May the Length of The Hunger Games Blu-ray ‘Making Of’ Be Ever in Your Favour
So I watched the uncut Blu-ray edition of The Hunger Games the other day… and guess what? The addition of a few seconds of blood-letting doesn’t make the film substantially different from what I watched the first time around. The first half remains a lively, Fellini-esque piece of world-building; the second half a passable, middling attempt at tweenage action; and the whole thing continues to be raised several notches because there are no chinks in the formidable Jennifer Lawrence’s armour.
What’s really interesting is the Blu-ray’s two-hour Making Of documentary, The World Is Watching: Making The Hunger Games. Yes, you read that right: two hours. The film is still playing in cinemas, probably, and already it has a feature-length retrospective. Usually you have to wait for a significant anniversary, or the director to be on their deathbed, before a studio splashes out so extensively on a disc’s extras.
I’m in two minds about this. It’s wonderful that fans get something so comprehensive when most of us are short-changed with a gag reel and a handful of deleted scenes that should have stayed buried on the cutting room floor. On the other hand: too soon? There’s no way that any new film (yet alone one that only scraped two votes in my poll to find the best films of 2012 so far) warrants a two-hour ‘Making Of.’ There’s been no chance for a genuine critical appraisal; the most interesting narratives about a film only happen after it’s been around for a while. The cast needs to put some distance behind them, not least to allow long-suppressed grudges to resurface so they can have a good old bitch about their co-stars. It feels weird that The Hunger Games has a two-hour documentary already and Chinatown, say, doesn’t.
It’s obvious that The Hunger Games has got special treatment because of its neo-Twilight status as a Young Adult touchstone, so (at a stretch) the film has the advantage of distance from the novel. Even so, The World Is Watching feels like a lap of honour for bringing the story to the screen; indeed, the way it is structured into themed chapters (casting, design, etc) that can be viewed in isolation suggests this is more a mega-featurette than a bona fide documentary.
So here’s an idea. The best thing to do is to buy The Hunger Games Blu-ray, put it away for a decade, and then stick on The World Is Watching to see if the bigging-up of Jennifer Lawrence is still warranted (it will be) or whether Josh Hutcherson’s tree make-up, aka “oh my Gawd, I’ve been wounded! Quick – pass the oak mascara!” looks any less ridiculous (it won’t). And hopefully by then somebody will have given Chinatown the feature-length documentary it deserves.