Characterisation

Katniss Everdeen

Katniss Everdeen is the main character in the film. She’s is a strong-willed, street-wise 16-year-old girl that had to grow up early due to the premature death of her father, her mother’s frail condition and the brutal lifestyle of the slums of District 12. She’s honed her skills as a hunter by stalking game in the forest near her home; she’s been forced to hunt out of a need to provide her younger sister and mother with food.

Katniss’s world is rocked when her 12-year-old sister’s name is chosen during the District 12 Hunger Games Lottery; she volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in place of her sister and is hauled off to compete in the do or die competition, a brutal sport where 24 children and teenagers are forced to kill one another to be named the winner. By winning, they will be granted fortune, fame and safety from the totalitarian Capital, the rulers of the land and the host of the games.

Katniss volunteering as tribute.

“You really want to know how to stay alive? You get people to like you!”

The shooting of the apple symbolise her courage and strength.

Peeta Mellark

Peeta is the second unfortunate soul from District 12 cast into the world of The Hunger Games. He’s the quiet son of a baker, and is known to Katniss, but they are not and have never been friends. Peeta holds several secrets that unfold over the course of The Hunger Games.

Peeta is clever and understands what he needs to do to keep himself and Katniss alive. He has charisma and social skills and he uses them to charm the audience.

Listen to what Peeta says in this clip: ‘I just don’t want them to change me…I just don’t want to be another piece in their game…I just wish I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me’  This is a powerful statement which shows that how he wants to retain his former self, his gentle humanity, in the games. He does not want to become one of them. He wants to be able to keep his dignity.

CINNA

His Team:

The cold, clinical ‘hospital’ like scene where Katniss is being treated inhumanely by Cinna’s prep team. There are a series of fast paced editing close-up and medium shots of Katniss being showered, waxed, snipped with scissors and scrubbed with a brush that cuts to an ECU of a beautician with exaggerated eyelashes, that make her appear robotic and inhumane. She callously tweezers Katniss’s eyebrows subjecting her to some pain. A hand-held camera and fast-paced editing makes the shots appear erratic, to reflect Katniss’s feelings. She is uncomfortable with not only the procedures taking place, but the cold and inhumane mannerisms of the beauticians.

Katniss says What’s that? What’s that?’ repeatedly when she becomes aware that two of them are talking about her but not to her. There mannerisms appear arrogant, haughty and conceited as the male in a snooty manner and raise of eyebrows says ‘Oh we were just saying we might have to hose you down again before we take you to Cinna’. The words ‘hose you down’ reflect his feelings that Katniss, who is from the districts, is inferior to the people of the capitol. This is echoed by the female who with a cold look, turns to stare at Katniss, as if disgusted by her audacity to speak to them. Their feelings of superiority over Katniss is reinforced by the low-angle point-of-view camera that shows Katniss looking up at them. If this was a more objective medium or long shot, the impression would change and Katniss’s feelings of ill and inhumane treatment would be less apparent.

Contrast this with how beauticians in our world treat people. There is usually friendliness, conversation and a genuine attempt to make the ‘client’ feel comfortable.

Contrast this again to how Cinna treats Katniss:

First of all, his appearance, with his plain black simple outfit, contrasts heavily with the gaudy bright costumes worn in the montage (a series of shots cut together to condense time and space) sequence seen just after the tributes, Katniss and Peeta arrive in Panem. His make-up (a little gold eyeshadow, to give the appearance he buys in to the capitol lifestyle), hair (normal, crew cut) and mannerisms (gentle, friendly and nurturing) contrast with his prep team (you must show how if using this point). Our first impression of Cinna is his physical appearance. Cinna immediately breaks Katniss’s stereotype of the grotesque and extravagant Capitol citizen; who wear excessive make-up, such as the females who have a strange colour skin and exaggerated spider like eyelashes. He is friendly and immediately tries to make Katniss feel comfortable. His empathy, where he gives the impression that he understands how she feels, in apparent when he says the words:

‘That was one of the bravest things I have ever seen. With your sister…’

Cinna approaches the bed that Katniss is lying on. Before Cinna arrives, she there is a long-shot of Katniss lying on the bed, which makes her resembles a corpse in a morgue. That reflects the inhumane treatment of her. They treated her as if she was a dead body being prepared for burial.

