Dec 152013

This is a Red Bull themed bar/café in a shopping mall in Vienna. I’ve taken the photo from two floors above, when I was there to see “Catching Fire“, the second part of the Hunger Games trilogy.

It’s interesting how good this movie is and how much the whole thing must have been conceived with a movie in mind. You see, normally a movie after a book only works by changing major things, omitting important parts of the story, and most of all by completely changing the pace.

One of the best examples in recent times was, what Peter Jackson did with the Lord Of The Rings universe. Part one of the book trilogy, “The Fellowship of the Ring”, starts out very, very slowly. Admittedly it was the first long book that I ever read in English, therefore I may have been slow myself, but about the first quarter of the book is what I always called “A Guide to English Trees”. Tolkien describes the Shire in incredible detail, and by doing so, he roots his characters. In the movie it takes you 20 or 30 minutes through Bree and to Weathertop. It’s all there, but it is too fast. Much too fast.

The second part of the book is paced differently. The story is set and now there is some very linear action going on. In the movie I always felt this was the most convincing part.

The third part has a similar problem as the first, though there I already expected it, and of course it’s the part where all the action culminates. This makes it naturally suited for a special effect-heavy fantasy movie.

The other example is The Hobbit. Here Jackson had even more money, even more and better animation technology, but instead of an epic high-fantasy trilogy, he had only a short children’s fairy tale to work with. That does not mean I don’t like Jackson’s movies, to the contrary, I’m going to see “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” one of the next days, and I’m pretty sure I will enjoy it. It illustrates my point though: making a movie after a book frequently changes the experience completely, some rare times even for better, much more often for much worse.

“Catching Fire” changes the first half of the book, and it does so for better. When I read the books, I found the first half of the middle part of the trilogy unnecessarily slow and slightly boring. It’s not the same kind of slow as in Tolkien’s books. It does not teach anything, it is not enchanting, it does not pull you into something, it’s just – slow.

The movie works perfectly though. It compresses the first part, but that compression is fine, nothing is lost, because there was no abundance of detail to begin with. On the other hand, while I found the end of the book anticlimactic, it works pretty well in the movie. It’s just as if the whole book had been written with an eventual movie in mind. Which may well be.

One of my associations triggered by this image is that of candy. Thus the title, “Candy Everybody Wants“, by the 10,000 Maniacs. Hear it on YouTube.

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