Last night I saw Mockingjay Part 1: The beginning of the end. I walked out of the theater feeling like I had been shredded from the inside. This was a very emotional read for me, and the film was no different.
Yes, I cried. I am a hardcore sap, especially when it comes to characters I’ve been with for years. When the book, Mockingjay first came out, I hated it, and part of me hated the movie too. I felt that there was too much confusion, the romance didn’t go the way it should have (this is not a commentary on Peeta v. Gale, I’m talking about how the story unfolds), and what upset me more than anything else was that no one protected Katniss.
Katniss is not a champion, she’s not a victor, and she is not the Mockingjay. She is a survivor and a protector. She’s also a scared teenager, and people seem to forget that. I know she did it on purpose, but the teacher in me will always resent Suzanne Collins for never giving Katniss someone to protect her through Mockingjay. The film reiterated everything I felt reading the book. Katniss is isolated in this cold, dark place. Her mother and sister have become independent, Gale has drifted towards new interests, and everyone else is leaning on her for something.
The one exception here is Haymitch. Haymitch was someone that Katniss looked up to tentatively as a mentor. He definitely had a larger agenda getting Katniss out of the arena in Catching Fire, but he is the only one who still sees her as a girl and not a symbol. There were two scenes in the movie that were brilliant: when Haymitch advocates for Katniss unscripted, and when he tells her about the rescue mission to save Peeta and the other victors. Haymitch is a genuinely solid human being.
Katniss is a really strong person. She’s a strong character and that does not stem from her undying need to save the world. That was never her goal. Katniss sees the inhumanity in The Capitol and wants people to stop dying and to stop dying “because of her.” This is why the scenes where she has incredibly heart-tearing breakdowns are so important. There are so many movies about characters who carry the weight on their shoulders and barely break or never have a moment of weakness. This has been something that has definitely been lost in other book to movie adaptions. (Even the amount of Harry’s lows in The Order of the Phoenix was lost to some extent.) Katniss’s strength comes from her ability to cry, feel pain, worry, doubt herself. Without the scenes where she completely looses it, Katniss would not be a real human being.
This movie also reminded me why I dislike Gale. Gale while in District 12 hunted to feed his large family. He had tried to plan to leave with Katniss’s family and his own several times. In a way he was the male version of Katinss. Until the games. Katniss turned into someone who wanted to protect those on her side. Gale turned into someone who wanted to kill everyone on the other side. He allowed District 13 to turn him into the perfect soldier. That may not be bothersome to some people, but Gale’s manipulation of Katniss was not okay. Katniss is clearly not in a good place so when she kisses Gale and he just says “I knew you would do that.” The reason being that he was in pain, was not only manipulative but cruel. She was completely mixed up with her emotions and he brought up their previous kiss, apparently knowing she would do it again.
Another topic the movie brought to my attention was Finnick’s story. I’m going to be honest, when I first read the series, I, unlike most, did not automatically attach to Finnick. I don’t know why, but when I saw the movie, I did fall in love with the character much like the many people who had when they read the series. While I read Mockingjay, I felt it was a little confusing and a lot of the topics kind of got lost because I couldn’t follow along completely. This is where I felt the movie helped a lot. I’m not sure if it was my confusion while reading or that the movie made it more prevalent, but when Finnick spoke about the sexual abuse he went through while he was “employed” by The Capitol, it was way more powerful in the movie than it had been in the book. Whether this is because of how amazing Sam Claflin is, or the creative team, it caused me to pay more attention to what Finnick was saying on the TV screen than what was happening in the actual scene that was going on. Not only does it reveal the horrors of The Capitol, but it helps to understand Finnick as a character on a much larger level.
This was a beautifully done movie. It followed the plot of the book so well, but it would not be what it was without the amazing cast. They understand the characters and the story and I couldn’t have pictured this movie going any other way. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the movie went a little further with the story than I would’ve thought. (I assumed it would just end with Katniss getting strangled but I guess I’m just a pessimist.) I cried from the first minute to the last and then stayed past the credits to see the teaser for the next movie (which was very similar for the teasers to the last movies.) Overall there’s nothing I would’ve added or taken out from this film. I was very satisfied and cannot wait until next November!
Written by Kayla Farber and Deanna Farber