‘My name is Cinna…I am sorry this has happened to you’. He introduces himself which his team do not care to do, and his words and gentle tone of voice suggest his genuine empathy for Katniss’s situation. This is further emulated a close-up shot reverse shot of Cinna looking at Katniss, and Katniss looking at Cinna. Their eyes connect. The eyes are symbolic and are said to be ‘windows to the soul’ and this accentuates Cinna’s integrity, or trustworthiness to the audience. Katniss immediately feels comfortable in his presence which is proven later during her interview with Caesar Flickerman when she seeks his face in the crowd for reassurance.

Cinna realizes the power of appearance versus reality. He understands that he holds the key to Katniss’s success in the Games. His empathy and understanding of Katniss’s need to create a persona, suggests again that he is not the usual shallow citizen of Panem. He says ‘I am here to help you in any way I can’ which Katniss replies with, ‘Most people just congratulate me’.  The people of the Capitol, seem to live a disconnected reality, as they look upon the people of the districts as being both inferior to them, and privileged to be able to have the chance at glory. According to their reality, being a tribute gives them the chance to win honour for their districts (use the evidence here of the propaganda video shown at The Reaping). To the people of the districts, and as is apparent by Cinna’s comment, I don’t see the point in that’,  the reality of the Hunger Games is the brutal murder of twenty three children.

‘We are going to take you out and show you off to the world’

‘So you want to make me look pretty’ A close-up shot reveals Katniss’s disappointment when she momentarily looks down, as she thinks he is just wanting to dress her up and make her look attractive to the audience.

Then a close-up reverse shot of Cinna, in a gentle but affirming tone, where he says the words I am here to help you make an impression’. His emphasis of the word impression shows his recognition of the need for her to create a persona that identifies with the viewing public to allow her survival in the arena. He says ‘I just think somebody that brave’ and at this point he gently plays with her hair, reflecting not only his nurturing nature but how he parallels Katniss’s nurturing of Prim. He then says ..’shouldn’t be dressed up in some stupid costume, now should they?’ which is followed by a gentle toned, trusting ‘I hope not’ from a reassured and smiling Katniss. The camera shows us this interaction with a series of close-up, shot reverse shot and two shots, to keep the close connection and intimacy of their relationship.This is a rare glimpse at Katniss’s soft and gentle side which usually only appears when Prim is around.

At this point the camera cuts to a medium shot of Glimmer dressed in an outrageous ‘stupid costume’ of shocking pink jewels and faux fur, looking vainly in the mirror. This  accentuates the contrast between Katniss and Glimmer and Cinna and Glimmer’s designer, heightening the realization that both pose a challenge to the norm. Foreshadowing (hinting at what will happen later in the plot) that Katniss and Cinna pose a formidable team that against the odds, will win the Hunger Games.

Ross, the director, effectively copies Collin’s successful creation of the character of Cinna by immediately giving the impression that Cinna is a likeable, sympathetic and complex character, with a hidden depths. He is far removed from the typical stereotypical characters like Caesar Flickerman or Effie Trinkett who have no inner depth and act like puppets of President Snow (if you use any of this you have to prove it with evidence, otherwise it is only an unsupported point).

RUE

Rue becomes a substitute for Prim which explains how she connects quickly with Katniss who wants to protect and look after her. We feel very sad when Rue dies, not only does it activate our sadness and make us as an audience empathise with the characters, it makes the people from the capitol and districts empathise as well. This gives them HOPE and that is dangerous!

Katniss is angry at Rue’s death and wants to show respect for the innocent young girl who has had her life snatched away from her in a horrific fashion. She does not want her to be just another victim and gives her a beautiful funeral. This connects with the song she sung to Prim to ease her nightmare: “A bed of grass. A soft green pillow…” She is giving Rue a “soft green pillow” to ease the nightmare that is the games.

This connects with what Peeta said the night before they go into the arena:

Peeta Mellark: I don’t know. Turn me into something I’m not. I just don’t wanna be another piece in their game, you know?
Katniss Everdeen: You mean you won’t kill anyone?
Peeta Mellark: No. I’m sure I would, just like anybody else when the time came.
But, you know, I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me. You know, If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me. Does that make any sense?

Katniss wanted to show that Rue is not ‘another piece in their game’. She realises that she can make a difference by giving Rue respect in death. She challenges the power of the Capitol by making people see the reality of what is happening. They are human beings that deserve the respect of humans. The inhumanness of the Hunger Games is epitomised through her small reminder of their humanity, when she brings feelings back in to the games. She sparks the anger of the district not just by the respect sign that she shows them, but making them stop and feel the reality of the situation. She shows them that she cares and that is enough to become the catalyst for change.

