ByEszter Simor, writer at
Eszter Simor

The The Hunger Games: Catching Fire gave plenty of opportunities for designers to design ideas based on its dystopic world merging with the high-tech luxury of the Capitol and the poverty of the old-fashioned rural districts of miners and farmers. Here is what some professionals: Angela Riechers art director and writer, and Alexandra Lange architecture and design critic had to say about the environment, the clothes and the make-up of the extraordinary world of Katniss Everdeen.

Check out the pictures of the retro-dystopian design, alongside their comments here:

The costumes of the combatants' buoyancy suits had the same hexagonal patterning as the electromagnetic dome over the Arena, which hinted at some kind of sinister design connection. (Riechers)

Francis Lawrence: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Cornucopia

Last time around, we were struck by the extreme geometry of the Cornucopia, a classic idea pushed appropriately into a lethal, angular form—meant to house weapons, not pumpkins—with references to the work of Frank Gehry and Greg Lynn. But why not iterate? This year's cornucopia was like the last, but with more angles added, and it wasn't put to use. It isn't on its shear walls that tributes die, but on the rocks below. Those rocks looked like the fake boulders that we use to keep the apes in their habitats at zoos nowadays. That parallel could have had some resonance had they been used the same way. But no. It's the technology under the rocks, in the trees, in the sky that make the arena lethal. But the movie, boringly, chose to hide that technology. Why not let the sets do the talking? (Lange)

Francis Lawrence: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Cleopatra reference:

I would have loved more arguments between Katniss and her handlers about her wedding dress, contrasted with her shooting her computer-generated foes in the tribute training center (which still looks like a basement by Marcel Breuer). Maybe the Cleopatra references in her Capitol costuming were supposed to make the point that she’s a controversial female figurehead. (Lange)

Francis Lawrence: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The make-up:

I saw a lot of Vogue-in-the '60s/'70s eye makeup things in the Capitol—very Penelope Tree—and wished there was more of it. The color palette of the movie was much more muted and grim than the first time around, overall. Maybe the intent was to indicate that everyone was feeling oppressed, not just the people from the Districts. Even Effie's dresses were not as blinding in color, though they were for the most part still plenty sharp and pointy, or silly baby-doll, too-short numbers. (Riechers)

is pretty great as Johanna Mason, and I loved how insane her lashes were even as she was straightjacketed into the forest-theme costumes deemed appropriate for District Seven. (Lange)

Francis Lawrence: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Effie's dress:

Effie seems to be thawing out, gaining some human feelings and sense of right and wrong. Is it wrong to say that when she was strictly a cartoon villain, she was a more interesting character? Maybe her Monarch dress could have been made from live butterflies—now that would have been horrifyingly cruel. Her red dress, which we see a bit later, reminded me of a student project I saw once that used about a million Melitta coffee filters to make a coat. Slightly ridiculous, like all her outfits, but not so threatening. So are her clothes saying she’s coming around? Maybe she’ll join the revolution? (Riechers)

Francis Lawrence: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss' clothes:

The more interesting fashion was outside the Capitol, where one suspected the rebellion might be sponsored by Etsy. Katniss's crumpled blue linen, her one-shoulder chunky knit vest, her layers. We get it: She’s protecting herself, and they are letting her be a tomboy and wear pants, but it made her undramatized transformation into baby Liz Taylor even stranger. (Lange)

Francis Lawrence: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The architecture

The one architectural setting that made me laugh out loud was the oval glass elevator in which Johanna Mason strips. It’s a great scene, and I immediately recognized the work of the ultimate 1980s sci-fi architect, John Portman. The Internet tells me it was filmed in Portman’s Marriott Marquis in Atlanta. It would have made sense for President Snow to start pushing his power imagery further, into the baroque curves of Portman. I wanted more sinister effects like the eyes-everywhere moment in that glass elevator, or the flowers projected on the front of the Capitol building for that decadent party. (Lange)

Francis Lawrence: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The train

The other explicit design shout-out was made on the train, which, as we noted, references the great streamline designers like Henry Dreyfuss. Katniss finds a place to be alone at the back, in an incredible skylit, half-round car. It’s one of the most futurist moments in the movie, and yet it too is from the past: Brooks Stevens’s SkyTop lounge car from the Olympian Hiawatha line, made in 1948. Those trains were advertised to families who wanted to see the USA in style, so it’s an interesting ironic reference: What Katniss sees from her lounge is a militarized, repressive landscape, the cotton fields of District 11 policed by giant Humvees. (Lange)

Francis Lawrence: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Francis Lawrence: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

(source: The Atlantic)

What do you think? Do you agree with their critical opinion?


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