Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Every Revolution Begins With A Spark

Every Revolution Begins With... A Spark.

Remember who your real enemy is. This is what Katniss Everdeen, a young teenage girl plagued by trial and poverty, must force herself to never forget. Panem is a city in which there are 12 districts; some rich, some poor, some poorer. And all are ruled by the Capitol, a government that reeks of tyranny. Every year, this Capitol puts on a district-wide event called The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a televised fight-to-the-death in which two randomly chosen teenagers from every district must compete.  For years now, the lower classes have rolled with the Captiol's punches. They stand down, they abide by the rules of the Games, and they avoid divergence. But what if one day, these people decide that they want change? What if they truly cannot take anymore of the Capitol's oppression? In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, a revolution begins to stir, one that is lead by a single spark of inspiration none other than Katniss Everdeen.

In the Official Trailer for the movie, the soundtrack begins with a melancholy approach, one that is very monotone, almost expressionless as if to portray the persecution felt by the people of Panem. The music involves one single piano note, repeated over and over again. The first scene in the trailer shows Katniss hugging her younger sister, Primrose. This is the movie's way of haunting us with the deep-rooted strife that is about to come alive. We know that something is coming, something big, something bad, most likely. And so the music slowly starts to get louder, and louder, and faster. In Everything's An Argument, Gianetti explains that "loud sounds tend to be forceful, intense, and threatening. Quiet sounds strike us as delicate, hesitant, and often weak. These same principles apply to tempo. The faster the tempo of sound, the greater the tension produced in the listener." This gradual rising action is exactly what the music in the trailer, so far, is trying to accomplish. As the music starts to get louder, Primrose speaks to Katniss. "Since the last Games, something is different. I can see it. Hope..." Is this a credible statement for Primrose to make? Why yes it is. The following images presented to us are those of people raising their hands in the air, with confidence, and determination. There are off-screen sounds occurring now as well. People are yelling, swords are being drawn and clashed together. The background music continues to grow in potency. For these reasons, the ethos presented by the trailer is fierce.

Sound effects tend to express our internal emotions, complimented and stirred up by images put forth by the film. I think this is the overall goal of The Hunger Games: Catching FireThe "film composers connect the spirit and theme of the movie" ("Eye On The Oscars: Song & Score" A22) through our senses. Right off the bat, we are thrown into harsh world with a several characters stuck in a really crappy situation. We are spoken to in soft, hushed voices, and are lulled with very deep, purposeful sounds. Then everything seems to pick up intensity. Characters begin to quarrel, the music gets faster and more impromptu, and by the time the trailer is over... we want to go out and see this film. For all of these reasons, the pathos here is spot-on, and could not get much better. The overall pathos is further strengthened by the words of the characters. "You fought very hard in the games, Miss Everdeen. But they were games. Would you like to be in a real war? Imagine thousands of your people dead. Your loved ones... gone." President Snow of Panem stops speaking, and at this point, the music reaches its climax, and stops. Simultaneously, the scene cuts to black. This is a powerful moment in the movie trailer, because absolute silence coupled with absolute darkness gives the viewer a sense of emptiness, a symbol of the impending death of Katniss Everdeen's family and friends. This feeling is characterized as an absolute stasis, a sort of suspension in time that keeps the viewer breathless, and on the edge of their seat. "Absolute silence in a sound film tends to call attention to itself. Any significant stretch of silence creates an eerie vacuum--a sense of something impending, about to burst." 

As a final note, I'd like to talk about the lack of popular songs present in the trailer of the movie. There were absolutely no vocals. At all. Why would the creators of the trailer do such a thing? I would have to guess that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has enough appeal to do without contemporary pop songs being thrown at us. The director wants us to come see the movie for the movie itself, which is  plausible. I'd like to think that most fans coming to see the movie are also fans of the books written by Suzanne Collins. In any case, I'd also like to throw out there the fact that the trailer and the official movie soundtrack are on two completely different levels. Every single song on the soundtrack are written, specifically for the movie, by popular artists (Lorde, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Ellie Goulding). It's very interesting that the director would hold back on these songs for the actual movie. I think it's mainly for marketing purposes, so that people come out of the movie theatre with their head filled with quite a few solid new hits. The above video is a cover of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" sung by Lorde. The song is very powerful; sad, but inspiring. It is slower than the original, and darker in tone. In a song like this one, the "sound effects can also serve symbolic functions, which are usually determined by the dramatic context." (Gianetti 207) The dramatic context illustrated by Lorde is the entire world of Panem. To me, the idea of a war ties in with logos, and does so successfully. In fact, the original song of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" was written by Tears For Fears during the nuclear crisis of the Cold War. The logic of a society going through hard times, and learning to fight for itself, is a logical one. The music sucks us into the terrifying world of The Hunger Games. It is a world in which angst has built up in a society over many years. It is a world with the anthem of a people standing together as one, with hot blood pumping angrily through veins, and salty tears caught between dirty eyelashes. A cultural revolution is coming, and by now we all know it's catching fire.

I bestow a rating of 5 pickles for the successful handling of the three appeals, in addition to an audio that gives both tremendous emotion and meaning to the movie as a whole.


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