5. The Quarter Quell Reaping
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Instead of pens filled with children waiting to see if they will be selected as Tributes, only the three surviving Victors of District 12 stand on the stage – Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Peeta and Katniss. Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) tries to keep her upbeat attitude and acts as if this is a happy and joyful experience, but even she can’t do it. She fumbles in the giant fishbowl for only one slip of paper – written on it: ‘Katniss Everdeen’. Her voice breaks as she announces this. A single tear rolls down Katniss’ cheek as she looks at Effie, struggling to remain composed.
Haymitch is reaped, allowing Peeta to volunteer in his place. Effie just about manages to announce the two Tributes, as Mrs Everdeen (Paula Malcomson), Prim and Gale raise their hands in salute, carrying through the whole crowd.
The Reaping is a traumatic experience every year but is contrasted by the joy of the Capitol. This time around, we feel only grief and rage. Effie, until this point, has been a full supporter of the Capitol and a true representative of the attitudes of its citizens. Now she struggles to fulfil her role, recognizing the injustice and brutality of the Capitol against her friends. It’s clear that those watching feel the same as her.
This moment signifies more joining the Rebellion in whatever way they can: Effie in her disdain, and Katniss’ mother in beginning the salute which cascades across the crowd.
This is one of the most emotional moments in the series, as we do not expect Katniss and Peeta to both survive. It shows their fall from grace in a way, from darlings of the Nation to Tributes to death. In a series filled with injustice, somehow this feels like one of the most unjust moments.
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4. Katniss Entering the Quarter Quell
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Katniss and Cinna (Lennie Kravitz) prepare for Katniss to enter the Quarter Quell. Katniss doesn’t intend to return but Cinna asserts his faith in her. The two-hold eye contact as the tube encompasses Katniss, but nothing happens. Peacekeepers enter and begin to beat Cinna brutally, as Katniss cries and pounds on the glass. The lift begins to rise as Cinna is drawn away unconscious.
Katniss breathes heavily but begins to stand tall as she approaches bright sunlight. Suddenly she’s in the arena, standing on a plinth surrounded by water. She searches frantically for Peeta but can’t see him. The countdown begins and she remembers where she is, and that Cinna and Peeta need her to survive the oncoming bloodbath. She pushes her hair behind her ears, steels her gaze on the bow delicately placed near the Cornucopia and dives in the second the counter hits zero.
Unlike her first time around, there’s no hesitation. She’s keeping an eye on her opponents as she charges forward, making it to the Cornucopia first and taking aim at the careers. She points her arrow at Finnick, confused by his possession of Haymitch’s wristband, before realising she has no choice but to become his ally.
This scene once again showcases the Capitol’s intent on crushing Katniss, beating one of her only allies in the hopes of destabilising her to ensure an early death in the arena. But Katniss survives, and Lawrence’s acting is once again very strong. She shines without dialogue, and we feel all of Katniss’ emotion in this jampacked scene. Her grief and panic solidify into determination, and her drive to survive is reignited – the Capitol will not crush her this easily, and Cinna will not die for nothing.
This is one of the best moments in the series. As Katniss enters the arena, the aspect ratio changes, encompassing the screen fully once she’s inside. The shift in lighting, aspect ratio and change from cold Capitol to a tropical jungle environment add a layer of disorientation for the viewer, feeling just as Katniss must. There is no time to process Cinna’s tragic fate; we must look forward and treat it as if it happened in another life.
3. Katniss Volunteers as Tribute
The Hunger Games (2012)
Prim is ready for her first Reaping, with Katniss worrying about Gale (whose name is in the draw a large number of times). Prim belongs to but one small slip of paper, the odds stacked against her Reaping so massively that Katniss doesn’t even begin to think about it as a possibility. Effie reads out ‘Primrose Everdeen’. Katniss cries out her sister’s name and is grabbed by Peacekeepers. She screams that she volunteers until she wrestles free and announces her intention more firmly.
Katniss is escorted to the stage; Effie announces her as the first volunteer for the District. Suddenly she faces the crowd, still shellshocked from what’s just happened. She responds blankly to Effie’s questions before applause is encouraged. The crowd silently salute her for her sacrifice, as the gravity of her decision begins to weigh on her.
This is one of the first truly shocking moments of the series. Prim’s reaping is a gut punch, and the rest unfolds before you’re able to process it and think through the next steps. It places you right in the position of Katniss, a sister acting on instinct and hoping for the best.
This moment makes it so high on the list for many reasons, one being that Prim’s name is repeated so many times early in the film that her reaping fills you with a sense of dread you weren’t expecting. In a few short minutes we have become protective of her, and we feel her Reaping so deeply. We also see Katniss in her most raw form for the first time, the protector of her family who will stop at nothing to keep Prim safe. We’re properly introduced to Katniss and, no matter what, begin to rally around her. We see the person she is and wish for her to succeed, as do the people of Panem, setting her up to become the beloved figurehead of the Rebellion even at this early juncture.