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'The Hunger Games' - Cinematography Review

Updated on May 10, 2012

Why So Shaky?

So, I've got a lot of friends that have gone and seen The Hunger Games over the course of the past couple of weeks, and all of them have come back and asked me about the same problem... "What is up with the cinematography? It's way to shaky! I can't see anything!" Yes, the camera work is shaky, and I can barely see what's happening half the time as well. But there is a specific purpose to this madness, despite what many people may think.

If you've read the book, then you'll understand better than those that didn't, that the Games are televised for the citizens of Panem to watch. Simply put - we are supposed to be those citizens watching. Think about it - if we were in the world of the story, how do the cameras get the footage? They'd obviously have cameramen filming it, in addition to cameras in trees and foliage and such. The cameramen will have to chase the tributes, which would naturally make the camera movements shaky. The idea they were going behind was to make us feel like we were watching humans, chasing the tributes to get the footage they needed. They tried to make it as realistic for us as possible, and they did an incredible job at it.

In addition, a shaky camera often makes us, as viewers, feel uneasy, as if something is about to happen. However, a cinematographer could easily take that feeling and expand it into something larger... something that encompasses an entire movie, for example. This sort of artistic decision would be left up to the position known as Director of Photography, which is the same thing as cinematographer. It could easily be said that, in this case, Tom Stern could have made the decision to make this simple camera technique into something much, much more. By having a shaky cam throughout most of the movie, not only does it feel more realistic, but it also tells us, something is wrong. And something IS wrong, isn't there?! It's kids killing kids! Add that onto the plot line of the trilogy of the books as a whole and the problems between the districts and the capitol and you've reached an even stronger argument. Did you see any shaky shots when we were inside the Capitol (excluding the training sessions, of course as they're action-oriented).

Overall, the stylistic approach to the filming of this movie is, although annoying at times I do agree, quite frankly brilliant. I've never seen another movie quite like it, and I know for a fact that there are many more people crying over the camerawork in this movie than in past ones. Next time you see it - take a look and observe some of the shots they use, and ask yourself why? I think you'd be surprised at some of the answers you'd come up with!

Below is The Hunger Games trailer, in case you haven't seen it yet

-LJD 2012

'The Hunger Games'


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      Rubbish 4 years ago

      Horseshit. The Bourne films shook incessantly. And I didn't see any camera work that crossed the line of action in those three movies. Hunger games shakes, yes, but it does intersperse steady shots *in the same scene*. Hardly brilliant.