The Hunger Games Catching Fire is a Thriller. The genre is most commonly known for creating suspense and excitement in the audience, the hero often being an outsider, but usually very knowledgeable/moral. We see this in the poster through the connotations and signifiers it presents to us, the poster shows a single protagonist, denoting that she is alone and seemingly very comfortable with this. The hero in the typical thriller is usually being the one who reveals the truth or solves the issue in the plot, we are also shown this in the poster with her hostile stance and her grasp on the arrow, we see that she is the hero and will be the one who will ‘save the day’. Often times in a Thriller the hero and the villain have something in common and can be seen as similar, we don’t see a villain in the poster in person but we do see how the protagonist can have traits similar to one through the fire imagery, as well as the statement at the top “Remember who the enemy is”, suggesting that perhaps there is some controversy regarding who the true villain is. Thrillers normally depict a battle between the protagonist and the antagonist, normally the battle is for justice. The poster here doesn’t give much away in terms of justice, but defiantly connotes to a battle, the stance Jenifer Lawrence (portraying Katniss, the ‘hero’ of The Hunger Games) is defiant and aggressive, she is in a fighting stance with her arrow aimed directly at the viewer, as if even the audience is a part of this battle.
The most obvious signifier in the poster is the use of blacks, golds and reds and the image of fire. Fire being mostly symbolic of danger it is also a symbol of passion, destruction and power. All of these are key themes in The Hunger Games, as a thriller film these are common key themes in thriller films and young adult literature. The institution who is producing this needs to know how to attract young adult literature fans to a thriller film and perhaps the use of color is a way to portray that this is both a thriller film, but it also represents the anger, passion and romance dynamic from the novel that the film was adapted from. The way the fire is behind the actress and bringing light from behind her is one way to depict a saviour as the light from behind is symbolic of the hero being the bringer of light, which has some religious context but it has made its way into contemporary media. The fact that this isn’t just light its fire has more of a dangerous, maybe rebellious twist to it and maybe even suggests the heroes rage and her desire to destroy. The fire is mostly framing the image and emphasizing the black, red and gold in the background and text. Gold being a colour of wealth, fame and beauty. Gold as well as wealth is also linked with being a feminine colour, especially next to the red that can be considered a very ‘sexy’ and passionate colour when associated with women. This amplifies the protagonists femininity in the poster, maybe hinting that this is some sort of plot point in the movie.
We see in this still taken from the movie that the imagery does not change in the film itself, Lawrence is still portrayed in black costume and continues to wield an arrow. We also see how in the film she is different to how she is portrayed in the poster, with her face giving the appearance of being free from makeup, her hair tied back rather than free flowing and her facial expression shows that she is scared in this image, whereas in the poster she looks calm and collected. This is because the poster is designed to show her in the best possible light in order for the audience to look up to her and view her as a hero, but in the film we are led as an audience to want to sympathize and identify with her. This is why a poster may portray her as being strong, confident, sexy and defiant, with bold colors and powerful imagery, as an audience who hasn’t seen the film but has read the books will want to see her in this light in the movies. The institution that created this film (Lionsgate) wants to make sure that the image of Katniss on the poster is striking and bold in order for it to be interesting to the audience and for it to become a talking point, however in the film they want her to appear true to the novels that she was adapted from in order for the audience to be pleased. This is why the connotations of Katniss in the films is different from that of the poster.
The clothes the actress is wearing are skin tight and all black. Black often connotes to depression and death but in this photo, next to the passionate reds and golds signifying wealth and danger, and that the clothes are skin tight on the model (relating maybe to fashionable clothing and femininity, again.) the colour black takes on a new image. It is elegant and symbolic of maturity, rage and control, signifying a cool and collected hero despite the rage and passion she feels for her cause. It is also very powerful as a feminist image and gives the ultimate image of ‘girl power’. The close up shot of the protagonist alone gives the viewer the idea of there only being a single protagonist (which is true to the movie) and their feeling of isolation. This links to the black imagery of the model, being alone may be considered to be a signifier that she is weak, however the way that Jenifer Lawrence is portrayed in this poster makes her appear completely in control and is above all, independent. In the Hunger Games the protagonist feels alone in her cause as nobody else seems to understand who the enemy is (or is dead) and her being the only figure in the poster seems to be a direct reference to that. The protagonists stance in the image (bow raised, looking directly at where its aimed) denotes power and confidence in her cause. The bow alone is an ancient symbol of war, dating back to Roman times, which the film has many references to. Her long, flowing hair relating to femininity and beauty but it blowing out of her face showing her focus on the item she is aiming at, communicating to the audience how she is a fighter, a leader and is determined to fight for her cause. How the actresses face has been made up to look gives her the effect of sharp high cheekbones and a high nose, all the contours of her face have been made sharper and more angled, intensifying how powerful, defiant and feminine she appears in the poster.
Here is a screencap from the movie, we see how even in Katniss’ more ‘glamorous’ moments she is still associated with the color red for anger, passion and femininity. She scowls at the audience in this picture (there is an audience in front of her in the movie, as well as a camera crew broadcasting this onto television) as if she is already angry. Even in her most feminine moments we see that she still retains her passion and her dominance, she wears red as a signifier of anger, her face is showing that although she is dressed for the audiences benefit of seeing her as beautiful or feminine, she hasn’t lost her own defiance. This picture from the movie almost perfectly creates the same sense of heroism and passion that the poster did, we see here how the poster is expressing to the audience the same tone of the films, there is a lot of bleakness throughout the film, and in the poster through the use of dark colours, but the red, the gold, and the image of Katniss glaring at the audience with contempt all suggest the build up of a battle.
A Similar poster is this one for Batman The Dark Knight. Both have common uses of having the protagonist a solitary figure in the center. Both have used fire in their image but in the second it is more likely to be linked with destruction and power than passion and femininity as the fire is burning up a building. The solitary character in this poster is more of an ambiguous figure as he is dressed in all black which is more commonly associated with the villain. However having the camera angled upwards means we are literally “looking up at him” which indicates a hero. This is different to the first poster because having him in the centre looking directly at the camera would take away from the ambiguity of the movie. Also in The Hunger Games poster we are at eye level with the actress, signifying we are equal to her, rather than below her. In the first poster the fire is very bright and glowing, defining and lighting her face to give the viewer a good clear view of her expression and facial features. In this one you can’t see his face at all, the fire is used to completely cast with shadows and the parts of his face you can see are obscured by a mask. The different uses of fire in both photos really tells the difference between the two movies as The Hunger Games one paints the actress as an obvious hero, filled with rage and power of destruction. However, in The Dark Night poster he looks very dark, almost melancholy, and completely detached from the fire. His stance, like the first one denotes rage and power, but his a more concealed kind.