There’s few movie franchises as feverishly examined as ‘The Hunger Games’. So with the final instalment due out later this year, we thought we’d reveal some of the saga’s cleverest hidden nods.
Let us know how many you spotted in the comments below.
The cast’s favourite hip hop club is hidden in Panem
In ‘Catching Fire’, Katniss and Peeta are on their chariot heading through a tunnel, which is emblazoned with a sign saying PDL-736. Is this a wink to how the Capitol is broken up into different neighbourhoods? Is it the 736th tunnel built in the city?
No, in fact, it’s an homage to Ponce De Leon-736, a hip hop club frequented by the cast during filming in Atlanta, Georgia.
There’s an awesome teaser hidden at the end of Mockingjay - Part 1
If you left the cinema before the end of the movie, you would have missed this nod to the defiant, revolutionary end of the series.
Whereas the mockingjay has previously had its beak facing downwards, symbolising Panem’s oppression under the Capitol, a post-credits stinger had the bird unfurling its wings and looking skyward, demonstrating Katniss’s newfound freedom and the rise of District 13.
Effie is based on an Australian comedian
The alter-ego of Oz actress Mary Coustas, Effie Stephanidis is a famous comedy character Down Under – a gobby, gaudy woman of Greek origin, with a flair for outlandish hair and outfits.
In the movies, Effie (Elizabeth Banks) is known for her OTT barnet and Capitol-inspired garments. Can you see the resemblance?
Steven Soderbergh directed some of the first movie
The Oscar-winning director is good friends with Gary Ross, who wrote and directed the original film. When Soderbergh was spotted on set, Twitter erupted with rumours that he was replacing Ross, or that he was already shooting the second instalment.
The truth was a bit more straightforward. The pair often help each other out on their movie projects and Ross (who’s not known for his action chops) asked his mate to shoot two days of second unit rather than hire someone he didn’t know.
The Victor’s Village statue is based on a real life feminist monument
The ‘Catching Fire’ production team clearly love their New York architecture. The angel statue that Katniss comes across in the Victor’s Village is modelled on the sculpture atop the Bethesda Fountain in NYC’s most famous green space.
Designed by Emma Stebbins, it was unveiled in 1873 and reflects the franchise’s feminist underpinnings, as the original was the first piece of major artwork by a woman to be commissioned in the Big Apple.
Katniss is based on the heroine from Far From The Madding Crowd
It’s well-known that the series’ author Suzanne Collins took inspiration for the names of her characters from various areas of myth, classic literature and nature. Katniss is no different.
Her first name is a plant also known as arrowhead (hence her archery skills). Her surname however, is based on Bathsheba Everdene, the plucky heroine of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’.
Set in the writer’s fictional Wessex, the pair, says Collins, “are very different, but both struggle with knowing their hearts.” Everdene has most recently been portrayed on-screen by Brit Carey Mulligan.
‘Catching Fire’ gives a nod to Pixar’s most famous Easter egg
As anyone who’s ever watched a Pixar film knows, the reference A113 shows up all the time, a nod to the classroom at the California Institute of the Arts where a number of now-successful animation and design students were once taught.
When Snow is watching Katniss on a monitor, you can see A113 hidden subtly in the corner.
The production design was inspired by a famous US photographer
Dorothea Lange was an American snapper best known for her celebrated shots of Depression-era USA, particularly focused on the economically deprived.
It’s hard not to see the similarity between the grit and grime of District 12 and Lange’s elegiac photos, both of which emanate poverty yet mask a hidden resolve.
President Snow’s first name is a Shakespeare reference
‘Coriolanus’ is one of the Bard’s most bloody plays and also one of his most politically astute. A brilliant general, Shakespeare’s protagonist has come to emblemise totalitarianism and the birth of what would end up becoming known as fascism.
Let’s face it, President Snow – who’s first name we subtly discover is Coriolanus – isn’t exactly a flagwaver for democracy.
The Hanging Tree single you can buy is the “censored” one
Jennifer Lawrence showed off another of her many skills when she busted out a version of this rather morbid ditty during ‘Mockingjay – Part 1’. Written by two members of folk band The Lumineers and author Suzanne Collins, it becomes the song of the rebellion.
But if you listen closely, there’s a clever tip of the hat to how manipulative all sides of the fight are (a key theme in the original novels). Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) changes one of the lines from “necklace of rope” to “necklace of hope”, in order to make it more powerful for the District 13 residents. And this was the version that was actually released on iTunes.
As such, the corporation selling ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise shares DNA with the complex and sometimes not entirely benevolent puppet masters trying to overthrow the Capitol. There’s an academic research paper about PR and politics in there somewhere…
Photos: Collection/Rex Shutterstock/Lionsgate/Getty/Snap Stills/Everett