How faithful The Hunger Games movie is to Suzanne Collins’ novel is open to potentially endless debate. Based on last week’s record $155 million ticket sales when the movie opened, fans were eager simply to see the book brought to life on the big screen. Maybe Woody Harrelson wasn’t the Haymitch in your mind’s eye or Jennifer Lawrence the Katniss you saw in the Capitol’s arena, but there’s still a thrill to see a book you love made into a movie.
A New York Times review of the movie by Manohla Dargis finds that director Gary Ross’s film seems to “[smooth] even modestly irregular edges” from the novel’s “brutal, unnerving story.” “Details, characters, grim thoughts and cynicism have gone missing,” writes Dargis.
A certain “flattening” and simplification is perhaps inevitable when a novel, especially one like The Hunger Games, is Hollywoodized. Dargis finds Lawrence’s performance “bland” and “disengaged” but the comment that stands out is that the actress isn’t thin enough to play Katniss:
A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss, but now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission.
Apparently having a “seductive, womanly figure” — curves and all that — disqualifies one from playing a character in The Hunger Games. Should only waif-like, hollow-cheeked, big-eyed, Twiggy-esque actresses have applied? Only actresses who look like they are starving probably because they are, having put themselves on some liquid-based regimen to get that properly “hungry,” “lean” look?
As if to reinforce this sobering point about how female actresses are judged first and foremost by their looks and weight is a report that actress Anne Hathaway is eating “fewer than 500″ calories a day — which is not enough calories at all, as The Atlantic Wire emphasizes — to film the death scenes of her character in the Les Misérables movie. According to The Daily Mirror, Hathaway has to lose “16lb in less than 20 days” and drop from being a British size 10 to a size 6 (from an American size 6 to a size 2).
So much (huge sigh) for awareness about eating disorders and efforts to teach adolescents to accept and take pride in their bodies as they are, and not seek to diet themselves into “properly” Hunger Games and Les Miz thinness.
The Hunger Games has legions of fans in no small part because of Katniss, the kind of fearless, independent, able-to-survive-in-an-apocalypse, kicka** heroine long favored by girls. Over-emphasis on her looks, and of those of the actress playing Katniss, makes it clearer than ever why girls — why we — need such characters as role models.
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Photo from Eckhart Public Library