After blowing up the Career Tributes’ stockpile, Katniss finds Rue in a trap, as she helps her to get free one of the boy tributes throws a spear which hits Rue in the chest, Katniss quickly kills the boy tribute with an arrow and tries to comfort the dying Rue in her arms]
Katniss Everdeen: It’s okay. You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re okay.
Rue: Did you blow up the food?

You have to win rue
Katniss Everdeen: Every bit of it.
Rue: Good. You have to win. Close up below.

You have to win rue 2
[Katniss looks up at the dead tribute boy who had shot the spear at Rue]
Rue: Can you sing?
Katniss Everdeen: Okay.
[Katniss holds the dying Rue and starts crying and sings to her in her last moments, after Rue dies Katniss covers her body with flowers and gives a special salute to district 11, Rue’s district]

This simple act reminds the audience, that they are human beings and not just there for their entertainment. It also becomes the catalyst for change as it reminds the people of District 11, where Rue comes from, that they are badly treated by the Capitol. District 11 is one of the poorer districts, right after District 12 in the nation of Panem. Their industry is agriculture; orchards, fields of wheat, and cotton surround the district. Almost everything they grow goes to the Capitol, despite their starvation; if any citizen of District 11 is caught eating any of the crops, they are to be whipped in public. Its inhabitants are described as having dark brown skin as described in the physical traits of Rue, Thresh.

District 11 tributes are usually underfed and unprepared for the games, and generally place low. However, some have occupational skills that are useful in the arena, such as Rue, who could leap between trees. Others, like Thresh, have strength because of physical labor, and the ability of both to recognize edible plants.

Katniss salutes to give respect to district 11                       District 11 citizens salute to Katniss

The District 12 respect sign is used by its residents usually at a funeral or, when they have to say thanks, lost someone they love, or just to show that the person is loved and respected by them. The sign is made when you press your three middle fingers of your left hand to your lips and then hold them out to the person, or people, that you want to show respect to. To show The Capitol that she was “not just a pawn in their games”, Katniss decorated Rue’s body with flowers which the cameras would have to show when the body was collected. In the film, after Rue’s death Katniss showed the respect sign to the cameras. At the same time the people of District 11 did the same, which sparked a riot.

Rue’s courage, tenacity, intelligence and mischievous nature is revealed when she steals Cato’s knife.

Rue on the ceiling

This causes him to lose his temper in front of the Game-maker’s and accuse Jason of stealing it.

Cato's anger when Rue steals his knife

The camera shows a high-angle close-up of Katniss looking up, then it cuts back to show Cato trying to get at Jason and being held back by the guards,  it then cuts back to the shot of Katniss looking up, before cutting to a long-shot of Rue strapped to the ceiling smirking whilst holding the knife. The camera then cuts to a medium shot of Thresh (who is also from District eleven with Rue) looking up and smiling admiringly, before shaking his head in a brotherly way, that says he has total respect for her audacity to challenge the vicious Cato. His respect for Rue is shown when he saves Katniss’s life when Clove tries to kill her at the Cornucopia. He says:

 [as Clove is about to kill Katniss, suddenly Thresh, from district 11, grabs Clove]
Thresh:
You kill her?
Clove: No!
Thresh: I heard you!
Clove: Cato!
Thresh: You said her name!
Clove: Cato!
Thresh: You said her name!
[Katniss watches in shock as Thresh kills Clove, Thresh then turns to Katniss]
Thresh:
Just this time 12! For Rue.
[Thresh leaves and Katniss quickly grabs the medicine and runs]

Thresh’s feelings for Rue are highlighted by his anger when he thinks Clove has killed her. He gives Katniss one chance ‘for Rue’, which suggests that next time he sees her he will kill her.

SENECA CRANE

The small clip of the pre-Hunger Games ‘chat show’ like interview between Seneca Crane, the Head Gamemaker, and Caesar Flickerman emphasises both the contrast between the Capitol and the districts, and reinforces the reality TV show nature of the Hunger Games that parallels the reality TV show hype in our own society.

