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It’s no secret at this point that I have an infinite number of things to say about The Hunger Games, but the DVD/Blu-ray of Mockingjay Part 1 comes out today, so that is the topic du jour. Go buy it right now and watch on a nonstop loop all weekend long. Hopefully you’re as excited to get your copy as I was to get mine.
There is so much stuff in the Special Features on this DVD that provide a ton of great details about how the movie was made, and you’ll have to watch everything for yourself since I can’t possibly discuss it all, but I can give you what I consider to be the highlights!
I only bring this up because I was glad to see that the all white propaganda films featuring Snow, Peeta and Johanna were used again. They were such a cool piece of marketing, but since none of that footage was in the actual movie, using it for the Main Menu on the DVD was a good way to bring it back.
I love audio commentaries. Love them. I don’t know why, maybe because they feel more like a conversation about the movie than the back and forth interview style of most behind-the-scenes featurettes. The commentary for MJ1 features director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson, who discuss everything from fun facts, filmmaking techniques, and even some clues as to what we might see in Part 2. Some of my favorite tidbits:
– Francis likes to start the movies with a shot of a solitary and damaged Katniss.
– Sam Claflin was chosen as Finnick because he could pull off both the fun, charming side as well as the damaged side of the character.
– The sound of what is referred to several times as “ancient strings” were created by old instruments and show up several times in the score in order to add a kind of haunting quality. One example is the scene where Gale talks about the Capitol bombing District 12. I have no experience playing instruments myself and am not well versed in music but even so, each moment where these strings showed up were moments that I really loved in the score even the first time I watched the movie.
– Two different cats were used for Buttercup: one for when he was being held and one for his “action” scenes (like when he chases after the beam of light during the District 13 bombing).
– Katniss’ dream about Peeta coming to check on her after a nightmare just like he did on the Victory Tour was actually an exact replica of that scene in Catching Fire. It was shot with the same angles and the same camera lenses, and cut together in the exact same way. The only change is the location.
– The scene where Katniss is shown the Mockingjay outfit that Cinna designed for her was actually meant for Plutarch, not Effie. It was one of the few scenes that Philip Seymour Hoffman had left to film when he died. Production was shut down for a few days after his death, and this scene was shot on only the second day back.
– Obviously the lyrics for “The Hanging Tree” came directly from the book, but Francis Lawrence asked the band The Lumineers to write the melody.
– The metal cages that Gale, Boggs, and the rest of the rescue team come across in the Tribute Center where Peeta, Johanna, and Annie are being held were based on the design of cages that the production team found in a creepy veterinary testing clinic.
– Ending the movie with the “cut to black” right after Boggs knocks out Peeta to stop him from strangling Katniss was actually considered for a while.
– President Coin’s speeches get stronger throughout the movie. In her first one her speaking style is very stilted and she’s holding a piece of paper in front of her. By comparison, in her speech in the last scene of the movie she’s yelling and reveling in the applause.
Some of the deleted scenes were released ahead of the DVD, so you may have already seen the one where Effie intervenes in the application of Katniss’ makeup, as well as the one where Haymitch and Katniss confront each other about Peeta being captured.
A lot of the deleted scenes are short, but still they contain lots of detail, my favorite being Katniss watching a District 13 citizen having their daily schedule tattooed onto their arm. Even though it didn’t make it into the movie it’s encouraging to see that the filmmakers are paying attention to the little things.
Two of these scenes really stood out for me. The first being another scene that was released early, the conversation between Snow and Peeta.
I so wish this scene could have stayed in the movie, but I can also see why it wouldn’t really fit or be totally necessary. Snow telling Peeta, “The sooner these uprisings are put to rest, the sooner you’ll see your home again” while knowing full well that it’s already been bombed to rubble and that Peeta’s entire family has been killed makes me hate him even more, which I did not think was humanly possible.
My other favorite was a scene called “Hummingbirds.” Katniss and Gale visit Beetee while he’s observing hummingbirds that District 13 have been using to study aerodynamics. Beetee asks Katniss if she thinks she could hit one of them with an arrow, but she hasn’t really thought about it because they don’t have any meat on them. Gale and Beetee get into a discussion that boils down to the idea that you could come up with a way to kill any animal if you’re able to guess what its instincts and reactions will be. It’s an eerie, subtle set up for Part 2 when (spoiler alert fans who haven’t read the books) Beetee and Gale come up with the idea for a secondary bomb that will kill the people- including Prim- who come to the aid of those harmed after a first bomb is dropped. It’s a scene that wouldn’t pay off until the end of the next movie so it makes sense to cut it, but it’s a sober reminder of what this story is about.
For those who are fascinated by the decision making and the production of everything you see in these movies, the 8-part documentary “The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of MJ1” has so much information. These clips just scratch the surface of the information that the fans learn.
The clip below is a preview of “Straight from the Heart: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman,” a feature where the cast and crew talk about what a wonderful person Philip Seymour Hoffman was, how tremendously talented he was, and how much he’ll be missed.
In addition to the music video for “Yellow Flicker Beat,” the song that Lorde wrote for the movie and that plays during the credits, there is also a feature where Lorde talks about her song as well as the process of curating the soundtrack for the movie. I have to admit that while I liked some of the songs on the soundtrack for the first movie, I haven’t been the biggest fan of them since then. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to hear her talk about her process.
Unfortunately the only Special Features available with the DVD are the commentary and the deleted scenes, while the Blu-ray has those features as well as the documentary, Philip Seymour Hoffman tribute, music video, and the feature on Lorde.
Bottom line: there’s an outrageous amount of cool stuff to watch, so cancel all your weekend plans Hunger Games fans and settle in!
Will you be rushing out to Target/Best Buy/Whatever to buy your copy of Mockingjay Part 1? What part are you most excited about?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is available today on Blu Ray and DVD and Digital HD. Buy it here!
Thank you to Lionsgate for the review copy.