple exchange. Connections are made, perceptions evolve, choices are taken. While 56 shots is more than we need for the kind of comprehensive shot-by-shot breakdown we did for Juno earlier, we can still learn a lot from analyzing several representative shots and sequences.

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As in nearly all films, color is used throughout the Hunger Games series to provide context and evoke mood. Scenes set in the Capitol are dominated by a spec- trum of vibrant hues. Thanks to a combination of pro- duction design and digital visual effects known as color grading that were applied after the movie was shot, the districts are presented as virtually drained of color; what little there is consists of muted browns, grays, greens, and blues.

This shot is also emblematic of the highly ordered, symmetrical compo- sition the series employs to evoke the repressive power of the State. This same compositional depiction of au-. Sports genre movies from Rocky ; director John G.


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Avildsen to Hoosiers ; director David Anspaugh to Cars ; directors John Lasseter and Joe Ranft all incorporate many of the same story elements that make sports themselves entertaining and compel- ling. An analysis of the first two Hunger Games films might dis- cuss the ways that the post-apocalyptic sci-fi teen action films are also sports movies. Katniss and Peeta are inexperienced underdogs trained by a seemingly unreliable coach who later proves to be wise and caring. They face daunting competition and fall behind early, but cooperation, inner strength, and hidden talents ultimately lead them to victory.

The composition in that first shot is repeated twice more as the scene progresses. In all three examples, the representatives of the Capitol and the dais they stand on are composed in strict symmetry, as opposed to the rel- atively random arrangement of the District 11 workers in the foreground. The disparity between the presenters and their audience is further enforced with color and light. In the background, a dull blue shadow veils the symmetrical speakers and their armored entourage. In contrast, bright highlights rim each of the assembled workers, warming hues and giving the foreground crowd a dimension not present in the relatively flat background.

Like Star Wars Stormtroopers, the Peacekeepers on stage are dehumanized by armored uniforms and face- obscuring helmets.

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Later, in the moment the Peacekeep- ers move to attack the crowd in shot 44b, the camera dehumanizes them further by adjusting the frame to ex- clude their heads entirely. The impending threat of the Peacekeepers is empha- sized at the beginning of the scene by placing an armed enforcer in the extreme foreground of shot 3. The figure obscures much of the frame and dominates the high- angle composition. The Peacekeeper dwarfs our heroes Katniss and Peeta, who are relatively tiny by compar-. The larg- est object in the frame is usually the subject of the shot, but here that is clearly not the case.

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The looming Peace- keeper casts a shadow that influences our interpretation of a shot that nonetheless clearly belongs to Katniss and Peeta. Context and movement make this evident, but what makes their narrative significance crystal clear is the fact that they are crystal clear. Unlike the Peace- keeper, our protagonists are in focus. Filmmakers can manipulate how lenses and light in- teract to control what slice of the depth in front of the camera is in focus, and which portions of that space are out of focus.

This cinematic property, known as depth of field, can be used expressively, or simply to empha- size the most significant action or subject in a particular composition. For example, Peeta opens the preapproved victory tour speech in shot 6. So in this shot, and every other close-up featuring both victors, the speaker Peeta is a bit blurry; the silent Katniss is captured in sharp detail. We are so accustomed to interpreting and reacting to vi- sual information in our daily lives that when we watch a. When a sequence repeatedly cuts back and forth between these point-of-view shots, our automatic identification with each of the alternating characters via the camera can dramatically intensify our narra- tive experience.

As Peeta drifts into the background of shot 25, Kat- niss lingers and looks offscreen. That question is answered in shot The big-screen video projection of Roo looks back at Katniss, and by extension, the viewer.

The connection is intensified as the back-and-forth pattern continues with a cut back to Katniss. Shot 27 is the first shot in the scene she has not shared with Peeta. Katniss is now larger in the frame, increasing the im- plied significance of her reaction [27a].

She grows larger still as she steps to the foreground microphone [27b]. As Katniss begins to speak, her gaze offscreen shifts, motivating a cut to a new point of view. But this time the frame is cropped a little tighter, and Roo is a little bigger. As we saw in the Juno analysis, filmmakers often use progressions in subject size to incrementally increase significance as sequences build toward a narra- tive crescendo.

That intensification temporarily plateaus in shot 31, as Katniss continues her heartfelt tribute in the same. But the sequence surprises us with the next cut.

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The pattern established in the previous seven shots taught us to expect another similar image of Roo, but shot 32 gives us her grieving family instead. Katniss has not moved closer to the family; this enlargement reflects her state of mind as much as her point of view. Shots 33 and 34 repeat the juxtaposition—Katniss has not changed. The sequence shifts emphasis again with the next cut. Whereas preceding shots. The cut back to Katniss in shot 37 reinforces the effect—the two women are eye to eye.

Nobody on the set has moved an inch, but these juxtapositions have transformed a cere- monial speech into an intimate confession. With this break in the pat- tern, shot 38a sends the scene in a new and unexpected direction, which is reflected in film form. Before the salute, every image was smooth and sta- ble; they were shot by a camera mounted on a fixed tri- pod or gliding dolly. Now, as the old man raises his hand [38b], the camera suddenly shifts to follow his three- fingered salute, then drops back down to his face [38c].