[first lines; the Head Gamemaker is being interviewed in front of a live audience]
Seneca Crane:I think it’s our tradition.
Caesar Flickerman:Mmhmm.
Seneca Crane: It comes out of a particularly painful part of our history.
Caesar Flickerman: Yes. Yes.
Seneca Crane: But it’s been the way we’ve been able to heal. At first it was a reminder of the rebellion, it was a price the districts had to pay. But I think it has grown from that, I think it’s uh…something that knits us all together.
[the audience claps]
Caesar Flickerman: This is your third year as Gamemaker. What defines your personal signature?
[the scene cuts before we can hear his answer]

There is a sudden jump-cut to Prim screaming as she is having a nightmare about the impending games. She is now twelve and is extremely anxious as it is the first time that she will have her name put in to draw for the Reaping. The Jump-cut emphasises the fact that the Head Game-maker organises the games to attract the Capitol viewers. His unique ‘personal signature’ is the thing that makes him successful and the jump-cut to Prim’s scream shows us that this is his speciality: making people scream for the pleasure of the Capitol people.

Seneca Crane has been given a bigger part in the film than he had in the novel as it helps to accentuate the brutality of the Capitol in a way just telling Katniss’s side of the story never would.

He is influenced by Katniss’s strength, skill and courage when she impresses him during the skills evaluation in front of the Game-makers. Katniss is aware that if she scores too low the viewers will be disinterested in her, but if she scores too high she’ll be a target for the other tributes. She enters the private chamber to do her best and impress the Game-makers, but becomes enraged when they seem disinterested in her archery skills. A long, high angle shot with Seneca just visible in the corner shows Katniss ready with her bow standing watching them as they totally ignore her. She attracts their attention to her first shot by loudly saying ‘Katniss Everdeen’. Seneca Crane is then shown in a medium shot nonchalantly sipping his drink acknowledging that he will now pay attention to her. While she readies herself to take the shot, the camera cuts to a long shot of the Game-makers to show that they are watching her. She misses, and laughter is heard. The camera cuts to the Game-makers to show their indifference and laughter at her failure. Then it cuts to a side close-up of Katniss where the incredulity of her missing the shot is shown on her face. She looks back at the target which emphasises her shock at how she missed the target, when she is an expert archer. The camera cuts back to a close-up of her face and the audience can infer that it was her lack of skill in using this particular bow and arrow that caused her inaccuracy. Once she factors in the difference in weight etc, she accurately hits the target. The camera continually cuts between Katniss and the Game-makers to show that they are now completely oblivious to what she is doing and have gone back to socialising.  In an act of desperation and fury (which is shown by an ECU and a tilt of her head that infers ‘how dare they ignore me’, she then walks forward and very slightly, shakes her head at their ignorance), Katniss launches an arrow right at the succulent pig the Game-makers are snacking on. This catches their attention and, despite her thinking she screwed the whole thing up, earns her a 11 out of 12 rating. Her courage is shown by her audacity to say thank you…for your consideration’ in a tongue in cheek tone of insolence, and then bow to them.

[referring to Katniss’ high rating]
President Snow: An eleven?
Seneca Crane: She earned it.
President Snow: She shot an arrow at your head.
Seneca Crane: Well, at an apple.
President Snow: Near your head. Sit down.
[Seneca sits next to Snow]
President Snow: Seneca, why do you think we have a winner?
Seneca Crane: What do you mean?
President Snow: I mean, why do we have a winner? I mean if we just wanted to intimidate the districts why not round up twenty four at random, and execute them all at one? It would be a lot faster.
[Seneca doesn’t know what to reply and just looks at Snow]
President Snow: Hope.
Seneca Crane: Hope?
President Snow: Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.
Seneca Crane: So?
President Snow: So, contain it.
Seneca Crane: Right.

President Snow understands the danger of having someone with the potential courage and audacity of Katniss. She shows a strength of character and intelligence that could challenge his authority. He thinks Seneca should have punished her with a low score for her stunt. He sees this high score as a challenge as her audacity has been rewarded and as a result, she will recieve more attention from sponsors.

Katniss further challenges Seneca when she threatens to end her and Peeta’s life in a double suicide when they are told only one of them can win. Katniss knows that Seneca will have no choice but to let them both win, as he will face the wrath of the Capitol audience if he gives them no victor. He has to make a quick decision without thinking of the consequences:

[believing that they have won, Katniss and Peeta hug and the arena is turned to day again, they wait for confirmation and an announcement is made again]

Voice of Announcer: Attention. Attention, tributes. There’s been a slight rule change. The previous revision allowing for two victories from the same district has been revoked. Only one victor may be crowned. Good luck. And may the odds be ever in your favor.

