The Hunger Games + Dorothea Lange

What do these two have in common? Well, I think a lot! We saw The Hunger Games this past Saturday, and I couldn’t help but be completely wowed by the set and costume design in the movie.

I kept thinking that the scenes depicting Katniss’ District 12 felt eerily reminiscent of Depression-era photography, particularly Dorothea Lange’s famous photographs. When I think about photographs of people from this time period, the simple, humble lines, fabrics and patterns of the clothes always come to mind, along with the weary, uncertain, almost resigned expressions of the subjects. The opening scenes of the movie captured this perfectly.

If you haven’t read the books yet, I highly recommend! I held off for years (I just didn’t think I would be into it), but when Joe finished them in a week, I had to find out for myself. The story and characters are certainly memorable and I thought the movie did an amazing job of bringing them all to life.

What do you think? Do you see the similarities? Did the District 12 scenes remind you of the Depression era? What did you think of the movie altogether?

{Image Credits: Dorothea Lange photographs from the Library of Congress; Hunger Games photos from here and here, courtesy of Lionsgate}


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  1. 4.3.12

    I agree the design and costumes were fantastic and brilliant work linking them to the Lange’s photographs. I struggled with the concept of the movie but did appreciate the clever work of designating between the bleak, hungry world of the districts and the lollipop style, excess living of the Capitol.

  2. 4.3.12
    christin said:

    Soooo the creepy thing is that it’s supposed to. Which is why I won’t read the books.

  3. 4.3.12

    I still need to see this but you are so dead on, the styling is really perfect, totally pulls you into the setting of the book.

  4. 4.3.12

    I definitely agree with you. I had a similar feeling

    Additionally, I too held off reading the books until recently. A coworker lent me the first one and I was done practically overnight. I’m totally hooked and felt like the movie absolutely did the book justice (which almost never happens)

  5. 4.3.12

    I think visually the movie did the book justice, but I’m feeling a little “eh” about the rest of it. It’s a lot of detail to put into a movie, but I didn’t feel like the characters/relationships had time to evolve as they did in the book.

  6. 4.3.12
    alyson said:

    Wow, yes, so true. I felt like it had a Depression-era vibe but didn’t make the connection to those images. Amazing. The books were so good, right? And, I absolutely love how they brought them to life. Really impressed.

  7. 4.3.12
    Lisa said:

    Definitely see the similarities. I thought they did a fantastic job bringing the books to life — I don’t think my imagination did justice to District 12 or even the Capitol. Can you imagine how long it must have taken to get everyone ready for a scene at the Capitol?

  8. 4.3.12

    Interesting! I definitely see the similarities! I actually saw the movie at midnight – I’ve been obsessed with the series for so long and the movie didn’t disappoint!

  9. 4.3.12

    You know, I never thought about this, but now that you pointed it out, I completely agree! Great post. We saw the movie this weekend in LA – so, so, so, so good!!!

  10. 4.3.12
    Lottie said:

    I totally get what you mean–never thought about it before.

    But then again I haven’t seen the film yet–going on wed really looking forward to it.

  11. 4.3.12
    Michelle said:

    Yes!! Love this comparison.. never though about it but so true! I thought the movie was great… could have shortened it a but loved it!

  12. 4.3.12
    Laura P said:

    That was the comparison I was looking for, those opening scenes reminded me of something and I couldn’t place it until now.
    The books were great and the movie, too. I agree w/ one of the commenters that the relationships didn’t get the time needed to develop but I think that happens often in movies, they go for the action and skip the realtionships. Sad!

  13. 4.3.12

    I am a huge Hunger Games nerd, and did a long post about my thoughts on the movie. I am glad the studio invested in recreating the Capitol and arena per the book descriptions, since it would have been really obvious if they half-assed it. (yeah, that’s a verb in Texas)

    I liked the casting choices, too, but just wasn’t convinced with their choice for Peeta. I guess I just pictured him differently. Oh well, they’ll have my ticket money for the next 4 years :)

  14. 4.3.12

    I was so thrilled with the movie adaptation. The set was exactly how I imagined it!

  15. 4.3.12
    Amanda said:

    I hadn’t thought of this comparison before but now I totally see it.

    I loved the books! And thought the movie was well done!

  16. 4.3.12
    Keren V. said:

    What an amazing mix and mash-up. Dorothe Lange’s photography has such a sense of desperation, yearning, and hunger. The Hunger Games, although a great movie – is an even great book showcasing a dystopian world wherein the media is corrupt (mores than today) and people are treated as cogs within a machine. Lange chronicled farmers producing food they could not even eat themselves. Definitely something to be said of THAT sort of hunger game.

  17. 4.3.12
    Shannon said:

    I was talking to my husband about the costuming and similarities to the Great Depression, but I couldn’t quite describe what I meant. This comparison so accurately describes what I was trying to say.

    I loved some parts of the movie, especially Katniss, but it’s always difficult for a movie to top a book to me.

  18. 4.3.12
    amanda said:

    I know you didn’t ask, but I’m totally Team Peeta! haha

    I too held off on reading the books. They were recommended by a friend who loved Twilight and Harry Potter and I just never felt the itch to read those series, but then I grabbed a copy of Hunger Games at the bookstore for kicks and I got hooked! I’ve only read the first two!

    As for the film, I thought it was great and am looking forward to the others.

  19. 4.7.12
    Kate said:

    I totally agree! I loved Katniss’ dress that she wore to the reaping, and the braids definitely remind me of the Great Depression. Love this post!