On the surface, there would seem precious little in Gary Ross’ body of work to recommend him as the director of The Hunger Games. Certainly, neither of his two films to date, 1998’s Pleasantville and 2003’s Seabiscuit, call to mind the violent, dystopian sci-fi of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling series of novels.
But for all their cosmetic differences, there is tremendous thematic overlap between the three projects. Like The Hunger Games, Pleasantville centers on characters suffering under oppressive conditions and taking bold steps to affect change. And in Seabiscuit, one finds distinct echoes of Katniss Everdeen’s underdog story of triumph against impossible odds. Moreover, they are all profoundly affecting paeans to humanism – a trait of The Hunger Games that is not lost on its legions of devoted fans.
Upon further reflection, one might reasonably conclude that there was, in fact, no one better suited to direct The Hunger Games than Gary Ross. The enthusiastic acclaim the film is receiving thus far would appear to confirm as much.
In an exclusive interview with Hollywood.com, Ross spoke about the uniqueness of the project (“I don’t think anyone’s prepared to do a movie like this,” he said), his decision to adopt a gritty, intimate, hand-held aesthetic (“If it gets slick and glossy, then I’m guilty of what the Capitol is guilty of”), why he chose Jennifer Lawrence as his Katniss (she “floored” him with her audition), and what he sees as the film’s central message:
The Hunger Games opens everywhere this Friday, March 16, 2012.
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