[on hearing this Katniss and Peeta look at each other]

Peeta Mellark:Go ahead. One of us should go home. One of has to die, they have to have their victor.

Katniss Everdeen: No.

[she throws her bow and arrow down and walks towards Peeta]

Katniss Everdeen: They don’t. Why should they?

[she takes out the nightlock berries she’d taken from Fox Face’s hand earlier]

Peeta Mellark: No!

Katniss Everdeen: Trust me. Trust me.

[she gives Peeta half of the berries]

Peeta Mellark: Together?

Katniss Everdeen: Together.

Peeta Mellark: Okay. One.

Katniss Everdeen: Two.

Peeta Mellark: Three.

[just as they are about to eat the berries the voice of the announcer stops them]

Voice of Announcer: Stop! Stop! Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the winners of the 74th annual Hunger Games.

[on hearing this Katniss hugs Peeta]

Katniss’s words ‘trust me’ show her awareness of the situation.

CAESAR FLICKERMAN

Caesar is a minor character and is a symbol of all that is wrong in the society of the Capitol. His character. and Effie Trinkett’s character, are a representation of the Capitol peoples lack of empathy and connection with the reality of what is happening in the districts. They are so brainwashed by the Ideology (belief system) of the privileged in the Capitol that they cannot understand what it is like to live in the districts and be subject to the will of the Capitol people. They cannot see the inhumane treatment of the district people and how they, the people of the capitol, treat them in a cruel and unjust way. There is no empathy, which means to walk in another persons shoes and see things from their point of view.

This is made clear during the very first conversation that the audience see when he is interviewing  Seneca Crane. He does not seem very interested or sincere during his conversation (see above in Seneca Crane’s section for the full conversation). He continually turns his head away from Seneca and does not make eye contact. He seems to make a few token nods of the head muttering ‘Mmhmm’ and ‘Yes. Yes.’ but there is no understanding of the real victims in the games and how it involves the brutal murder of innocent children. They do not care and seem to believe it ‘knits’ them together. It is not a price the ‘districts had’ to pay in the past tense as they talk about it as being something that is no longer a punishment. It is a price the people from the districts still have to pay and will continue to pay until someone brings it to an end….President Snow is fully aware of how he treats the districts, he knows that for them to live in the absolute luxury, as they do in the Capitol, that the district people have to fully provide for it and pay the price by having nothing themselves.

Katniss changes the whole feeling of the games. Instead of the normal brutality they expect and have grown to love, which is clear from all the hype and excitement in the build up to the games. Remember the roar of the crowds as Peeta and Katniss arrive in Panem and gathering in the square the night before they go in to the arena?

[at the tribute parade, talking into the TV camera, commentating on the parade] Caesar Flickerman: Over one hundred thousand people craning to get a glimpse at this year’s tributes. And the sponsors get to see the tributes for the first time. The importance of this moment cannot be overstated.

Katniss brings hope and humanity. She makes them feel. She makes them care for, first of all Rue through her beautiful act of kindness to District 11, and then for herself and Peeta by showing that they too have feelings. She, with the help of Haymitch’s note to remind her (‘you call that a kiss), helps build on the phenomena that is ‘The star-crossed lovers’. Peeta, in his wisdom first uses his love of Katniss to create a hook to grab the audiences attention. Katniss then builds on this with the help of Haymitch

CONTRAST

This contrast of abject poverty versus ostentatious (over the top) luxury is emphasised throughout the film by the contrast in the  colour of costumes: washed out and devoid of colour in the districts and extreme bright colours in the capitol (NOTE: if you are writing about this in your essays, you must pick out specific pieces of evidence such as, describing Effie Trinkett’s costume and then comparing it to someone in District 12 like Katniss (when they are standing side by side on the podium for example); or how she contrasts/clashes with ALL the people in District 12 .

  

The contrast is also apparent in their possessions which are old versus new: everything in the districts is old, worn, colourless,rusty, old fashioned, and broken; whereas in the capitol it is colourful shiny, new, plastic or futuristic -see the montage section for a breakdown of the abject poverty of district 12. NOTE: You must give a detailed discription of the items you are using as evidence such as, the old buttons and the oldfashioned radio  (and how the camera shows them). In contrast the Capitol people have modern, sometimes futuristic (as many of the things they have/use

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