This past weekend, The Hunger Games was released on DVD. Naturally, my fanatic ass picked up my copy the morning of, proudly, and paid whatever I needed so I could watch an incredible amount of special features regarding this story, the actors, and the entire making-of. I hadn’t been that excited to overload my brain with DVD special features since the last Harry Potter movie (WAH! Idontwannatalkaboutit).
While my other half killed zombies with his BFF, I gladly shut myself off and watched Jennifer Lawrence, Gary Ross, and some Lionsgate producers tell me about the making of The Hunger Games. Heaven, you guys – I WAS IN HEAVEN.
One feature, in particular, stuck out amongst the rest. There was your standard casting, production, editing, costume design, and book phenomenon stuff, but I loved the bit called “Letters From The Rose Garden.” It was a brief story between director Gary Ross and actor Donald Sutherland (President Snow) regarding the incorporation of the white rose garden in the movie. After already being cast, Sutherland wrote Ross a massive email about his thoughts on President Snow and how his motives can be conveyed on screen. Since most of Snow’s viciousness is told through Katniss’s inner monologue in the books and there wasn’t going to be any narration, Sutherland and Ross wanted to find an appropriate way to show his absolute assholery on film.
Sutherland eloquently offered his two cents on the characterization and how it fit into today’s society. This led to his thoughts on Snow’s motives to maintain total control in Panem’s oppressive bureaucracy. He mentioned how he believed Snow was an intelligent and good man before power and greed consumed him. That he’s a silent type, defiant in his values and utterly terrifying because of it. He doesn’t need to speak for you to know he’s pissed off and plotting his revenge. From afar, his exterior seems like that of a grandfather, but up close his eyes betray him. As Sutherland said, Snow already knows what you’re thinking and, thus, he’s already beating you to the punch. Anyone who has read The Hunger Games series knows this to be true, and Sutherland nails his countenance.
This email left Gary Ross mulling things over, reflecting on how to really get the point across to readers and newbies alike when they watch the movie. It’s because of Sutherland’s marvelous word vomit of an email that we see the scenes from the Rose Garden, and we get that kick ass line everyone now knows.
“The only thing stronger than fear is hope.”
If this were coming from the mouth of Albus Dumbledore or Gandalf, I’m sure it’d be accompanied by a great symphony and a feeling of safety, positivity, and encouragement. Not so much with Prezzie Snow. He’s an asshole. So when this line is delivered, it’s to remind us that he has no sympathy for those kids duking out to the death and he wishes to squash any hope these tributes, their families, and their districts cling to.
This was a DVD feature that really didn’t need to be added to the mix of things, but I’m so glad they threw it in. Regardless of all those Team Peeta/Team Gale shirts, The Hunger Games is more than a teen romance. Way more. It’s this fantastic observation about war, poverty, pop culture, and the frightening nature of absolute
assholery power that deserves to be discussed in ways like Sutherland’s email. If you haven’t picked up the DVD with special features, SHAME ON YOU PEASANT. Or just google “Letters From The Rose Garden,” I’m sure it’s out in the internet world somewhere.
Also, Donald Sutherland is a beast. And I’m not just talking about his facial hair.