Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Hunger Games

I don't know if you ever talked about this, but what do you think of Peeta's injury at the end of The Hunger Games? And it's absence in the movies?

To be honest, I don’t take as much of an issue with it as I do with disability portrayal in other media, and I’ll explain why:
I’ve known since I read the books that Suzanne Collins’ motivation, in part, was to provide a kind of commentary on war.  I know, from reading and listening to interviews that her father served when she was six years old.  She knows secondhand how war affects a person.  
As such, we see in the books, injuries like acute acoustic trauma, amputation and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Since hearing the film commentary, I know that Collins also worked closely with the director on the film - and was adamant that PTSD - as an affect of this war on these children - be shown.  Katniss’s hearing loss was also briefly touched on in the first film, but it’s difficult to portray something like that for too long in a movie, where in a book, the author can describe what it’s like.  While Peeta’s amputation is presumably left out of the movie, I can assume that it’s with Collins’s blessing, which is so important.
I understand that it’s a difficult injury to portray on film, because you’d need an actor without limb differences to play the early part and then, would have to do a lot of green screen work to portray the amputation on actor, Josh Hutcherson.  It’s my own personal opinion of course, but I’d prefer that it be subtlely alluded to (as with the slip on the ice and Peeta’s tendency to trip) than be overt and wrongly portrayed.  I feel like it would be easy to see Peeta with a prosthetic and (for some who don’t understand) view him only through the lens that he’s helpless, and that he’s meant to be pitied.  This way, with the subtleties, we, the audience, are encouraged to continue viewing him as Peeta the whole person.  As someone with a disability myself, I understand how easy it is to become one-dimensional.
I appreciate the subtleties in the portrayal.  And I appreciate the fact that the author is knowledgeable about her subject matter, and was very involved in exactly how the books translated on screen.

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