Gladiators stay hungry

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2012, 12:00am


The public have always hungered for entertainment. It serves as a diversion, a way to let your daily worries evaporate - for a time, anyway.

For centuries, the fight game has been a major source of entertainment; a paying public gather to watch trained combatants duel to the death - all for their viewing pleasure.

It's no wonder author Suzanne Collins uses the human psyche's natural instinct for survival as one of the major themes in her best-selling book The Hunger Games. That is, survival as a form of entertainment.

It's no wonder Lionsgate studios was so eager to purchase the film rights, knowing very well that buried deep within us all is a behavioural mechanism for self-preservation.

From the start, Collins believed Lionsgate would be a great fit for her story, as they seemed committed to keeping the spirit of the book. She was particularly satisfied with the studio's accessibility. 'Everyone we needed to get the movie going was right there on the phone,' she says. 'The studio was small enough for that to be possible and I felt it would be our best chance of seeing the story become a film.'

Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future where North America no longer exists as it does today. The area is occupied by the nation of Panem, ruled by a metropolis called the Capitol. Each year, within the 12 enslaved districts, one teenage boy and girl are randomly selected to compete in the Hunger Games, a nationally televised event where participants (called 'tributes') fight for the right to live. The Games were created as a form of punishment for a failed uprising decades before. They end with only one survivor - a person that is promised fame and fortune.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in District 12 with her younger sister, Primrose (Willow Shields), who she's taken care of her entire life. On the day of the annual selection, Primrose is chosen as the female tribute. Knowing her sister's inevitable fate if she competes, the intrepid Katniss volunteers to take her place. The male tribute is none other than her childhood friend Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).

The two are carted off to the Capitol to receive battle training. There she befriends Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), a former Hunger Games victor, who helps her to hone her instincts and skills in archery so that she's prepared for the ultimate showdown with the other tributes. She must rely on her strength, wit and training as her tools for survival.

However, once she's thrown into the arena, survival is no longer her only motive. There's something larger at stake - and she's willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good.

Director Gary Ross knew it was not only essential to get inside Katniss' heart. 'The audience has to be in Katniss' head,' Ross says. 'You know what she knows. You don't know more. You're in this experience 100 per cent with her.'

The Hunger Games opens on March 22