A Tribute to The Hunger Games

As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.”  Katniss Everdeen is the iconic heroine of The Hunger Games, both a wildly popular and groundbreaking book and movie.  Author Suzanne Collins seamlessly weaves politics, history, philosophy and social commentary into a young adult action-adventure novel about a dystopian society, so it’s no surprise she also has a lot to say about the role of appearance in this horrifying future. Oscar-nominated costume designer Judianna Makovsky (for her stunning work in Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) was given the herculean task of bringing the style of The Hunger Games to the silver screen.  For the past week, we’ve highlighted some of the film’s most memorable moments, looks and costumes.  The Hunger Games begins in the home of Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence) in District 12 – a depressed mining area in former North America.  Katniss spends most of her time hunting with her best friend, Gale (played by Liam Hemsworth, pictured, above left) and providing sustenance for their families, since their fathers were killed in the mine.  Makovsky told Vogue, “We looked at a lot of photographs of coal mining districts from the turn of the century to the 1950s, because we wanted it to have a very American feel.”  The people of Katniss’s district are starving and struggling to survive, so they’re not very worried about looking good.  Makovsky continues, “We wanted to make a very serious impact, and color was very important – to keep it mostly gray or blue… very cold because coal leaves a black dust everywhere.”  The lack of color throughout District 12 certainly gives it a bone-chilling look, and makes the over-the-top publicist Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks, pictured, above right) stick out even more when she comes to collect the male and female tributes for the games.  While the children of District 12 appear in fifty shades of grey, like Katniss’s sister, Primrose (pictured, above left), Effie appears in bright magenta, crazy makeup and a powdered wig.  Makovsky was inspired by the Elizabethan era, John Galliano, and Alexander McQueen, to create the frivolous and frightening citizens of the Capitol.  She told Vogue, “I just thought it would be funny if these people, who have such a vicious streak in them, are sort of covered in flowers and ruffles.”  When Katniss sacrifices herself by volunteering to take the place of Prim, she and the male tribute of District 12, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), leave for the capital city of Panem.  They make their first impression on the Capitol by arriving in a glorious chariot ride, hand in hand (pictured, above).  Along with Effie, Katniss and Peeta are accompanied into hell by the only living victor from District 12, Haymitch Abernathy (played by the fantastic Woody Harrelson).  Haymitch (pictured, below left) is a drunk, and is living proof happiness doesn’t always come with winning… Makovsky told EW, “He had won the game, he had money… We didn’t want him to be the cliché filthy, dirty drunk. There’s a bit of a dandy about him. He puts on a bit of a front so you don’t really know who he is… he knows how to play the games. He’s done it before. And we thought he would dress for the capital. So he has a little bit of Edwardian cut to his clothes.”  In the days before entering the arena, Katniss and Peeta have to show off to the Capitol, too, to gain sponsors, who can pay for items, like food and medicine when they’re in the arena.  They also face several days of “training,” which might as well just being a showing-off session to their competitors… Each tribute wears a black tracksuit with grey and red piping and their district number adorned on their sleeves (pictured, above).  Following this physical training, they also take part in televised interviews with TV host Caesar Flickerman (played by Stanley Tucci).  Waiting to meet with him, the future killers are lined up in different shades of pastels, like lethal Easter eggs.  Katniss and Peeta stand out, once again, in a coordinating gown of flames and a dark suit – just like coal and fire.  But it turns out, there is a burning passion inside of Peeta Mellark, too.  Sexy duo Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson weren’t the only men who got to wear significant costumes.  Katniss’s stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) makes her come alive through clothing, but he dresses pretty simply, himself, in a black Lurex Prada sweater and his famous gold eyeliner.  Stanley Tucci is completely redone as TV host Caesar Flickerman (pictured, below left), with false teeth, bright blue hair and a sparkly suit to match.  And according to the Washington Post, even President Snow (played by the highly under-appreciated Donald Sutherland, pictured, below right) had costumes with deep secrets.  If you notice, he wears a white clergy shirt underneath his suit made of sharkskin – it’s obvious why he’s wearing clothing made of a vicious animal, but that’s certainly saying something about religious oppression/manipulation by putting him in a clergy collar…  When Katniss and Peeta are finally thrust into the Games, it seems their getups match, once again.  In the book, all of the tributes wear identical outfits in the arena, but that didn’t work on film.  Makovsky told EW, “It was my problem to find a look that looked good on boys and girls, and from kids that are age 12 to age 18… All the jackets were specifically dyed – that took forever just to find colors that would read in the woods.”  Apparently, the jackets read quite well – because they’re now available to purchase online!  Between Katniss’s bow-and-arrow skills, and the upcoming Pixar film, Brave, we’re sure archery lessons are going to go through the roof, but that isn’t the only thing from The Hunger Games that is catching fire… Not only are the arena jackets for sale, so are the training uniforms, backpacks, makeup, and numerous mockingjay accessories on Amazon, Etsy and Cafe Press, among many other outlets.  Despite the fictional novel’s futuristic element, Suzanne Collins has created one of the most realistic female characters of all-time.  This is a strong girl who knows herself, and isn’t ashamed of who she is – a rarity among many “heroines” that Hollywood and publishers seem to churn out.  Katniss Everdeen is a hunter, sister, daughter, tribute, rebel, friend, soldier, symbol, survivor – she IS the mockingjay.  And this bird isn’t going to stop singing any time soon…

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