The Internet is gabbing about the new Mockingjay trailer that has been released, and I thought I might need to as well. It’s a very simple but very effective piece of cinematography, clearly targeted to fans of the franchise. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) sits on a white throne, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) standing beside him, the two in impeccable white clothing. This is Snow’s message to the people, and it is a grim one:
Since the dark days, our great nation has known only peace. Ours is an elegant system, conceived to nourish and protect. Your districts are the body; the Capitol is the beating heart. Your hard work feeds us, and in return, we feed and protect you. But if you resist the system, you starve yourself. If you fight against it, it is you who will bleed. I know you will stand with me, with all of us, together, as one. Panem Today, Panem Tomorrow, Panem Forever.
At the end of Catching Fire, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) was lifted out of the arena with Finnick (Sam Clafin) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) by game-maker Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), a leader of the supposedly-wiped-out District 13. Meanwhile Peeta, Johanna (Jena Malone), and Enobaria (Meta Golding) were taken captive by the Capitol, and District 12 was bombed in a show of strength against the rebellion.
Snow’s words are war. They’re intimidating, meant to frighten would-be rebels. Snow knows that he cannot stop the rebellion from happening, and he isn’t trying. But keeping it small enough to kill, like the rebellion of District 13, is what he’s angling for. He offers peace, praising the system of districts and Capitol, suggesting a symbiotic relationship. He offers protection. But the menace is there–in his other outstretched hand is the sword. The speech turns, and the voice is colder. And we see Peeta, standing beside Snow, his head high. If we look closer, though…We see a tie so pointed that it keeps him from lowering his head unless he’s willing to be hurt by it, and we see eyes that betray Snow, even if he is standing beside him.
It’s interesting both to have the trailer reveal that Peeta is being used by Snow in this capacity and cast us as the audience for Panem’s advertisements, us as the citizens. It mirrors some of the commentary that the books make, and this has worked well for companies, for consumers, and for the film and book merchandiser. There have been magazine spreads, a make-up line, and countless other movie tie-in products and advertisements. They all cast us as citizens either of Capitol, citizens who can afford and are concerned about appearances and luxuries, or citizens of the Districits, who are exploited (some more than others) by the elite with little chance of joining them.
So, is it November yet?