“I never felt we had to pull our punches”
balance Katniss’s feelings about everything that’s happened,” Jacobson says. “There’s the fact that Peeta is left behind and then the people who created this whole strategy she wasn’t a part of now have this expectation for her to be the face of this revolution. What’s expected of you and what you are capable of may not be the same thing, yet you have to find a way to step up.” Lawrence concurs and adds enthusiastically that Jennifer “knocked it out of the park” finding the right nuance of vulnerability and rising strength as Katniss comes into her own power again in Part One.
On the purely visual end of the creative spectrum, the Mockingjay films have given Lawrence the opportunity to put his own stamp on the world- building of Panem especially through District 13, a completely new location for the film series. “It was fun to figure out how 13 works and how that would affect how the movie looks,” the director explains. “On Catching Fire I used a lot of reference especially for the games. I looked at a lot of war movies that took place in jungles like Vietnam stories from Apocalypse Now, Platoon and even WWII films like The Thin Red Line. For this one, I don’t think there was anything specific that I used as a reference. Most of the research was done to figure out how certain things work. Because a large bulk of it takes place in District 13, it was figuring out what that system would be like, how that civilization would work and how they would have it laid out. It was fun to work with the production designer [ Philip Messina] on creating a schematic for all of 13 so we had the sense of the geography. We looked at aircraft carriers, which are these self- contained cities, and how they are laid out so that’s where a lot of our reference came from.”
Lawrence says he’s particularly excited for fans of the books to see how they’ve chosen to bring the claustrophobic underground environs of District 13 to life. “Not all of it is all that grey,” Lawrence laughs. “Some of it is. We are talking about a civilization that lives in what was a graphite mine in an old nuclear facility so it’s not the most colourful of places. But you are also in a place where people want to make their lives decent. So we were able to play with light and colour to create District 13’ s version of daytime/ nighttime, so it’s not just ugly, green fluorescent lighting that just exists 24 hours a day down there.”
fire is catching
With another year of post production work still ahead for Lawrence on Mockingjay: Part Two as soon as Part One is locked, Jacobson muses on how they plan to handle the dark events that transpire for Katniss and those closest to her when war erupts in the final installment. Readers know the graphic set pieces to come that will be painful to watch played out, but certainly can’t be lost from the narrative. Asked if they’ve chosen to soften any of the material, Jacobson only says, “For me, I’ve always found my concerns and the concerns of the fans are always aligned because I am a huge fan. So [ story] decisions have come pretty organically. What always grounds these movies is the way in which Katniss experiences these events. When you so deeply feel a character because you are seeing things through her eyes, the intensity is always there so I never felt we’ve had to pull our punches ever.”
Why are the films such a phenomenon? Jacobson says they are striving to capture the spirit of the books in a way that makes the movies resonate with a broad spectrum of audiences. And they will finish the cinematic saga the same way. “Jennifer’s many- sided qualities as an actor and how much dimension she has invites anybody in,” Jacobson explains. “You can be 15 or 50 and you feel for her all the same. Or you can be with your first love or in a 25- year relationship and still connect with how hard it can be to be pulled in different directions the way that [ Katniss] is. We’re making these movies so they are as rich and satisfying for an adult audience as they are for the original young adults who made them so popular.” The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One is released on Friday 21 November.
Katniss was the only one that couldn’t remember the Cub Scout promise.
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